A Paris Blog reader named Charles has sent in this strange tale of a Picasso sculpture that was supposed to depict someone else…
After World War II, the Paris municipal council wanted to put up a monument to Guillaume Apollinaire, the French poet who was also Picasso’s friend. Picasso was insistent that he create the small monument any way that he desired. As the more conservative people on the Council that didn’t particularly care for his art, they insisted that the they have final approval over the design. Picasso would not do it conditionally. Negotiations went back and forth. Years went by and they put up another large monument in the Square Laurent Prache across from the St. Germain des Pres church that the Apollinaire monument was originally going to be placed. Finally, after several more years, they agreed to let him do it his way. By this time, Picasso was so disgusted by the whole affair that he just gave them a sculpture of the head of Dora Maar that he had made in 1941 to be used as the monument. It was unveiled in 1959 in the little park next to the church on the corner of rue de l’Abbaye and rue Bonaparte.
In April 1999, the very heavy, one-meter tall, bronze sculpture was stolen. (I was in Paris during the time that it was missing and I unfortunately never got around to taking a picture of the concrete stand with only a steel rod sticking out of the top.) In 2003, the head was recovered – apparently taken by people who were sympathetic to Dora Maar who had died in July 1997.
Charles’s blog can be found here.