British art historian, curator and author, John Richardson died at the age of 95 on March 12th 2019 in his home in Manhattan.The death of the exceptional dedicated - Pablo Picasso biographer, was confirmed by Shelley Wagner, his editor at Alfred A. Knopf.
Richardson who is other excellent skill was making friends, had a wide circle of them, including artists and writers, the likes of Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Léger, Nicholas de Staël, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Nancy Mitford. His imitable looks which could be said to be a gift had him model for most of artistic friends. Artists Lucian Freud and Andy Warhol painted him, and at one time David Hockney made a portrait of him. Another friend of his, Jenny Saville, who described Richardson to possess a very strong demeanour of life and vulnerability, photographed him a number of times for both clothed and nude shoots.
John Richardson will not only be remembered for his writing skills but also his abilities in the art market. In 1960, when he relocated to New York, he organized a nine-gallery Picasso retrospective. He was then appointed at Christie's to open their U.S. office, which he served as the head for a period of nine years. In 1973, he was appointed the vice president at the New York gallery M. Knoedler & Co, where he oversaw the 19th and 20th century artworks. He later became the managing director at Artemis, an art-investment firm.
Richardson first met Picasso in 1948, when art historian Douglas Cooper took him to the artist’s studio. The two met again circa 1951, when Richardson and Cooper visited Picasso’s home in Vallauris, on the coast of southeastern France.
Mr Richardson took advantage of his friendship with Picasso to put to words the artist’s personal life and work life in detail. In the year 1980, Richardson started devoting all his time to writing and worked on his Picasso’s biography. His first Picasso book, “A Life of Picasso: The Prodigy, 1881-1906” which covered Picasso’s earliest years was published in 199 and won the Whitbread Award – honoring writers across Britain and Ireland. The next editions covered 1907-1916 and 1917-1932 were published in 1996 and 2007 respectively.
Up until his death, Richardson was working on the fourth edition of Picasso’s biography, which according to Ms Wagner was close to completion although no publication date has been set. His writings skills, captivating had many looking forward to Richardson’s Picasso writings. His books were regarded as biographies of the highest literary quality possessing knowledge, poetry and passion etc.
Born in London on February 6th 1924 to Wodehouse Richardson and Patty Richardson, John Patrick Richardson also wrote and presented a Channel 4 series, Picasso: Magic, Sex and Death, in 2001, and contributed to various TV programs about Picasso and other artists.