During the 1980s, Swedish-born Billy Klüver became a sort of amateur archivist, collecting early-20th-century photographs of the bohemian district of Paris known as Montparnasse. One day he stumbled upon a group of astonishing photographs depicting such seminal modernist figures as Modigliani; Picasso; his friend, the poet Max Jacob; and the poet and critic André Salmon as well as Picasso's mistress, P`querette. Like an archaeologist reconstructing an artifact, Klüver set about trying to determine how, where, and why the pictures were taken. The result of his efforts is the whimsical and engaging A Day with Picasso
, centering around 24 pictures taken on the afternoon of August 12, 1916, over the course of four hours. The photographer? None other than Jean Cocteau, in an early experiment that perhaps prefigured his later films. Brought together by an exhibit at the Salon d'Antin, the famous subjects are shown laughing and clowning their way through a café lunch and later adjourning to a nearby restaurant.
A Day with Picasso also contains a detailed précis of Cocteau's work, some contextual background about the subjects and their relationships to one another, and some sample drawings from the artists whose relaxed camaraderie is so vividly captured in these intriguing photographs.