Brassaï

Friday 9 April 1944

Picasso is unusually elegant today: dark blue suit, white shirt, checkered red tie. Jean Marais is there, his Samoyed dog at his side as usual. Amid the other people, I am delighted to see Pierre Reverdy again. I like his male voice, his black Chasselas eyes–close relatives of Picasso’s own–the haughty way he holds his head and even his mood swings, his quick temper. He questions me. I tell him I had to flee my apartment, take refuge among friends, and live with a fake identity card. Mobilized as a former officer in the Romanian army, I chose to desert. Even though Reverdy is not directly threatened, he is overwhelmed by the war, as someone who saw death everywhere even when it was more discreet. He asks me if I can see the end of it. I quote this line, which Léon-Paul Fargue uttered at the Brasserie Lipp shortly before his attack: “What a time we are living in, dear freind! Rabbit pelts are worth more than human ones.”  (pg. 153)

***

Thursday 22 September 1960
[from a dialogue with Georges Duthuit’s wife, Marguerite Matisse.]

Brassaï: Do you still see Picasso very often?

Mme Duthuit: Very rarely. When I happen to run into him, he is the soul of kindness. He heaps reproaches on me: “Marguerite, why don’t you ever come to see me anymore? We’re all in the same boat now, we’re all the same age…” But if I call him or try to see him, I run into a wall.

Brassaï: During a short stay at the coast, Pierre Reverdy, not wanting to submit to that sometimes humiliating ordeal, let Picasso know he would like very much to see him, but only on condition that Picasso be the one to take the trouble. And Picasso went to see his friend. But if he did that for everyone, he wouldn’t have any time left to paint. (pg. 332)

Conversations with Picasso
translated by Jean Marie Todd

reverdy’s house

I entered Reverdy’s home
without knowing the poet,
without knowing the architect,
without knowing the mason;
but I discovered his house
on my journey,
after a crossroads, on a mountain path
not much wider than one’s steps.
It seemed, from inside, to be very small
like familiar words:
a house for one man’s gestures and sleep;
but, like the memory of the world, it is astonishing,
with its embedded mirrors
and the silence between its doors,
with its stones from the different ages of thought
and its shining star, 
 the night.

Edmond Jabès
August 1960
(pg. 148, Mercure de France No. 1181 January 1962)