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Documentation

Le Mystère Picasso

In 1956 the French director Henri-Georges Clouzot, working with Claude Renoir as cinematographer and editor Henri Colpi, collaborated with Pablo Picasso to produce a 78 minute documentary film entitled Le Mystère Picasso (The Mystery of Picasso). The film shows the making of a large number of drawings and paintings by Pablo Picasso. Picasso appears in some sequences, but in many the camera is placed at the back of the surface he is working on, allowing the viewer to see lines and forms appearing through the translucent material without seeing the artist himself.

The works were made for the purpose of being filmed – to demonstrate the acts of drawing and painting – and were reportedly destroyed after the film.

Watch the introduction to the film here

Picasso was also famously fascinated by his own creative process, using his own simple numbering system comprised of the date of execution and Roman numerals that recorded the order of works made within each day, to inform future audiences of the evolution of his ideas and images. This number often appeared as a graphic element in his sketchbooks and drawings, giving his zeal for documentation an aesthetic face.