m  a  r  k    e  r  i  c  k  s  o  n    p  a  i  n  t  i  n  g  s

Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson
Air Corps 1942 - 1945

Click to view Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson's complete thirty five 
mission list and twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses flown between
March 27th thru August 26th, 1944 out of Horham Airfield, England.

As a painter I love to read well written biographies and this one by Hungarian/French photographer Gyula Halász who went by the name Brassai is one of my favorites. Published in French 1964, "Conversations with Picasso," is a fantastic exploration of artist lives in precarious times. Written in a diary style by Brassai detailing his life in Paris and specifically countless tales of his close ties to his friend and collaborator, the painter Pablo Picasso. The writer Henry Miller wrote the preface and artist Roland Penrose wrote the introduction to the book.

The period of particular interest in the book are 1939 through 1945 and covers the entire German occupation of Paris. Below is a group discussion between Picasso, Brassai and Andre Malraux, commander of the Maquis in Lot-et-Garonne & Correze, one of the leaders of the French Resistance. Picasso lived and worked at his Rue Grands Augustins studio from 1937 to 1948 and painted his epic canvas Guernica there in 1937.

The book covers a lot of ground, but these passages relate to the discussion of the 8th Air Corps & RAF bombings of German cities. "Conversations with Picasso," is an incredible over-view of what life was like for many painters, dancers, sculptors, writers and musicians living and existing during the 1939-1944 Paris Occupation by the German Army.

Every time I have been to Paris I journey up to Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement to Picasso's old studio at 7 Rue Grands Augustins. It is a magical spot for me and the location where this discussion took place in early 1945. A friend took the two photographs below of me standing in front of Picasso's studio a decade ago. Every time I so wanted to go inside, but for years it has been a private residence.

Roland Penrose was a fascinating man, he was raised as a Quaker and was a pacifist, yet after the outbreak of war he volunteered as an air raid warden. He then taught military camouflage at the Home Guard training center at Osterley Park. This led to Penrose's commission as a captain in the Royal Engineers. He worked as Senior Lecturer at the Eastern Command Camouflage School in Norwich, and at the Camouflage Development and Training Center at Farnham Castle, Surrey. During Penrose's lectures, he used to startle his audiences by inserting a color photograph of his partner/later to-be wife, the well-known photographer Lee Miller, lying on a lawn, naked with a camouflage net covering her. (Photograph included below)

When challenged, he argued, "if camouflage can hide Lee's charms and beauty, it can hide anything." Penrose's noted surrealist technique was being put into service for Britain. His lectures were respected by both trainees and colleagues. In 1941 Penrose wrote the Home Guard Manual of Camouflage, which provided accurate guidance on the use of texture, not only color, especially for protection from aerial photography (monochrome at that time).

Penrose applied for a job at the Foreign Office, but was turned down because of a perceived security risk, possibly relating to the investigation of Lee Miller by MI5 for possibly being a Soviet Spy. Miller was fully exonerated of these charges and continued on ad world-renown photojournalist and photographer.

After the war, Penrose co-founded the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, with the art critic and writer Herbert Read in 1947. Penrose organized the first two ICA exhibitions: 40 Years of Modern Art, which included many key works of Cubism, and 40,000 Years of Modern Art, which reflected his interest in African sculpture. Penrose was a presence at the ICA for 30 years; he produced a number of books, which cover the works of his friends Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Man Ray and Antoni Tapies. He was also a trustee of the Tate Gallery.

Penrose's bold and enigmatic surrealist paintings, drawings and objects are some of the most enduring images of the Surrealistic movement. He is remembered for his postcard collages, examples of which are found in major national collections across Britain. He was awarded the CBE in 1960, and he was knighted for his services to the visual arts in 1966. The University of Sussex awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Letters in 1980.

Books by Brassai

  • Brassai
  • Roland Penrose
  • Lee Miller
  • Henry Miller

  • Click to view a High Resolution image

    Click to view a High Resolution image

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    Photojournalist and photographer Lee Miller, lying on a lawn, naked with a camouflage net covering her. Penrose's noted surrealist technique was being put into service for the British Army as an example for the use of camouflage.

    Photograph by Roland Penrose.

    Click to view a High Resolution image

    Near Picasso's studio this wall engraving can be found. It reads translated from the French: Louis XIII received the sacrament here, one hour after the assassination of his father Henry IV.

    Click to view a High Resolution image

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