Picasso the Foreigner: An Artist in France, 1900-1973

(Author) (Translator)

Product Details

$40.00  $37.20
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
6.22 X 9.29 X 2.13 inches | 1.94 pounds

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About the Author

Annie Cohen-Solal, a writer and social historian, is Distinguished Professor at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. She has taught in Berlin, Jerusalem, New York, and Paris, and served as the cultural counselor to the French embassy in the United States. Her books include biographies of Jean-Paul Sartre, Leo Castelli, and Mark Rothko, all of which have been widely translated. Picasso the Foreigner was awarded the 2021 Prix Femina Essai; an exhibition curated by Cohen-Solal and based on the research for this book appeared in Paris at the Museum of the History of Immigration, in partnership with the national Picasso Museum, in 2021.

Sam Taylor is an award-winning literary translator and novelist. He has translated more than sixty books from the French, including Laurent Binet's HHhH and Leïla Slimani's The Perfect Nanny.


"[Picasso the Foreigner] manages to approach the great artist from a new and revealing perspective . . . [Cohen-Solal] makes the compelling case that Picasso's status as an outsider was integral to his genius for boundary breaking." --Claire Messud, Harper's

"Cohen-Solal makes a strong case that Picasso's expatriate identity largely determined the trajectory of his life and oeuvre . . . A robust, prodigiously researched art history." --Kirkus Reviews

"[Cohen-Solal] has done scholars a service by doggedly working through the archives to see how this great artist responded to repeated threats to his stability as an outsider in France . . . This hydra of a book, one head assessing Picasso's art, the other looking at how he negotiated his position in France in politically tense times, is strongly recommended to all Picasso enthusiasts." --Library Journal

"A beguiling read, as ingenious as it is ambitious. Follow Annie Cohen-Solal on her provocative 'treasure hunt' through the archives and into the unexpectedly intertwined histories of art, immigration, and surveillance, and see Picasso and Paris shimmering with new light." --Mark Braude, author of Kiki Man Ray: Art, Love, and Rivalry in 1920s Paris

"This inspired and innovative biography demonstrates that Picasso's visionary approach to art was fundamentally shaped by his experience of being a 'foreigner' in France. Once you have read it, you'll never see his work the same way again." --Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse

"A hitherto-unfamiliar, migrant, unassimilable, recalcitrant Picasso whose ever-rebellious spirit never succumbed to the glory of his worldly success comes to life in Annie Cohen-Solal's magnificent and evocative biography of the artist. Picasso the Foreigner gives us a fresh perspective from which to view his oeuvre. Meticulously researched, it speaks to contemporary concerns about race, class, identity, exclusion, and radical forms of subaltern cosmopolitanism. A brilliant tour de force." --Dipesh Chakrabarty, professor of history at the University of Chicago and author of Provincializing Europe

"In our own frightening time of anti-immigration phobia, Annie Cohen-Solal's new book almost reads like a mystery novel. She is a relentless investigator, who probes Picasso's perilous journey from an unwanted hobo migrant in Montmartre to a prince of the avant-garde. This is a magical book." --Jerome Charyn, author of Big Red and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

"Annie Cohen-Solal is a life-historian in peak form. She captures Picasso's multiple lives as he transcended borders and shattered genres--while suspected by France's art establishment and surveilled by France's police informers and snitches. Cohen-Solal's Picasso was a worldly figure navigating a world of oftentimes cruel nationalism. Picasso the Foreigner is a remarkable work of art and an important work of research excavation." --Jeremy Adelman, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Princeton University

"Annie Cohen-Solal's magnificent biography, deeply researched in French archives and attentive to the contributions of the social sciences, reveals a hitherto unknown Picasso whose artistic strategies and identities were informed by his status as a foreigner. Her work is a remarkable contribution not only to Picasso studies but also to the history of twentieth century France." --Peter Sahlins, professor of history emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley

"Picasso survived, thrived, and fed his creativity by using his foreignness strategically to advance his aesthetic and political causes in France, Spain, and internationally. He simultaneously was shaped by and challenged the worlds in which he lived. Delving into letters and records and engaging in deep investigations no one else has, Cohen-Solal offers a stunning indictment of the French establishment, from its police to its academies, while also presenting a complex picture of a genius, his friendships, his politics, and his art. This tour de force offers a new and revelatory portrait of Picasso." --Margaret Levi, professor of political science at Stanford University

"Annie Cohen-Solal's fascinating inquiry, via history and sociology, has produced a true polyfocal book and a conceptual revolution on the Picasso narrative. With the new horizons that she opens up, we get the revisited image of a genius who was long perceived through an artistic prism only." --Laurent Le Bon, president of the Centre Pompidou, Paris