Walking Pablo

Reviewed by Kunio Francis Tanabe
Sunday, August 6, 2006


A Dachshund's Odyssey

By David Douglas Duncan

Bulfinch. 100 pp. $24.95

The women in Picasso's life are famous: Eva, Olga, Dora, Jacqueline, etc., but you probably haven't heard of the pooches the artist adored: Lump, the dachshund, for instance. One day in 1956, American photographer David Douglas Duncan arrived at Villa La Californie, Picasso's French Riviera home, with a pup named Lump. How he got his name is unclear. Compared with the photographer's other dog, a sleek Afghan hound, the dachshund may have looked like a clod. Poor Lump was tyrannized by the tall Afghan while in Rome until Duncan drove him off to visit Picasso and Jacqueline and deposited him at their elegant villa. "The day Lump discovered Villa La Californie, instantly probing its silent rooms and mysterious garden, he saw himself in a Picasso portrait on a . . . luncheon plate," writes Duncan. Lump was instantly immortalized on that plate by Picasso with a dedication, " Pour Lump ."

Picasso & Lump: A Dachshund's Journey is a photo essay by the photographer closest to the celebrated artist. In this intimate set of photographs, Duncan, the hardened combat photographer, shifts gears to capture a dog's charmed life: as pet and prop for the artist and playmate to his children. There is Lump with the goat Esmeralda or with Yan, the ferocious looking yet gentle boxer. Leave it to Picasso to play the role of matchmaker, fixing Lump up with Lolita, a dark-haired dachshund, after discovering that both dogs had never known the joys of mating.

Duncan's photographs reveal Picasso's contented life: with his last muse, Jacqueline Roque, whom he married in 1961, with his paintings and sculptures that are spread helter-skelter throughout the villa, awaiting the master's Midas touch for completion. And Lump is ubiquitous in the villa: begging for food under the dinner table, in the studio while the maestro shapes his lump of clay, and on his canvases, immortalized in Picasso's variations of Velázquez's painting "Las Meninas."

Lump lived with Picasso and Jacqueline happily ever after, that is, until his and Picasso's deaths in 1973. ·

Kunio Francis Tanabe is a senior editor and art director of Book World.

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