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Good AND prolific?

Yesterday I went to see the Picasso exhibition at Tate Modern. It was wonderful but exhausting. By the end I felt I just couldn’t look at any more pictures.

And yet, with the exception of one room, Picasso had produced all these pictures in a single year, his annus mirabilis of 1932. And he prepared a major retrospective in the same year as well.

All this was not unconnected with the fact that he was newly in love, with Marie-Therese Walter. That definitely put a spring in his step, but it also meant that he was deceiving his wife, which most normal people would find exhausting. But then Picasso was not a normal person.

He was a genius of course, but he was also possessed not only of enormous energy but of single-mindedness. Are there any architects out there with equivalent get up and go?

In last Sunday’s Observer, Rowan Moore wrote about the fact that this year is the 40th anniversary of the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich, and that it will be hosting an exhibition of Hi-Tech architecture. Whatever happened to its architect? He was, of course, one Norman Foster and now, at 82, still seems to be at the height of his powers. Moore mentions, almost in passing, that Foster is currently in training for his 25th Engadin cross-country skiing marathon.

Could he be architecture’s Picasso? Perhaps, but with one difference. In 1932 Picasso was revelling in being driven around by a chauffeur in a Hispano Suiza. Foster would be driving – or better still, piloting – himself.

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