National Press Club

Club member writes first novel about Picasso’s Blue Period

August 22, 2019 | By Naomi Weiss |

Luke Jerod Kummer’s curiosity for what makes a good story led to his discovering a vital part of Pablo Picasso’s life that dramatically influenced the artist’s work but was barely explored elsewhere, the author of "The Blue Period" told a National Press Club Book Rap on Tuesday, Aug. 20, in Cosgrove Lounge.

Picasso blamed himself for the death of sister and his friend Carles Casagemas, Kummer said. This resulted in “a radical flow of empathy” which influenced the artist’s vision of humanity and the suffering of people who lived in his hometown of Malaga, Spain, and in Montmartre, France, where he went to paint.

Kummer, a Club member, took the discovery of Picasso’s influence and imagined Picasso’s life during his Blue Period, 1900-1904, to write his debut novel, "The Blue Period."

Picasso’s works during his Blue Period exquisitely captured his subjects’ emotions, body language and suffering through the artist’s use of blue, black, dark greens and brown palates. Although the paintings are today among the most popular works by the artist, he had trouble selling them at the time. A slide show of these paintings was projected during the Book Rap.

Kummer said he was influenced by reading Patty Smith’s "Just Kids" about her relationship with photographer Robert Maplethorpe.

Kummer is a reporter, editor and travel writer whose nonfiction work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, New York Magazine, New Republic and Village Voice. He was introduced by Joe Luchok, who moderated the event.