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Daix, Pierre

    Image Credit: The Darkroom Rumour

    Full Name: Daix, Pierre

    Other Names:

    • Pierre Georges Daix

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1922

    Place Born: Ivry-sur-Seine, Île-de-France, France

    Home Country/ies: France

    Subject Area(s): Abstract Expressionist, Cubist, Expressionist (style), and Post-Impressionist


    Picasso scholar, compiler of catalogue raisonné, and writer. Daix was the son of Martial Daix, a city civil servant, and Germaine Derbré (Daix). He attended the Lycée Henri IV in Paris, and then universities in Rennes and Paris, receiving a B. A. Daix joined the communist party in France and served in the French Resistance during World War II, and was decorated with the Commandeur de la Légion d´honneur, the Croix de guerre 1939-1945, and Médaille de la Résistance. Daix first met Picasso, a fellow member of the French Communist Party, in 1945. After the war he worked the Armaments Ministry of the second government of Charles de Gaulle, 1945-1947, under his communist colleague Charles Tillon (1897-1993). He was appointed editor of Lettres Françaises, the journal founded during the occupation, in 1948 which he held until 1972. Daix’s stalwart belief in Communism caused him to attack David Rousset (1912-1997), a survivor of Buchenwald who was now crusading against Stahlin’s Gulg camps, in the pages of the Lettres françaises in 1949. Rousset sued and won a judgment against Daix in 1951.Daix was Deputy Director of the journal Ce Soir between 1950 and 1953. During these year Daix published several novels. His friendship with Picasso blossomed. The artist gave him access to his personal collection of his art housed after 1961 at Picasso’s villa, Notre-Dame-de-Vie at Mougins. Daix’s first book on Picasso, 1964, fascinated the artist and Picasso began commenting on his works to Daix regularly.Now approaching the last period of his life, Picasso confided numerous biographical fact to Daix, identifying models, lovers and events in the painter’s life. Daix began compiling a catalogue raisonné of the early works of Picasso, published in 1966 together with Georges Boudaille. Daix contributed the years 1900, 1901, and 1906 to the catalogue. Daix was married a second time in 1967 to Françoise London. The same year, Daix published an article in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts which changed Picasso scholarship. Picasso had admitted to Daix that the major painting of the Blue Period, “La Vie,” (1904) contained the portrait of Picasso’s s friend, Casagemas. Daix’s article set off a spate of scholarship assessing the artist’s work as biography. Other non-art writing followed. After Picasso’s death in 1973, Daix issued an autobiography, J’ai cru au matin in 1976. Daix began a chronology of Picasso’s work when the artist’s notebooks were made available to him in 1977 for La vie de peintre de Pablo Picasso. His a catalogue raisonné of Picasso’s subsequent early years, Picasso, the Cubist Years, 1907-1916, appeared in 1979. He was adviser to the editor of the Quotidien de Paris from 1980 (to 1985). Daix concentrated on art publishing, issuing le Journal du cubisme, 1982, la Vie du peintre Edouard Manet, 1983, Picasso créateur. La vie intime et l’oeuvre, 1987. Diax became friends with the French historian Ferdinand Braudel, whom he subsequently wrote a monograph on. He participated in the 1988 “Demoiselles d’Avingon” exhibition at the Musee Picasso and the Picasso Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. His Picasso, trente ans après, 2003, won the prix Georges-Pompidou the same year. Another Picasso book was published in 2007. Daix’s scholarship on Picasso was essentially biography-as-art-history. Because of his closeness to Picasso, he was able to add to the knowledge of the artist’s work through ways that documents alone could not. Not until John Richardson thirty years later published his biographies of Picasso, also from first-hand knowledge, had such rich store of information been published. Daix’s account of Picasso’s blue period remains revisionist and critics found his later biographies overly anecdotal. Methodologically, Daix employed structuralist analysis of Claude Levi-Strauss, whom he acknowleged in the preface to his catalogues raisonnés. He did not incorporate post-Structuralist sensibilities, such as Ferdinand Saussure (Krauss).

    Selected Bibliography

    [collected essays:] Nouvelle critique et art moderne, essai. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1968; “La Periode Bleue de Picasso et le suicide de Carlos Casagemas.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 69 (April 1967): 239-246; and Boudaille, Georges, and Rosselet, Joan. Picasso 1900-1906, catalogue raisonné de l’ouvre peinture. Neuchâtel/Paris: la Bibliothèque des arts, 1966, English, Picasso: the Blue and Rose Periods: a Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, 1900-1906. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society 1967; La vie de peintre de Pablo Picasso. Paris: Seuil, 1977; and Rosselet, Joan. Le cubisme de Picasso: catalogue raisonné de l’ouvre peint 1907-1916. Neuchâtel: Ides et Calendes, 1979, English, Picasso, the Cubist years, 1907-1916: a catalogue raisonné of the paintings and related works. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1979; Journal du cubisme. Geneva: A. Skira, 1982, English, Cubists and Cubism. New York: Rizzoli, 1982; Picasso créateur. La vie intime et l’oeuvre, 1987, English, revised, Picasso. Life and Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 1993; Dictionnaire Picasso. Paris: R. Laffont, 1995; Braudel. Paris: Flammarion, 1995.


    Rousset, David. Le procès concentrationnaire pour la vérité sur les camps: extraits des débats. Déclarations de David Rousset, plaidoirie de Théo Bernard, plaidoirie de Gérard Rosenthal. Paris: Éditions du Pavois, 1951; “Acknowledgements” and “Introduction.” Daix, Pierre. Picasso: Life and Art. New York: Icon Editions, 1993, pp. vii-xiii; Krauss, Rosalind “In the Name of Picasso.” October 16, no. 102 (Spring, 1981): 11, 14; Who’s Who in France (online); Daix, Pierre. Tout mon temps (mémoires, 2001).


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Daix, Pierre." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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