John Richardson (art historian)
Sir John Patrick Richardson, KBE, FBA (born 6 February 1924) is a British art historian and Picasso biographer. Richardson has also worked as an industrial designer and as a reviewer for The New Observer. In 1952, he moved to Provence, where he became friends with Picasso, Léger and de Staël. In 1960, he moved to New York and organized a nine-gallery Picasso retrospective. Christie's then appointed him to open their US office, which he ran for the next nine years. In 1973 he joined New York gallery M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., as vice president in charge of 19th- and 20th-century painting, and later became managing director of Artemis, a mutual fund specializing in works of art.
In 1980 he started devoting all his time to writing and working on his Picasso biography. He has also been a contributor to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. In 1993 Richardson was elected to the British Academy and in 1995 he was appointed Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford. In 2011, Richardson was awarded France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2012 was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Youth and education
John Patrick Richardson was born on 6 February 1924 in London, the elder son of Sir Wodehouse Richardson, KCB, DSO, Quarter-Master General in the Boer War, and founder of London and the British Empire's Army & Navy Stores. His mother was Patty (née Crocker); he had a younger sister (b. 1925) and a younger brother. In 1929, when he was five years old, his father died, and his mother sent him to board at two successive preparatory schools, where he was unhappy. When he was thirteen he became a boarder at Stowe school, where he admired the architecture and landscape and was taught something about the work of Picasso and other innovative painters. By 1939 and the outbreak of World War II he knew that he wanted to become an artist, and, a month short of seventeen, enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art (at that time 'evacuated' to Oxford), where he became a friend of Geoffrey Bennison and James Bailey. When he was called up, he obtained a position in the Irish Guards, but almost immediately contracted rheumatic fever and was invalided out of the army. During this period he met and made friends with Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, both of whom portrayed him later. He spent the rest of the war with his mother and siblings in London. During daytime, he worked as an industrial designer before becoming a reviewer for The New Observer. In 1949 he became acquainted with art historian and collector Douglas Cooper, with whom he would share his life for the next ten years.
Liaison with Douglas Cooper
He moved to southern France (Provence) in 1952, as Douglas Cooper acquired Château de Castille in the vicinity of Avignon and transformed the run-down castle into a private museum of early Cubism. Cooper had been at home in the Paris art scene before World War II and had been active in the art business as well; by building his own collection, he also met many artists personally and introduced them to his friend. Richardson became a close friend of Picasso, Léger and de Staël as well. Back then he developed an interest in Picasso's portraits and contemplated creating a publication; more than 20 years later, these plans expanded into his four-part Picasso biography A Life of Picasso, whose last volume has not yet been published.
In 1960, Richardson left Cooper and moved to New York, where he organized a nine-gallery Picasso retrospective in 1962 and a Braque retrospective in 1964. Christie's then appointed him to open their US office, which he ran for the next nine years. In 1973 he joined New York gallery M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., as Vice President in charge of 19th- and 20th-century painting, and later became Managing Director of Artemis, a mutual fund specializing in works of art.
In 1980 he decided to devote all his time to writing. Besides working on his Picasso biography, he has been a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. In 1993 Richardson was elected to the British Academy and in 1995 he was appointed Slade Professor of Art at Oxford.
The first of four planned volumes of Richardson's A Life of Picasso biography, (originally planned to be published in one single volume), was published in 1991, describing 25 years from his birth to 1906, winning a Whitbread Award. The second volume was published in November 1996, covering 10 years from 1907–1916, covering the birth of Cubism, followed by the third volume in 2007, devoted to the period up to 1932, when Picasso turned 50. Richardson is currently working on the fourth volume, which was originally to span the early 1930s to the liberation of Paris in 1944. Though the fourth volume is behind schedule (it was to be published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2014), Richardson spoke of still progressing with it in a February 11, 2016 interview with Alain Elkann. Richardson stated that he is working daily, "even weekends," on the project with three assistants who are aiding him with writing and research. He stated that he was "up to 1939," and that he hopes to "get through the war." However, the fourth volume may now close at 1940.
15 years after Cooper's death, Richardson published a memoir (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper) in 1999 and a collection of essays in 2001 (Sacred Monsters, Sacred Masters). He was curator of an exhibition of the late Picasso with title Mosqueteros in the Gagosian Gallery in New York City. For the London Gagosian Gallery, he curated another such exhibition in 2010: Picasso - The Mediterranean Years (1945-1962), which ran from 4 June until 28 August 2010.
In 2011, Richardson was awarded France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of his contributions to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.
Richardson was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to art.
- Picasso, Pablo: Aquarelle und Gouachen. Dt. Buch-Gemeinschaft, Berlin 1956
- Manet, Edouard: Gemälde und Zeichnungen. Phaidon Verlag, Köln 1959
- Picasso, Pablo (1964). Watercolors and gouaches. Text by John Richardson. London: Barrie and Rockliff.
- Juan Gris. Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund 1965
- Dorothy M. Kosinski, John Richardson, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel: Douglas Cooper und die Meister des Kubismus. Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel 1987, ISBN 978-3-7204-0052-7
- A Life of Picasso (1991 - ):
- The Prodigy, 1881-1906 (Vol 1). Random House, New York 1991, ISBN 978-0-375-71149-7 (German edition: Kindler, München, 1991)
- The Cubist Rebel, 1907-1916 (Vol 2). Random House, New York 1996, ISBN 978-0-375-71150-3 (German edition: Kindler, 1997)
- The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932 (Vol 3). Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2007, ISBN 978-0-307-26665-1
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper (1999) (German edition: 1999)
- Sacred Monsters, Sacred Masters: Beaton, Capote, Dalí, Picasso, Freud, Warhol, and More. Random House, New York 2001, ISBN 978-0-679-42490-1
- (with Brenda Richardson) Warhol from the Sonnabend Collection (Rizzoli, 2009)
- (with others) Picasso Mosqueteros: The Late Works 1962-1972 (2009)
Essays and reporting
- "Bacon Agonistes", New York Review of Books, 17 December 2009.
- "Cubism steals the show", Vanity Fair v. 634, p. 84-85 (June 2013).
- Picasso: Magic, Sex, Death (2001), writer and presenter
- John Richardson: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1999, p. 4
- John Richardson: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1999, p. 9
- John Richardson: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1999, p. 11
- The Guardian: Demons and beefcake – the other side of Francis Bacon. By Charlotte Higgins, 22. November 2009, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- The Guardian: Sado-masochism and stolen shoe polish: Bacon's legacy revisited Art historian John Richardson's revelations on the troubled artist he knew as a young man. By Charlotte Higgins, 22. November 2009, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- John Richardson: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1999, p. 14
- Charlie Rose: A rebroadcast of a conversation with John Richardson Archived 13 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Video, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- John Richardson: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1999, p. 9/10
- John Richardson: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1999, p. 15
- John Richardson: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1999, p. 87ff.
- John Richardson: The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper., p. 23-24
- The Guardian: Picasso nearly risked his reputation for Franco exhibition Had he accepted it would have been major coup for Falangists and destroyed Picasso's status as hero of left, says biographer. By Charlotte Higgins, 28. Mai 2010, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- THE AI INTERVIEW: John Richardson. Artinfo. By David Grosz, 29 May 2008, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- Random House: John Richardson
- The New York Review of Books: John Richardson, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- The New Yorker: John Richardson, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- Vanity Fair: John Richardson, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- The New York Times: More on the Career of the Genius Who Boldly Compared Himself to God. By MICHIKO KAKUTANI, 6 November 2007, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- ARTnews: Uncovering Picasso's secrets, retrieved 24 January 2013
- The New York Times: The Personal Arcadia of John Richardson, retrieved 30 September 2015
- Alain Elkann Interviews: John Richardson | I am still obsessed by Picasso, retrieved 28 August 2016
- Gagosian Gallery, London: PICASSO - THE MEDITERRANEAN YEARS (1945-1962) Archived 4 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine., retrieved 13 August 2010.
- The Guardian: Picasso shows a softer face in London. The artist's later statues and ceramics, on show at the Gagosian gallery's Mediterranean Years, reveal a tender family man, retrieved 13 August 2010.
- "No. 60009". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2011. p. 24.
- New Year Honours List 2012: full list, Telegraph.co.uk