Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso
19 records
(Spain, 1881-1973, active France)

Among the twenty works by Picasso are seventeen portraits, many of them women with whom he shared his life.

Head of a Woman (1906) is a late Rose-period painting from the autumn of 1906 that reflects the powerful influence of Iberian sculpture. This mask-like portrait, which may represent his companion Fernande, is characterized by a haunting face framed by arched eyebrows, exaggerated eyelids, and oversize ears. Head of a Woman is from the same period when Picasso was completing his Portrait of Gertrude Stein.

The Picasso group includes three portraits of Dora Maar with whom Picasso lived for a decade beginning in the mid 1930s: Bust of a Seated Woman (1938), Head of a Woman with a Hat (1939), and Bust of a Woman (1941). His portraits of her are among his most searing: she is alternately depicted as the weeping woman, the harpy, the woman with basketwork hat: a disfigured and monstrous subject that inspired some of his most haunting works.

At the end of 1954 Picasso began a series of fifteen paintings based on Delacroix’s Women of Algiers. Completed in February 1955, this series, known by the same name, reveals his fascination with the harems of North Africa and their milieu of sexual abandon. The collection includes the fourth in the series depicting women in repose.

Picasso’s depictions of his second wife, Jacqueline, constitute his largest group of portraits, and they dominate his oeuvre during his last two decades. Among the works in the collection is the colossal Head of a Woman (1961–1962), over three feet tall and almost as wide, a daring canvas which attains its looming monumentality through the combination of absolute scale and the frame’s abrupt cropping. This was the first of a group of four portraits of Jacqueline done between December 18 and December 21, 1961. In 1969, at the age of eighty-eight, Picasso painted the large, bold canvas Man and Woman, a colorful and powerful celebration of sexuality. The last Picasso in the collection is a monochromatic large portrait of Jacqueline, Head of a Woman in Profile (1970) which retains a boldness that belies the artist’s advanced age. Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator, Modern Art, 2007

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