The October "Twins": Celebrating Picasso's Birthday and Jacqueline Gojard's Book on the Picasso-Salmon Relationship, 1905-1969
“They were born within three weeks of each other in October 1881, André Salmon on the 4th and Pablo Picasso on the 25th. The painter attached a great deal of importance to this quasi-twinning, evidenced by the last portrait of the poet in honor of his birthday [in 1968],” wrote Jacqueline Gojard, Professor of Literature, University of Paris III (Sorbonne nouvelle) in her latest book Pablo Picasso and André Salmon: The Painter, the Poet and the Portraits.
Salmon and Picasso might have seemed to be an unlikely pair, Salmon himself observed in his memoirs Souvenirs sans fin: 1903-1940 (reprinted in 2004). The poet/critic, who met Picasso during the winter of 1904-5, described himself as a rather dreamy, ruminating Libra “worried about the future, while thinking about the past." He then contrasted himself to his October brother, Picasso, the withdrawn Scorpio, who exhibited a “love of solitude (even in a crowd), taciturnity and deep thought.” Their temperaments may have differed in some respects, but their mutual admiration for each others' gifts was a trait they held in common.
As Professor Gojard’s explains: “their mutual, intuitive understanding [was] based on a shared conception, if not practice, of their art.” From this point on, there is no doubt these fellows found an abiding kindred spirit that lasted over 64 years. In her landmark book, the first of its kind on these Montmartre buddies (and the first translation into English of her numerous publications), Dr. Gojard astutely decodes the various details in their delightfully caricature-ish portraits of each other. Equally significant and educational, she dissects Salmon’s poems in which Picasso plays a part. A brief chronology of their intertwined lives accompanies Dr. Gojard’s text, which is illustrated with well-known Picasso drawings of Salmon and little-known drawings of Picasso by the poet/art critic Salmon, sketched around 1907-1908. (The latter belong to a private collection that rarely exhibits his works.)
Pablo Picasso and André Salmon: The Painter, the Poet and the Portraits (Za Mir Press, 2019) is available online through The Strand, Amazon and other bookstores in your area or online. Please support The Strand in New York, currently at risk of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic economic crisis.
 Reference: Hélène Klein Seckel, “Three Portrait-Manifestos of Poets: André Salmon, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Max Jacob,” in the exhibition catalogue Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1996), pp. 185-186. Pablo Picasso and André Salmon: The Painter, the Poet and the Portraits, translated by Beth S. Gersh-Nešić (Za Mir Press, 2019).