Brassaï: Picasso, do you know what the earth preserves best? Greco-Roman coins.
Picasso: It's insane how many Roman coins are being found! It's as if all Romans had holes in their pockets. They sowed coins wherever they went. Even in the fields. Maybe to grow money . . .
Brassaï: With excavations, I always have the impression they're breaking a mold to take out a sculpture. In Pompeii, it was Vesuvius that did the casting. Houses, men, animals were instantly caught in that boiling gangue. There is something deeply moving about those convulsed bodies, captured at the moment of death. I saw them in their glass cages in Pompeii and Naples.
Picasso: Dali was really obsessed with the idea of such monstrous castings, of that instantaneous end to all life by a cataclysm. He talked to me about a casting of the place de l'Opéra, with the opera building, the Café de la Paix, the high-class chicks, the cars, the passersby, the cops, the newspaper kiosks, the girls selling flowers, the streetlights, the clock still marking the time. Imagine it in plaster or bronze, life-size. What a nightmare! If I could do that, I'd choose Saint-Germain-des-Prés, with the Café de Flore, the Brasserie Lipp, the Deux-Magots, Jean-Paul Sartre, the waiters Jean and Pascal, M. Boubal, the cat, and the blonde cashier. What a marvelous, monstrous casting that would make.


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