The title page from the a 1964 French edition of Desire Caught by The Tail, signed by Picasso

Picasso's play comes to the Guggenheim

A production of Desire Caught By The Tail will be staged to coincide with the Picasso Black and White exhibition.


We think of him as perhaps the greatest visual artist of the 20th century, yet in the winter of 1941, Pablo Picasso had put down his brushes try his hand as a playwright. He wrote a six-act play, Desire Caught By The Tail, in German-occupied Paris during a bout of illness, in January 1941. Albert Camus directed Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Satre in the play's first performance, at the Parisian home of writer Michel Leiris in 1944. Since then, Desire Caught By The Tail has been revived on a number of occasions, most notably in a 1984 production, with David Hockney and Louise Bourgeois in the cast. The '84 production was staged at the Guggenheim, and it's at that very same New York gallery that Picasso's play will be staged in once more, on Oct 14 and 15, to coincide with the museum's monochromatic retrospective, Picasso Black and White. The artist's granddaughter, Diana Picasso, will play a part.

Alas, the show is sold out. However, ticketless enthusiasts shouldn't be overly despondent. The work is fairly challenging. As The Guardian reports, the play's "second act consists of five pairs of feet outside the doors of hotel rooms, saying 'My chilblains. My chilblains. My chilblains.' This is then followed by a stage direction that calls for 'the dancing shadows of five monkeys eating carrots'."

Much better to console yourself with one of our wonderful Picasso books, which offer a definitive overview of the great man.