Pablo Picasso? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: To accomplish an arduous cerebral task it is necessary to avoid quotidian interruptions and achieve a deeper form of concentration. The remarkable painter Pablo Picasso has been credited with the following perceptive adage:
Without great solitude no serious work is possible.
This quotation is popular, but I have only been able to find it on websites and in recent books and periodicals. Are these the genuine words of the modernist master?
Quote Investigator: In 1989 the prominent Spanish writer Camilo Jose Cela told a newspaper reporter that the remark above was spoken to him by Pablo Picasso. Yet, the conversation between Cela and Picasso must have occurred many years before because the famous painter died in 1973. A detailed citation is presented further below.
A similar statement was made by Picasso in 1932 as reported in the newspaper “ABC” based in Madrid, Spain. The news story was obtained via telephone while Picasso was in Paris. The artist emphasized the pivotal importance of solitude to his work. But his description suggested that solitude was a psychological state that he was able to enter without the knowledge of others. Below was the original Spanish text (English is further below): 1
No se puede hacer nada sin la soledad. Me he creado una soledad que nadie sospecha. Pero el reloj dificulta hoy la soledad. ¿Ha visto usted algún santo con reloj?
Picasso’s thoughts were translated and published many years later in 1960 in “The New York Times”. The text consisted of a single paragraph attributed to Picasso in an article section titled “Ideas and Men”; no source for the words was specified: 2
Nothing can be accomplished without solitude. I have made a kind of solitude for myself which nobody is aware of. Today it’s very difficult to be alone because we have watches. Have you ever seen a saint wearing a watch?—PABLO PICASSO
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1932 June 15, ABC Diario Ilustrado (Madrid), Informaciones y noticias del extranjero: ABC en Paris, (Telephone conversation with Pablo Picasso), Start Page 35, Quote Page 36, Madrid. (Online archive of ABC at hemeroteca.abc.es; accessed December 11, 2015) link ↩
- 1960 July 17, New York Times, Opinion of the Week: At Home and Abroad: Ideas and Men, Quote Page E9, Column 6, New York. (ProQuest) ↩