Dora Versus Picasso

Written by Cecil Jenkins
Review by Christoph Fischer

Dora Versus Picasso is an insightful and well researched historical novel that explores the relationship between the painter, Picasso, and one of his ‘muses,’ Dora, an accomplished artist herself.

Jenkins writes in informative style and in great, immaculately documented detail about the artist’s life in France in the 1930s and 1940s; from cigarette brands to film releases, bohemian pastimes, sexual liberation and political and historical developments, all is included.

Dora, as the lesser known character, provides the more interesting aspects of the story, be it her role as woman, as partly Jewish or as the counter force to Picasso that the title of this book promises. She is a strong and multi-layered character whose life is affected by the painter and the times, and who, in turn, affects the painter. The book has a number of interesting side characters, too.

While I found the relationship part very fascinating, I would have liked to have seen an author’s note that explained where the line between speculation / fact / fiction was drawn, and which sources had been used. I found myself a little distracted by not knowing those aspects of historical data that for the regular reader are not as easy to verify. Without it, it is hard to judge the historical value of this otherwise interesting novel.