A new sale, The World of Picasso: Including Works from the Collection of Marina Picasso, will be held online from 8-18 June. Including paintings, drawings, ceramics, editions, photographs and even palettes, it is a rich celebration of the life and work of this exceptional artist. Anchoring the sale are 63 unique works from the collection of Marina Picasso, Pablo Picasso’s granddaughter. Works that remained with Picasso throughout his life and passed down to Marina in 1973 are making their debut at auction.
This special sale aptly aligns with the recent blockbuster exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. The success of the RA’s Picasso and Paper retrospective was testament to the free-spirited, widely unusual display of works and this intriguing diversity is reflected in The World of Picasso. While the works from the Marina Picasso Collection illuminate Picasso’s array of imaginative expression, natural draughtsmanship and engagement with ceramics, the group also encapsulates his continuous drive to create art throughout his life. Capable of extremely quick work (on some occasions producing as many as three paintings in a day), Picasso was constantly filling sketchbooks. Moreover, he hoarded almost everything and it is the survival of his countless preparatory studies and assortment of paper items that have provided such a detailed account of his life and oeuvre.
The works from the Marina Picasso Collection shed light on the fact that Picasso was first and foremost a draughtsman. Amongst the group we discover works on paper that capture the particular atmosphere of a certain place. There is an intimate drawing of an open window in Saint-Raphael where he spent the summer of 1919 with his first wife Olga. There is a brush and ink seascape of Cannes from 1957, depicting boats and punters under a burning sun, imparting his love for the serenity of the seaside.
Paper was, for Picasso, a tool to explore his innovative ideas, a material of endless possibility. Picasso claimed that he could draw before he could speak. As a child, he showed this precocious artistic ability and was admitted to art school at just 13 years old. Later in life, when Picasso visited an exhibition of children’s drawings, he perceptively stated the irony that "When I was their age I could draw like Raphael, but it has taken a lifetime to learn to draw like them." The World of Picasso gives an intimate insight into Picasso’s child-like freedom and flair for experimentation, revealing how his only guide was intuition. There are 6 works on paper from his Cubist period, studies of faces and figures and even a drawing of Yuri Gagarin (1961), celebrating the first human journey into space.
Femme et centaures aux oiseau is a particularly endearing work on paper. In 1939, at the outbreak of the war, Picasso went to the small town of Antibes, which captured his imagination. At the end of the conflict, rejuvenated by a new love affair with Françoise Gilot, he returned to the French Riviera. Having completed his dark tragedy of Guernica in 1937, 1946 witnessed the creation of La Joie de Vivre. Pipe-playing fauns and dancing creatures feature in front of a vibrant sea in a painting read as a celebration of peace. The whimsical Femme et centaures aux oiseau, also executed in 1946, with its rhythmic lyricism achieved by the curvaceous lines, was likely drawn as a preparatory study for his masterpiece painting.
The collection also includes several ceramics, highlighting Picasso’s playful engagement with different mediums. Made at the Madoura pottery in Vallauris, Picasso unleashed his childlike experimentation. Using various objects, from plates to tiles, it is as if the artist has doodled his cheeky imagination onto the surfaces.
The upcoming sale showcases Picasso’s extraordinary desire to make art consistently throughout his long career. It was this abundance of work, coupled with extraordinary instinct and talent, that has ensured his status as a universal icon. The works from Marina Picasso, in particular, exude his unwavering energy. Furthermore, they reflect the artist’s remarkable ability to strike a balance between his mature, innate skill and the unselfconsciousness and originality of a child.