23 May 2011

More hijinks

One evening around July [1912], after numerous cocktails with Claude Debussy at the Bar de la Paix, Picabia proposed to Apollinaire that they drive to Boulogne and take the boat to England, where Gabrielle was vacationing. The poet immediately agreed, noting that they should have no trouble since he spoke English. The next morning they arrived, famished owing to the inability of English waiters to understand Apollinaire's particular dialect, which he described as 'ancient Irish'. [Picabia wrote later: 'That trip is still one of my best memories. I never had such a gay, witty, and enterprising companion as Apollinaire.']

After an amusing adventure or two in English nightclubs, Apollinaire and the Picabias returned to France, pausing for dinner in Boulogne where Gabrielle recalls a serious discussion about 'pure painting'. In her memory, Apollinaire recoiled from the prospect of totally abstract art, calling it 'an inhuman art, unintelligible to the sentiment which risks remaining purely decorative'. 'Are blue and red unintelligible?' responded Picabia; 'Are not the circle and the triangle, volumes and colours, as intelligible as this table?'

Gabrielle also wrote:
I think I should point out that it was as a result of this trip, and despite these apparent misunderstandings, that Apollinaire modified some of his points of view and added to his "meditations esthetiques", which had not yet been published in book form, several corrections regarding the history and evolution of the new painting ... In Picabia he had discovered an aspect of that evolution which he found rather disquieting, but the strength and impetus of which he could not deny.

Here's another quote from Gabrielle, about visiting Barcelona on her honeymoon:
We had brought some of those pastilles that make you lose all sensation of scale and distance. Francis wanted to play a joke on [his young cousin] Manolo, but with such unfortunate results that the poor boy mistook a window for a door and nearly broke his leg.

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visitors since 29 March 2004.