Project Description


(1980) (RT 90:00)
(Produced and Directed by Perry Miller Adato)
My work is my diary. For those who know how to read, I have painted my autobiography.” Picasso has left a diary and not just in paint.  In addition to more than 6000 paintings, Picasso created sketches, drawings, sculpture, toys, ceramic pottery, collages, costumes and stage sets.  All were connected to a particular moment in his life; even his most enigmatic cubist paintings were never divorced from reality. But the documentary does more than discover the sources of Picasso’s work– it asks: what does Picasso himself have to say? Much of the narrative consists of excerpts from Picasso’s letters, diaries, notebooks, interviews and writings voiced by the fine actor, Hector Elizando.

This passionately researched portrait is, in effect, a Picasso film retrospective, from his childhood drawings in Malaga, Spain to his last paintings made in Cannes, France. The film combines famous and seldom seen examples of his work relating them to the places he lived, events that moved him, the art he saw and the women he loved.  The viewer is transported thru on-location cinematography to Barcelona, Horta de Ebro (Spain), to Paris and to Picasso’s home “La Californie” on the French Riviera.  In Paris, daughter Paloma Picasso and son Claude Picasso emphasize that there was no distinction between their father’s artistic life and his personal life.  In other locations, Spanish and French critics and writers who have devoted much of their professional lives to Picasso’s oeuvre, plus the famed photographer Brassai, painter Joan Miro and a few intimate friends, express penetrating and contrasting views of the complex artist. They offer keen recollections and anecdotes, critical, pungent and/or affectionate. William Rubin (former Director of the Dept. of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art) had a unique relationship with Picasso. Their long friendship enabled him to create MOMA’s remarkable Picasso collection and, in extensive conversations on-camera, to give the viewer of Picasso: A Painter’s Diary an inside look and a deeper appreciation of this great figure of twentieth century art.


“Perry Miller Adato has been unusually sensitive to the protean personality of the artist, making a human portrait out of what are usually impersonal art histories…her latest documentary is a remarkable achievement, turning an extraordinary collection of formidable artworks into a richly satisfying human experience.”
–NC News Service

“Picasso – A Painter’s Diary, the 90 minute film is produced and directed by WNET-TV’s Perry Miller Adato, much lauded for her previous films on Gertrude Stein and Georgia O’Keeffe.

In tracing the immense span of Picasso’s creative years, from his days as a wunderkind in his native Malaga to his old age as a wunderkind in the south of France, the film gives us as varied a view of Picasso himself as the Modern’s show gives of his art.

I wanted to give an idea about what Picasso himself thought and felt about painting, life, love; what he had to say on his chief influences, the turning points of his work, the sources of his art…

She (Adato) has managed to accomplish her aim by using movie footage and stills, location shots of Picasso’s landscapes and milieus, readings by actors of his writings, interviews with his children, friends (including the artist Joan Miro) and appreciaters, plus juxtapositions of the artist’s paintings with places and people in his life. To “background” the famous “Guernica” mural done by Picasso in 1937, for example she uses footage with sound effects, of a bombing raid on a small town in the Spanish Civil war.

Of Picasso, the man and the artist, there is plenty of interesting talk…Joseph Palau I Fabre, a prolific Spanish writer on Picasso, credits the artist with creating a new painting style for each of the women in his life. “It’s as if for the new woman he didn’t want the sheets of his former bed. He offered the new woman a new style! He created for her a new world. I don’t think there’s another artist in the world who could have done this.”

The artist Miro assesses him: “what he gave us was a summing up, profound and cruel of the entire history of painting. He opened all doors for us. After this, we had a sense of freedom. We breathed the open air.” And that Picasso was no saint is made clear in a comment from the French photographer Brassai: “He was Machiavellian with women, with dealers. He liked to see them jealous and in competition with each other.”
–Grace Glueck, New York Times

“…thus our society is being accorded the privilege of viewing hundreds of his works at the retrospective on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York…But it is also being accorded the more convenient and perhaps even more revealing privilege of learning about this modern master and his work in a film that should be regarded as a required supplement to a visit to the show or as a substitute for those who may not be able to see the show at all: Picasso — A Painter’s Diary.

This superb film is like Picasso himself in that it has many styles to suit its subject, its period, its moods. This is true of the fascinating music tracks as well…Said Picasso; “Painting is a question-it alone gives the answer.” For laymen and casual art appreciators who have become accustomed to seeing the many styles of Pablo Picasso in museums, in reproduction in homes or books, this film is an extraordinary opportunity to be helped with “the answer.” It is the quintessential art film — allowing you to meet and understand the man as well as the artist.

If you watch only one television show this season, let it be Picasso – A Painters’ Diary.”
– Arthur Unger, The Christian Science Monitor


Director: Perry Miller Adato
Producer: Perry Miller Adato
Writer: Jean-Claude Van Italie
Editor: Eugene Marner

Hector Elizando: Pablo Picasso
Robert Dryden: Jaime Sabartes
Jill Eikenberry: Fernande Olivier
Jan Miner: Gertrude Stein
Nicholas Kepros: Jean Cocteau
Guy Sorel: Additional Voices

Associate Producer: Sara Lukinson
Production Coordinator and Research: Patricia Zohn
Camera: Jean Monsigny (Europe), Vic Losick, Fred Murphy (USA)
Camera Animation: Christopher Kogler, Henry Lykes
Titles: Henry Wolf
Assistant Film Editor: David Rogow
Apprentice Editors: Lucia Vail, Ruth Bonomo
Production Manager (Europe): Jaqueline Sigaar
Researcher Therese Steiner
Music Supervisor: John Adams
Assistant: Rosemary Fishel
Production Comptroller: Don Sussman
Production Assistant: Julia Hufferd
Casting: Deborah Brown
Assistant Camera:
Christian Zviie (Europe), Gabor Kover, Lisa Rinzier (USA)
Sound: Alain Curveillier (Europe), Larry Loewinger, Maryte Kavliauskas (USA)
Gaffers: Bernard Daniel (Europe), Stuart Math, Peter Pearse (USA)
Photographers: David Douglas Duncan, Brassai, Robert Capa, Alexander Liberman, Man Ray, Andre Villers, Lee Miller, Dora Maar

Paloma Picasso
Claude Picasso
Josep Palau I Fabre-Poet and Critic
Joan Miro- Painter
Pierre Daix-Writer
William Rubin, Dir. Dept. of Painting and Sculpture, MOMA
Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler, Picasso art dealer
Helene Parmelin, writer
Edouard Pignon -Painter

Special Acknowledgements:
William Rubin, Director Dept. of Painting and Sculpture, MOMA
The Staff of the Museum of Modern Art
Dominique Bozo and the French National Museums
Museo Picasso, Barcelona
Musee Picasso, Antibes
Syndicat d’Initiative, Mougins
Sir Roland Penrose
Eduardo Berrondo
Maria-Teresa Conill
Jose Luis Roselio
Jeanine Warnod

Literary Sources:
Picasso et Ses Amis Editions Stock
Picasso- An Intimate Portrait Prentice- Hall Inc.
Picasso B/T Batsford Ltd.
Cocteau Atlantic –Little Brown
The Blue Guitar poem by Wallace Stevens
La Jolie Rousse poem by Guillaume Apollinaire

Archival Sources:
Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Mr. And Mrs James W. Alsdorf
Art Gallery of Ontario
Art Institute of Chicago
Aquarella Gallery
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Baltimore Museum of Art
Beinecke Library, Yale University
Collection of Mr. And Mrs. Leigh B. Block
Editions Cahiers d’Art
Editions Pierre Callier
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Conde Nast Publications
Fogg Art Museum
French Cultural Services
Editions Gallimard
Collection of Mr. And Mrs Victor W. Ganz
Goteborges Konstmusseum,
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Stephen Hahn, Inc
The Hermitage Museum, Leningrad
Kunstmuseum, Base
Kunstmuseum, Berne
Sam A Lewinsohn Collection
Ludwig Collection, Aschen
Galerie Maeght
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum Folkswagen, Essen,
National Archives, Washing ton DC
National Gallery, Washington D.C
National Gallery of Prague
New York Public Library
New York Society Library
Kunstsammlung Nordheim-Westfahlen
Collection of William S. Paley
Paris Galleries, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Photo X Archives
Pushkin Museum, Moscow
Galerie Rosengart lucerne
Sala Pares, Barcelona
Mrs Bertram Smith
Stravinsky-Diaghilev Foundation
Tate Gallery, London
Malcolm Varon
Viriginia Museum of Fine Arts
Wadsworth Atheneum
Walker Art Center
Collection of Mr and Mrs John Hay Whitney
Worcester Art Museum

Executive Producer: George Page
c. S.P.A.D.E.M, Paris/V.A.G.A, New York
A production of WNET/Thirteen
© 1980 Educational Broadcasting Corporation

The Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Charitable Trust