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My friend Picasso

The Côte d’Azur has attracted many artists. Here, Pablo Picasso lived and painted for decades. His name has been associated with other such magical places as Juan-le-Pins, Mougins, Vallauris, Antibes, Monte Carlo and St. Tropez, and it was in those places where the path of photographer Edward Quinn crossed that of the world master. Yet, it was on the Côte d’Azur where Quinn began photographing film stars and popular personalities of the time, working then for Paris Match and many other magazines and agencies. Quinn’s photography was decisively influenced by a meeting he had with Picasso in 1951. Through his work, Quinn earned the artist’s trust and they worked closely together until 1972, with Picasso allowing Quinn to photograph him while he was painting, making sculptures and in the pottery workshop.

Quinn’s camera could also peek into the artist’s private life. He would photograph him resting and with friends and family, first with his wife François Gilot, later with Jacqueline Roque, children and favorite animals. During their fruitful and close collaboration, Quinn made nearly ten thousand photos of Picasso’s life and work, shooting the artist from many angles as few photographers had ever done. Many photographers from around the world took pictures of Picasso but they focused more on making portraits of him. Top photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Robert Capa and others never had the opportunity Edward Quinn had to convey Picasso’s personality either while he was creating art or in studying how complex a person Picasso was. His photos show Picasso candidly at the moment, in a way no one else could have ever arranged in advance. Quinn had an intuitive sense, knew how best to set up the camera so as to transform the moment and have his results be a witness to the uniqueness of Picasso’s personality.

The Danubiana is exhibiting a selection of 125 photographs that capture the twenty-year friendship between Quinn and Picasso. They have been lent by the Musée Picasso in Antibes, France, where they are shown under the name Picasso sans cliché.