Picasso and Rivera Talk

March 30, 2017

Home » Commentary » Picasso and Rivera Talk

Really, this is quite unusual, self-portraits talking to each other from a wall on either side of a gallery door. The man on the left, a short muscular brute standing bare-chested, says, “Get out of that frame.”

“Okay, as long as you do, too.”

Pablo Picasso, cocky at age twenty-five in 1906, steps naked, it turns out, onto the gallery floor. Five years younger and looking quite fresh, Diego Rivera, clad warm in a coat, emerges and says, “I restrain myself when I say I admire your work very much.”

“Like so many others.”

“May I ask why you’re not wearing clothes this day?”

“I just abandoned the bed of a beautiful woman and need no garments before conquering new subjects.”

“Since coming to Europe from Mexico two years ago, I’ve already learned much about painting, as well as women, and hope someday to rival you on canvas as well as in the boudoir.”

Picasso smirks and says, “Over here, this one, Portrait of Sebastian Juñer Vidal – I painted my friend blue in a bar two years ago.”

“He’s handsome and distinguished but what’s he doing with such a worn and disreputable woman?”

“A chubby fellow like you may find out when he gets older.”

“On occasion, perhaps, but most of mine will be delights. I ask you to join me over there in front of Bather in Tehuantepec. Let’s see, I’ll paint this mysterious and sensual native lady in 1923, and I can see what happens. I’ll later finish the painting in my studio, and here this day drop my pencil and pad and, as she’s bent over, I’ll kneel to suckle her big young brown breasts and smother her lips and lay her on sacred ground surrounded by the lush green foliage of Tehuantepec.”

“Señorita,” says Picasso.

“This way, Señor,” Rivera says, “I see your Three Young Women at the Spring from 1921.”

“These hefty peasants huddle near the shores of the Mediterranean, baring huge hands, arms, and legs that remind me of yours, but they redeem themselves by wearing low-cut gowns that suggest sensual breasts worthy of embrace.”

“Here, In Flower Day,” says Rivera, “I’ll in 1925 paint one of their stocky North American counterparts, a humble indigenous women bearing huge flowers, yellow phalluses erect amid virginal white, on her sturdy back as she bows to two ladies, one carrying a baby on her back.”

“I seem to have influenced you a great deal.”

“That’s true, but I must still learn to steal so skillfully as you, my dear Pablo. Here in The Source of 1921 you appear to have robbed yourself. We have another large but sexy woman and an unambiguously revealed left breast. I like the massive urn in her lap, ejaculating on the ground, but it’s unfortunate you’ll merely draw her in black crayon.”

“I wager this one’s but a study for the oil and flesh to come.”

“And here, look what I’ll do in 1931 – Flowered Canoe. The indigenous young boatman, solemn about his past and future, poles the water as he serves a load of passengers, native and stern, who mourn history and dread the horizon.”

“Over there,” says Picasso, “please study The Pipes of Pan and the morose purple sea making joyless my two young men clad only in loincloths. One plays the pipes while the other half listens. They’re drifting in 1923.”

“They’re a sad pair but perhaps not so bleak as Mandrake and the maniacally happy young bride covered in white lace enlivened by sharp red fingernails she’ll soon for the first time dig into the flesh of her unseen groom who doubtless wonders, ‘Dearest, why are you holding that skull in your lap?”

“That painting’s from 1939 when you’ll be fifty-three. I see a darkening in your work.”

“Yours likewise is bringing us less joy,” says Rivera.

“Dark emotions heighten aesthetic joy, my corpulent young friend.”

“Begging the pardon of your short little ass, I’ll rephrase my assessment. We’re going to see much sickness and war and our work will reflect it.”

“And many difficult women, no doubt,” says Picasso.

“They’ll trouble us less than the apocalypse.

Notes: I overheard this exchange while visiting Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time, an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Diego Rivera

Self-Portrait, 1906

Bathers in Tehuantepec, 1923

Flowered Canoe, 1931

Pablo Picasso

Self-Portrait, 1906

Three Women at the Spring, 1921

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for GeorgeThomasClark.com are read in more than 50 countries a month.

Recent Commentary


HITLER HERE is a well researched and lyrically written biographical novel offering first-person stories by the Fuehrer and a variety of other characters. This intimate approach invites the reader to peer into Hitler’s mind, talk to Eva Braun, joust with Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler, debate with the generals, fight on land and at sea and…
See More
Art history and fiction merge to reveal the lives and emotions of great painters Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, William H. Johnson, Lee Krasner, and many others.
See More
This fast-moving collection blends fiction and movie history to illuminate the stimulating lives and careers of noted actors, actresses, and directors. Stars of this book include Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, and Spike Lee.
See More
In this collection of thirty-eight chiseled short stories, George Thomas Clark introduces readers to actors, alcoholics, addicts, writers famous and unknown, a general, a lovelorn farmer, a family besieged by cancer, extraterrestrials threatening the world, a couple time traveling back to a critical battle, a deranged husband chasing his wife, and many more memorable people…
See More
Anne Frank On Tour and Other Stories
This lively collection offers literary short stories founded on History, Love, Need, Excess, and Final Acts.
See More
In lucid prose author George Thomas Clark recalls the challenges of growing up in a family beset by divorce, depression, and alcoholism, and battling similar problems as an adult.
See More
Let’s invite many of the greatest boxers and their contemporaries to tell their own stories, some true, others tales based on history. The result is a fascinating look into the lives and battles of those who thrilled millions but often ruined themselves while so doing.
See More
In a rousing trip through the worlds of basketball and football, George Thomas Clark explores the professional basketball league in Mexico, the Herculean talents of Wilt Chamberlain, the artistry of LeBron James, the brilliance of Bill Walsh, and lots more. Half the stories are nonfiction and others are satirical pieces guided by the unwavering hand of an inspired storyteller.
See More
Get on board this collection of satirical stories, based on news, about the entertaining but absurd and often quite dangerous events following the election of President Donald J. Trump in November 2016 until January 6, 2021, shortly after his loss to Joe Biden.
See More
Join Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and other notables on a raucous ride into a fictional world infused with facts from one of the roughest political races in modern U.S. history.
See More
History and literary fiction enliven the Barack Obama phenomenon from the African roots of his father and grandfather to the United States where young Obama struggles to control vices and establish his racial identity. Soon, the young politician is soaring but under fire from a variety of adversaries including Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
See More
These satirical columns allow startlingly candid Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush to explain their need to control the destinies of countries, regions, and, ultimately, the world. Osama bin Laden, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Karl Rove, and other notables, not all famous, also demand part of the stage.
See More
Where Will We Sleep
Determined to learn more about those who fate did not favor, the author toured tattered, handmade refuges of those without homes and interviewed them on the streets and in homeless shelters, and conversed with the poor in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, and Spain, and on occasion wrote composite stories to illuminate their difficult lives.
See More
In search of stimulating stories, the author interviewed prostitutes in Madrid, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua and on many boulevards in the United States, and he talked to detectives and rode the rough roads of social workers who deal with human trafficking, which is contemporary slavery, and sometimes used several lives to create stories, and everywhere he ventured he witnessed struggles of those whose lives are bound In Other Hands.
See More
In compressed language Clark presents a compilation of short stories and creative columns about relationships between men and women.
See More