Monday, October 25, 2010

Pablo Picasso -- Happy Birthday -- posted by Florida Fine Art Blog

Pablo Picasso October 25th 1881 – April 8th 1973.  Possibly the most famous artist in the world, Picasso had great success in life and helped transform and move art in new directions.  My favorites are his "Blue Period" and the ceramics done during his last years.

There is a great Picasso/ Florida Highwaymen story that I don't think many have heard.  I was lucky enough to have James Gibson tell me the story himself.  Most who are interested in the Florida Highwaymen have already heard that Al Hair, one of the founders and most industrious of the group, claimed that the goal of painting was so that one day he could buy a new Cadillac.  In the early days in Fort Peirce, Florida there were few opportunities to earn enough money to buy a new car, much less a new Caddy.  Al Hair, even at such a young age, saw painting as a way to legally make lots of money; or at least that was the dream.  I was with James Gibson recounting stories when I asked him about Al and how he always wanted a new Cadillac when James exclaimed, "But do you know why he thought that?  Do you know who gave us the idea we could make that kind of money?  No one knows the whole story!" 

So here is the whole story as told to me by James Gibson. 

It was the early 1950's.  Al Hair and James Gibson were making extra money building frames for Beanie Backus's paintings.  Bean was selling his work so fast that he needed help making frames and delivering his work.  Al and James were always hanging around Bean's studio so Bean taught them how to make frames.  He would pay them a small amount per frame and get them to deliver the paintings.  On one of these occasions the two young boys were delivering a painting to a big house on the island of Palm Beach.  James said the owner was nice enough to show them around the house so they could see all the artwork; they were amazed that one person would buy so many paintings.  When they were about to leave, the owner asked if they could stay for a few more minutes as he had just heard that an artist was on the way with a new painting.  The owner told James and Al that it was a very famous artist and they should meet him.  James said they waited a long time and then up the winding driveway came a beautiful brand new gray Rolls Royce.  The Rolls parked and out of the back stepped a little old man.  Al and James were introduced and Al quickly asked, "Is that your car?"  "Yes", said the old man.  "Well", James said, "that was it for Al.   He could not get over the fact that this little old man, this artist, was driving around in a new Rolls Royce."  Al and James went back to Beanie's studio with renewed purpose, they were going to learn all they could and paint every day.  One day they too would own a brand new car, and not just any car, but a brand new Cadillac!  The little old man in the story was none other than Pablo Picasso! Fifty years later as James Gibson finished the story he looked at me with a sparkle in his eye and said, "Glenn, look over there, see that brand new white Cadillac Escalade?  It's mine all mine!"  GL

Pablo Picasso website

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