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Pablo Picasso

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Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, 1881-1973.  Spanish painter and sculptor.  Vintage heliogravure, signed Picasso.

This excellent heliogravure is reproduced from one of the 180 drawings known as La Comédie Humaine, or The Human Comedy, that Picasso did during his stay at Vallauris between November 28, 1953, and February 3, 1954.  It depicts an artist painting a nude female model.

In 1953, Picasso's personal life was in crisis.  His common-law wife Françoise Gilot left him in September, a few weeks short of Picasso's 72nd birthday, taking with her their 6-year-old son, Claude, and their 4-year-old daughter, Paloma. In December, Picassos mistress Geneviève Laporte also broke off her relationship with him.  All of this led Picasso to consider the prospects for the remainder of his life.  The overall character of his art this time, marked by anxieties about ageing and fears of solitude, obsolescence, and death,  reflected the effect of this crisis.

Without a woman in his life, Picasso paid a model to pose for him. He painted and drew forty portraits of Sylvette David over the course of a single month.  This interlude inaugurated a change in the way he worked from that point on:  Between 1953 and 1972, he often produced long sequences of variations on a theme rather than unique, isolated images.

This 10¼" x 13⅞" black-and-white heliogravure, entitled Peintre et modèle,” or Painter and model," was published in the Suite de 180 Dessins de Picasso, a double issue of Verve magazine in one volume that was published in Paris in September 1954.  The issue was devoted entirely to Picasso and his Vallauris work. 

In the accompanying essay, the writer Michel Leiris described the tension dramatized in all of Picassos painter and his model works:  Painter and model, man and womanin the field of art as in that of love, there is always a duel going on between the subject and the object, adversaries forever facing each other and separated by a gap that no one, however great his genius, can hope to bridge.  He also noted that Picasso's drawings “are at once entirely chaste and extremely erotic.  It is as necessary that the model should be painted as that she should be loved.  Art is as much a vital function as sex."

These are works about the act of painting. They are Picassos allegories about his own creativity.  He was fascinated by the link between artistic motivation and sexual desire. He was no less fascinated by the link between artistic disinterestedness and the sublimation or loss of sexual desire.  His images show that it is necessary for a painter to be disinterested so that he can analyze the appearance of the model and therefore represent her image.  While disinterestedness is also essential to an aesthetic way of seeing, it can also lead a painter to become indifferent and even blind to the attractiveness and sexual promise of the model.  Picasso tackled this theme with a great deal of ironic gusto. This theme of the painter and his model preoccupied Picassos late years. In February 1963, some ten years after he accomplished this series, Picasso began an extensive series of paintings based on the same theme. 

The Verve heliogravures were printed by the master printer Draeger Frères. 

This particular piece has not appeared on the market for more than 20 years.  It was previously sold by the National Art Guild, whose certificate of authenticity accompanies it.

Picasso has signed this piece in pencil, which was typical, in the lower right corner.  The print is simply matted in white to an overall size of 15¼" x 18¾" and is ready for framing.  We have not examined the print outside of the matting, but it appears to be in very fine to extra fine condition.



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