Kevin Jackson

We Need to Talk about Pablo

Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica


Princeton University Press 329pp £29.95 order from our bookshop

Philip Larkin, who hated artistic modernism with a passion that bordered on (or sometimes crossed the border into) rage, blamed the whole ghastly mess on the three Ps: Ezra Pound, Charlie Parker and Pablo Picasso. Between them, these rotters had taken things that used to be nice – poetry, jazz and painting – and made them thoroughly nasty. ‘I dislike such things not because they are new, but because they are irresponsible exploitations of technique in contradiction of human life as we know it.’ Worse still, he went on, the three Ps had bred a new class of academic shysters and trendy fools who made cushy lives for themselves by peddling the nonsense that these P-artists were in fact the greatest talents of the age.

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