Picasso’s first word, the story goes, was “piz,” Spanish baby talk for “lapiz” or “pencil.” He never lost his creative focus on the task at hand, producing powerful, highly erotic work, including naked portraits of himself with a model in his studio, right before he died at 91.
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The 20th century’s most influential and fertile artist, Picasso changed all he touched as painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, designer, draftsman, moving forward even into his 10th decade.
While the artists who died young are romanticized -- think Keats, Mozart, Schiele -- there are many who continued to work and develop into old age without becoming repetitive, blithering fools.
I spoke with Nicholas Delbanco, author of “Lastingness: The Art of Old Age,” on the following topics:
1. Long Life, Creative Mind
2. “My Work Is My Life”
3. A Late Style?
4. Freedom to Adventure
5. Youth Culture
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(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)