Picks and Pans Review: Je Suis Le Cahier

updated 12/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/01/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Pablo Picasso

"I picked up my sketchbooks daily," Picasso wrote, "saying to myself: 'What will I learn of myself that I didn't know?' And when it isn't me anymore who is talking but the drawings I made, and when they escape and mock me, then I know I've achieved my goal." Six years ago, when the Museum of Modern Art had its major exhibit of Picasso's work, the lasting impression was astonishment that one man seemed to have succeeded in doing absolutely everything in art. This volume beautifully reproduces Picasso's sketchbooks, showing the initial impulses that led to his creation of many of the most important works of art in our time. Harlequins, acrobats, jesters are sketched in crayon and ink and pencil, faint lines that capture the essence of gesture and motion. There are pages devoted to nude women, distorted into cubist shapes that eventually became the landmark painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Portraits turn into profiles crying out in anguish—one of the motifs in Guernica. Mother and child—thick-limbed, monumental figures—suggest a surprising tenderness and love. Satyrs, self-portraits, fantastic creatures, figures from a bullfight—a lifetime of inspiration at its freshest is contained in this splendid book, which also includes brief commentaries by various art experts. (Atlantic Monthly Press, $65)

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