Impressionist & Modern Art

Pablo Picasso's Flair in Mixed Media from Ceramics to Collage

By Sotheby's

P ablo Picasso’s celebrated oeuvre can be characterised as much by its breadth as it can by its magnificent quality. At the avant-garde of European Modernism for over sixty years, Picasso embraced and promoted seismic changes such as Cubism, Expressionism and Surrealism, seamlessly working through manifold original ideas with renewed intensity. The selection of works which will be offered in the online sale Souvenirs de Vacances: Unique Works from the Collection of Marina Picasso, is an exceptional insight into his practice of continual evolution and touches upon each of the movements which he championed.

A fine example of Picasso’s restive and prodigious evolution is evinced in the 1907 work, Arbres. Produced in pencil and coloured crayon at the very beginnings of Cubism, the work retains elements of his earlier figurative work, with strong sweeping lines, whilst confidently deconstructing the pictorial space, marking the defining characteristics of this truly revolutionary movement. Similarly, the portrait, Moustachu, 1915, demonstrates Picasso’s move away from Cubism and his return to more conventional figurative representation. Despite the ostensibly traditional depiction, the work is significant as it retains some of the visual hyperbole found in both Cubism and Surrealism whilst still exhibiting Picasso’s extraordinary dexterity. With his uncomfortable pose and disproportionate frame the sitter speaks to both Picasso’s shrewd humour and his desire for constant experimentation.

Clockwise from top: Pablo Picasso, Joutes Lyonnaises, Saint-Tropez, 1957; Pablo Picasso, Grand Oiseau, circa 1957; Pablo Picasso, Oiseau © SUCCESSION PICASSO/DACS 2020

The desire to perpetually reinvent and challenge himself is also evidenced in Picasso's ambitions to master a variety of media, including ceramics. His first forays into ceramics came relatively late in his career, beginning in 1947, and then came to represent a large body of his subsequent output. A fine example of his intuitive mastery of ceramic is the 1957 ceramic, Grand Oiseau. With the clear and characteristic outline of the bird demonstrating Picasso’s natural flair for the representation of form, working in three dimensions enabled him to generate a deeper texture than in his conventional drawings and paintings, the deep finger prints in evidence here show the joy in tactility which Picasso felt. Similarly, the glazed ceramic plate, Tauromachie, beautifully mirrors some of the celebrated graphic work which Picasso produced during this period. Importantly, it anticipates his celebrated illustrated series of aquatints from 1959, La Tauromaquia, demonstrating the panoramic scope of Picasso’s imagination.


One further significant vein of Picasso’s output was the pioneering use of collage. Although he was to use this method throughout his career he was in fact one of the first artists to incorporate it fully into his artistic output, as a standalone composition. It is therefore hugely exciting that the collection contains such a beautiful example of this practice in Pipe decoupée, from 1914. Charming in its simplicity, and an immediately recognisable product of the artist’s irreverent wit, it is a fine example of Picasso’s ceaseless creativity.

Souvenirs de Vacances: Unique Works from the Collection of Marina Picasso is an exceptional group of works which Sotheby’s is hugely proud to be offering for sale. Demonstrating huge range in subject matter, media, style and vision, this collection provides a remarkable opportunity to acquire rarely-seen examples from across Picasso’s prodigious output.

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