Fifty drawings by Pablo Picasso from the private collection of his grand-daughter Marina Picasso is to go on display at Sotheby’s in Paris. This important collection (enriched with a handful of ceramics), will be exhibited from 28th March-1st April during the Salon International du Dessin in Paris and will focus the theme of The Nude in Picasso’s work. Starting with his erotically tinged Indian ink sketches of prostitutes from his Barcelona period, and continuing down to his remarkable Artist & Model series, the Nude remained a subject of constant desire and fascination for Picasso, one which he explored in a variety of styles and media.
It was the theme of the Nude which, in 1906/07, prompted Picasso to engage in the visual experimentation that would ultimately lead to Cubism. This can be seen in the numerous preparatory studies for his legendary work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Several of these are featured in the exhibition, among them Woman’s Body – Front View (1908), where Picasso uses hatching to create the outlines of a faceless female body reduced to an angular, sculptural structure. The process of deconstruction is clear to see.
Later drawings include an enchanting 1920 charcoal and red chalk Standing Nude in Profile. The Nude here is idealized and stylized: a perfect illustration of Picasso’s return to Classicism in the 1920s, in line with the teachings of Ancient Greece, and revealing another facet of his oeuvre.
Picasso was also inspired throughout his life by the muses around him, with the Nude a pretext to exalt the women he adored. In
his 1932 Femme Nue
Couchée (left) the body of Marie-Thérèse is recreated by a series of voluptuous
arabesques. His 1946 Standing Nude – Facing and In Profile (right) portrays Françoise Gilot, with Picasso emphasizing her flowing hair, elongated neck, rounded breasts and slim waist as he sketches the celebrated figure of the Femme-Fleur (flower-woman): the quintessence of Françoise’s portrait.
Picasso’s taste for eroticism – especially his exaggeration of female attributes – can also be found in his Standing Woman ceramic figurines, and in this sensual scene created from charming ceramic tiles, a time-honoured craft that Picasso took up with gusto in the 1940s. The great strength of this exhibition lies in the portrayals of the Nude in various media. A superb Etreinte
(Minotaur Embracing a Woman) from 1933 shows the bodies of the woman and the Minotaur entwined and becoming one – echoing many of his Indian ink sketches of prostitutes from his Barcelona period.
Finally, the exhibition pays sumptuous homage to one of Picasso’s favourite themes, echoing through his career like a leitmotif: the artist and his model. Marie- Laure Bernadac, Curator of the Picasso Museum in Paris, notes that ‘in 1963/4 he painted virtually nothing else’ – filling albums with sketch after sketch on this theme, as Picasso reinterpreted the mythical subject of The Artist as Creator
ad infinitum, fully expressing his eternal fascination with the female nude. Two sketches from the series will be on show: his Sculpteur et son Modèle from 1931, and Le Peintre et son Modèle from 1955 (above left).
Friday 28 March 10am – 6pm Saturday 29 March 10am – 6pm Monday 31 March 10am – 6pm Tuesday 1 April 10am – 6pm not Sunday 30 March
Sotheby’s 76 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris