Fleurs, 1948

by Pablo Picasso

P.O.A.

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DIMENSIONS: (unframed)25.75 x 19.88 in./65.5 x 50.5 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed and dated lower left
MEDIUM: Pencil on paper

Catalogue No: 5385 Categories: ,

In 1946, Picasso painted the quintessential portrait of his then lover, Françoise Gilot, in Femme fleur en gris. The artist told Françoise, when speaking of the work, “You’re growing like a plant… I’ve never felt compelled to portray anyone else this way” (F. Gilot, Life with Picasso,New York, 1964, p. 113).
Executed just two years later, Fleurs belongs to a series of drawings and paintings by Picasso that explored the idea of distilling the human figure into its basic elements to capture the essence of the individual depicted. The engaging, anthropomorphic still life in Fleurs seems to suggest a portrait of Picasso and Gilot, with the silhouette of the male and female plants facing each other in a conversant posture. The fluid decorative line of the drawing, reduced means and simplified composition also suggest Picasso’s continuing dialogue with the artist Henri Matisse. During these post-war years, the artists lived near each other in the South of France and were intensely aware of each other’s artistic investigations and innovations.

Provenance

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris;
Private collection, Spain (acquired from the above);
Sale: Sotheby’s London, June 26, 2008, lot 199;
Private collection, London (acquired at the above sale);

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Exhibited

C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1946 à 1953, vol. XV, Paris, 1965, no. 83, pl. 50 (illustrated);
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. Liberation and Post-War Years, 1944-1949, San Francisco, 2000, p. 199, no. 48-017 (illustrated)

Biography

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain. His father was a painter and a
Professor of art at the School of Crafts and the Curator of a local museum. Picasso
learnt the basics of art from his father and them went on to attend the Academy of
Arts in Madrid, but dropped out within a year of attending it. He made his first trip to
Paris in 1900 where he lived with a friend Max Jacob who was a journalist and poet.
Jacob worked in the day and slept at night while Picasso slept during the day and
worked through the night. It was a hard time for the artist and many of his paintings
were burned to keep himself warm.

During 1901, Picasso started a magazine called ‘Arte Joven’ in Madrid with his friend Soler. He completely illustrated the first edition of the magazine and it was at this point that he began to sign his paintings as simply ‘Picasso’ rather than ‘Pablo Ruiz y Picasso’. While in Paris, the artist had a love of entertaining and had among his friends, Andre Breton and Gertrude Stein. He also had an active love life and usually had several mistresses along with a wife or a primary partner.
All works by Picasso are classified into various ‘periods’ based on the moods and styles of paintings. These were largely affected by his personal life. His career as a painter is said to have begun around 1894. In 1897 his realistic style of painting became influenced by Symbolism and came across in a series of landscapes in which he used violet and green tones in the colours. From 1899 to 1900 was a period where Picasso was creating paintings in a Modernist style which emerged due to his influence and exposure to the works of Rossetti, Edward Munch etc.
1901 to 1904 is called Picasso’s Blue Period because many of his paintings in that time were in the shades of blue and blue-green. The subjects of these paintings were prostitutes and beggars. It was also during this time, that he began using the image of the harlequin, in checkered clothing, as his personal motif in his paintings. 1905 to 1907 is called Picasso’s Rose Period where his paintings became cheerful with the use of orange and pink colours. There were also many harlequins featured. 1907 to 1909 is called his African Influenced Period where his drawings were inspired by African artefacts. 1909 to 1912 is called Picasso’s Analytic Cubism Period. This style of painting was developed along with Georges Braque and was characterized by the use of monochrome, brown colours.
1912 to 1919 is called Picasso’s Synthetic Cubism Period where he began to use collage in his art. He would add paper fragments of wallpaper or newspaper pages and paste them into his work. During the 1930s he returned to a more neo-classical style of painting. Another major change was the use of the Minotaur as his motif, rather than the harlequin in his paintings. In the 1950s he started reinterpreting the works of great masters, including Goya, Manet and Delacroix. In 1967, the ‘Chicago Picasso’ was unveiled. A huge fifty foot sculpture made on abstract themes, defies interpretation. Picasso did not take the $100,000 payment offered for it, but donated it all to the people of the city. From 1968 to 1971 he produced several paintings and copperplate etchings in the style now known as Neo-Expressionism. Pablo Picasso died on the 8th of April, 1973 while he and his wife Jacqueline were entertaining friends for dinner.