193
193
Pablo Picasso
TÊTE D'HOMME III
Estimate
1,800,0002,500,000
JUMP TO LOT
193
Pablo Picasso
TÊTE D'HOMME III
Estimate
1,800,0002,500,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

|
New York

Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
TÊTE D'HOMME III
Signed Picasso (toward lower right); dated 23.6.65. III (on the reverse)
Oil on canvas
18 1/4 by 15 in.
46.4 by 38 cm
Painted on June 23, 1965.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Private Collection, France (and sold: Sotheby's, London, July 1, 1998, lot 175)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Literature

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1965 à 1967, vol. XXV, Paris, 1972, no. 165, illustrated pl. 89
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Sixties II, 1964-1967, San Francisco, 1997, no. 65-173, illustrated p. 219

Catalogue Note

The present canvas belongs to a series of portraits of men that Picasso first began in 1964. Between October 10-24, 1964, Picasso painted twenty-nine variations on this theme, giving the model changed hairstyles and freely altering his facial features. In 1965, Picasso revisited this theme and created the present work, Tête d’homme III. His practice was raw, elliptical and spontaneous. This urgent manner of painting, paired with simplified signs to convey the human figure, reduces beings to their primal essence. By focusing on the face, Picasso brings light to the artist's features through the use of schematic signs: flat patches of color and sharp lines, with the shape of the head indicated by the edges of the background.

Tête d’homme III is a vivid example of Picasso’s late paintings of the male subject. As Marie-Laure Bernadac writes, “The most striking feature of the late period is undoubtedly its vitality… Accumulation and speed were the only defenses he [Picasso] had left in his fight to the death with time. Every work he created was a part of himself, a particle of life, a point scored against death. ‘I have less and less time’, he said, ‘and I have more and more to say.’ What allowed him to gain time, to go faster, was his recourse to conventional signs, formal abbreviations, the archetypal figure that concentrates the essence of what he has to say” (Marie-Laure Bernadac in Late Picasso (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1988, pp. 84-85). Here, Bernadac alludes to and reflects on Picasso’s use of tribal masks and their ability to disguise oneself—a theme prevalent in Picasso’s male portraits during this period. Furthermore, Tête d’homme III was conceived among the full panoply of musketeers, matadors and painters all of whom embody a sense of power and masculinity through their costumes and demeanor. The reduced palette, compromised essentially of blue, black, green and pink, creates a minimalist and expressive representation. More than simply a medium, the pigment becomes a productive matter that illuminates the painting with a unique aura. The canvas becomes a fusion of form and color, a quest for: “drawing and colour [to] become the same thing” (Hélène Parmelin, Picasso dit…, Paris, 1966, p. 85). The artist mixes bold primary colors and rich blacks and grays, painting with both broad, sweeping brushstrokes and energetic staccato effects to create a work of startling intensity and energy: “only a few lines, pink, green... that’s all you need isn’t it? What else do I need to do? What can I add to that? Everything has been said” (Picasso quoted in Hélène Parmelin, ibid., pp. 18-19).

Tête d’homme III furthermore illustrates Picasso's conception of the self portrait as metaphor rather than the description.  It is a portrait of art-making rather than just simply a portrait of the artist. More so, the face is undoubtedly reminiscent of Picasso’s own appearance, with the round head, large eyes and bushy eyebrows. By dividing the face into several distinct parts with broad strokes of color, the canvas echoes the facial distortions of Francis Bacon and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The result is a strikingly expressive portrait of astounding modernity. It is a testament to the skill of an artist, who, even as he approached his death, was still able to revolutionize conceptions of art. 

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

|
New York