A Picasso Play is sort of coming to New York. “Thankfully for the world of painting, Picasso wasn’t much of a writer. But one of his few plays, a surrealist romp called “Desire Caught by the Tail,” written over a four-day period in occupied Paris in 1941, will soon get a rare showing on one of the art world’s most prominent stages. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will host a two-night dramatic reading, Oct. 14 and 15, to accompany its “Picasso Black and White” exhibition, which opens Friday.
The play was first presented at a reading in 1944 with an all-star Left Bank existentialist cast: Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Raymond Queneau, among others of Picasso’s circle, with Albert Camus directing. The new cast won’t be quite as historically resonant but it will bring together an unlikely crew of bold-faced names under the direction of Anne Bogart: the playwright John Guare; the artists Guillermo Kuitca and Joan Jonas; Diana Picasso, a granddaughter of the artist; and Richard Armstrong, the Guggenheim’s director, playing the character of Silence. (Other characters include Big Foot and his friends Round Piece and Onion, along with the Tart and the two Anxieties, one skinny and one fat.)
“Inspired by the poor living conditions in Paris at the time,” the Guggenheim said in a statement, the play, which will be read in the Peter B. Lewis Theater as part of the museum’s Works and Process series, “reflects the hardships of those war years, with their lack of food and heating and their clandestine meetings.””
Story by Randy Kennedy for The New York Times.
Washington Post: Desire’: How Picasso Liberated Paris
Photo: Photograph by Brassaï showing artists gathered in 1944 in Paris after the first private production of Picasso’s “Desire Caught by the Tail” (photo courtesy the Guggenheim Museum)