Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Pablo Picasso, Apollinaire blessé (Apollinaire Wounded), 1916, pencil on paper, 48.8 x 30.5 cm.

© Succession Picasso 1998. Any other rights reserved.


68 - Pablo Picasso

Closer still is this drawing, dedicated "To my friend Guillaume Apollinaire". The poet and the painter had been friends for ten years by this time, a friendship further strengthened by the fact that in his articles and his Aesthetic Meditations, Apollinaire repeatedly states his admiration for Picasso, analysing his works and asserting that they were decisive even beyond Cubism itself. The poet was wounded near Rheims and nursed in Paris, and this portrait of the soldier in uniform, decorated with the Croix de Guerre, wearing his boots, full of authority, pays tribute to his bravery. It was Picasso's response, two years later and much less serious in tone, to the depiction of Apollinaire brandishing his sword. Between times there had been the first blood-letting and the wounding of Braque and Cendrars.

Coquelicot " The sky is starlit with the Boche's shells
The marvellous forest where I live is giving a ball
The machine-gun plays a demisemiquaver tune
Do you have the word
Oh yes! the fateful word
To the breach To the breach Leave the picks there

Like a bewildered star looking for its seasons
Heart exploded shell you whistled your romance
And your thousand suns have emptied the caissons
That the gods of my eyes fill in silence "

Guillaume Apollinaire, "April night 1915", Calligrammes.