From somewhere in the depths of my memory, I recalled watching a black and white movie of Picasso painting on a piece of glass, the camera filming his every assured stroke and wink and grin. I couldn’t tell you whether I first saw this on PBS, or in a darkened classroom at some out-of-pocket moment in my childhood. The repeated flashing of this memory, in some (day)dreams and at the end of my pen, led me to finding “Visite à Picasso” [“A Visit with Picasso”] by Paul Haesaerts, a Belgian filmmaker, artist, and historian. Here’s the poem that memory and film inspired, and then after, the actual documentary for your consideration.
Filming Picasso Paint Backwards on a Sheet of Glass But does he really? It only seems so as we gaze through the looking glass the assured movements of the man whose brush dips into paint and knows exactly where to begin, a single stroke zipping up one side of the plexi, then languidly down the other. thin lines of acrylic or oil quickly form a bird, then another--an owl? a falcon? a swallow? see the camera jump and the glass is clear again, blank as canvas and now vase, and flowers--chrysanthemums? lilies?-- feels like home. see the pastoral scene the goat and the shepherd, fluting and idling beneath the tree, a nymph floating and dancing in the glassy spring air, bright and so crisp. we see him peck and wink, that giveaway grin giving himself away in what might be hide-and- seek studio peek- a-boo and now see how there are bulls, and next a windexed doorway or full-length mirror. long lingering strokes pattern a nude, tall and leggy before us, churns and whirls of breasts, tresses freshly brushed/fleshed out, a paint-stroke smile, and finally a tulip substitution that plants everything in the imagination, the blossom and bloom of a flickering black-and-white movie magic
©David Siller – 2021
A brief, helpful article about this film can be found here