Le Crapaud (The Toad), 1949

by Pablo Picasso

P.O.A.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 19.6 x 25.7 in. / 49.8 x 65.3 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Picasso’ and editioned ‘9/50’ (lower right); dated in the plate (lower left)
MEDIUM: Lithograph

This print oozes the character and essence of Pablo Picasso’s work, and serves as a wonderful example of the artist’s adept hand, and mastery of various mediums.

At around this moment in his career, Picasso had begun to focus on sculpture as his creative outlet. This feels particularly relevant to this work, as when learning to print on stone Picasso was reprimanded by his peers for carving directly into the stone, creating reliefs rather than simply laying ink onto the stones’ surfaces. Other famous prints by Picasso include his satirical Franco series – largely considered his first overtly political works.

Also in this year, Picasso participated in an international exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Provenance

Private collection, United Kingdom

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Biography

Pablo Picasso is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and co-founder of the art movement Cubism, renowned for continually experimenting with new styles and in different mediums. Born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881, he was the son of an artist, under whom he trained before studying at the art academy in Barcelona. He then moved to study at Madrid’s Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Spain’s top art academy at the time, in 1897, beginning his artistic career. His early work comprised of mainly scenes inspired by his Catholic faith and portraits of his family members, in a traditional realist style, adhering with his training. By 1901 Picasso had abandoned this method to develop his own individual style which was later called the Blue Period.

 

During this time he primarily painted in shades of blue, with occasional touches of accent colour. The works are often perceived as sombre due to the subdued tones and scenes of blindness, poverty and isolation. Some attribute this period to the artist’s supposed depression following a friend’s suicide. In 1904 Picasso settled in Paris where he lived for most of his adult life. Here his painting progressed to the ‘Rose Period’, using shades of pink and rose with a warmer tonal range, also incorporating elements of primitivism, after taking inspiration from an exhibit of angular African art at the Palais de Trocadero.

Between 1907 and 1912, Picasso worked with fellow painter Georges Braque in creating the beginnings of the Cubist movement in art. They used a palette of earth tones and depicted deconstructed objects with complex geometric forms. His partner, Fernande Olivier, was the subject in many of Picasso’s Cubist works, before they seperated in 1912. From 1912 to 1919, Picasso’s work continued in the Cubist vein, but he introduced collage and the human form into some of his creations. The destructive and creative ideas of Cubism shocked, appalled but also fascinated the art world.

Between 1919 and 1929 Picasso’s art featured a significant change in style. After his first visit to Italy and the end of the First World War, his paintings reflected a restoration of order in art and his neoclassical works contrasted starkly to his Cubist paintings. However, as the French Surrealist Movement gained momentum in the mid-1920s, Picasso returned to his penchant for Primitivism in Surrealist-influenced paintings. During the 1930s, Picasso’s work reflected the violence of war time, the menacing Minotaur replaced the harlequin of his earlier years as a central symbol in his art.

 

Picasso remained in Paris during World War II and continued to create art. He completed more than 300 poetry works and two plays between 1939 and 1959. Paris was liberated in 1944, and Picasso began a relationship with Francoise Gilot, they had two children together, however, their relationship ended in a similar way to him many previous ones, because of his infidelities and abuse. He focused on sculpture during this era and participated in an international exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1949.

 

Towards the end of Picasso’s life, the many artworks he produced reflected a mixture of his previous styles, including colourful paintings and copper etchings. In his final seventeen years he produced over seventy portraits of his wife Jacqueline, as well as moving towards painting landscape views, which he had previously depicted sporadically or as a backdrop to figurative works. His private life is often viewed as a useful guide to the meaning of his work, as he himself believed his art was akin to a diary, there are a few obvious links between his art and the events of his life. Although his later work cannot be categorised by his particular styles, the mixture of different elements from these past stages, resulted in him producing an eclectic collection of paintings.

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