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A General Sketch of the Artist is Offered in 'Picasso, the Legacy'
December 8, 2016  | By David Hinckley

If you’ve heard the name Picasso all your life and always felt like you should know a little more about him, Ovation TV has the ticket.

Picasso, The Legacy premieres Thursday at 7 p.m. ET and in the space of one short hour it traces his amazingly prolific career while also providing considerable insight into the man behind it.

Co-written by director Hugues Nancy and Picasso’s grandson Olivier Widmaier Picasso (below left), The Legacy summarizes quite clearly the artist’s remarkable body of work and the equally remarkable drive behind it.

For Picasso beginners, it explains the chronology of that work, and why it unfolded as it did. He didn’t go through his famous “blue period,” for instance, just because someone gave him a few tubes of blue paint.

Legacy illustrates his artistic and sometimes political motivations. Not incidentally, it also chronicles the impact of the women with whom he was involved at various times.

This delineation has the added appeal, for Picasso novices, of explaining how a painting that might seem very abstract was actually a representation of something, or someone, concrete and specific.

As this suggests, The Legacy isn’t probing deep into Picasso’s work, looking for small nuances that scholars and aficionados might debate. This is more an overview, in which there is considerable historical and cultural value.

Accordingly, it integrates Picasso’s work into the inception and development of what’s broadly termed modern art.

What may remain most striking about Picasso, even for students and admirers, is how startlingly prolific he was.

The Legacy bemusedly notes that after his death, it was estimated that inventorying his work might take a few weeks.

By the time everything had been located and cataloged, from his several residences, it had taken more than seven years.

Clearly, this was a man who couldn’t keep his hands off anything that lend itself to a creative moment, whether it was metal for sculpture, clay for ceramics or any kind of blank surface suitable for sketching or painting.

This does not suggest that he just dashed things off quickly at random and moved on. This is hardly doodling on cocktail napkins, and to illustrate, The Legacy traces several of his best-known works through an extended creative process of sketches and alterations.

And speaking of keeping hands off, Picasso also had that issue with women. He married several and had affairs with many more, at times simultaneously. He had a number of children and, like his wives and mistresses, they got as much attention as he had available once he’d tended to his art.

Many creative and successful people would never make parent or spouse of the year, for precisely that reason. From the evidence here, add Picasso to the list.

Some members of his family were more affected than others. The documentary notes that his daughter Paloma, the designer, rarely has spoken publicly about him. After his death his last wife committed suicide.

Still, his work has already proven its durability, and Ovation deserves a hand for being a television arts network that so far has kept to its mission.

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