Lydie Salvayre spent a whole night alone at the Picasso Museum during its Picasso-Giacometti exhibition. Having had a lasting passion for The Walking Man (a work that she sees as the very essence of art but had only previously seen photographed in magazines), she was sure to be profoundly moved when confronted with so much beauty. And yet, seeing this “motionless, frozen but also moving body, like a waves at sea that the cold has frozen the swell” produces only mild irritation in her.
Is she illiterate in beauty? Is this sensibility passed on only among the well-to-do to reinforce their exclusivity? Unless the space is cramping the piece and robbing it of its profound message? She is in a turmoil and plagued by questions.
Between the lines – as the author reveals her relationship with her father, her family of exiled Spanish communists, her obsession with humility and the denunciation anchored within every injustice – the reader gradually discovers her demanding expectations of art and her fear of death. A powerful, full-blooded read.
Lydie Salvayre has written some twenty books, translated into many languages, including Pas pleurer which won the 2014 prix Goncourt (300,000 copies sold).