Influenced by the popular illustrated magazines widely available in 19th Century Spain, Picasso as a young boy began keeping an illustrated journal with his daily observations titled Azul y Blanco or La Coruña. Picasso’s first official foray into publishing came in 1901, when he joined forces with the journalist Francisco de Asís Soler in Madrid to commence publication of the journal Arte Joven. According to María Teresa Ocaña, “Arte Joven constitutes a milestone in the career of the young artist who was struggling to establish himself on the Spanish art scene. Far from the burlesque satire of Azul y Blanco and La Coruña, Arte Joven formed part of a group of new art magazines that aimed to transform conventional artistic activity. Picasso’s acquaintance with the Catalan Francisco de Asís Soler, who had worked on the magazine Luz, and who was the Madrid representative for a curative electrical belt (an invention of his father’s) made Picasso think of assembling the most advanced and radical literary and artistic figures in Madrid to create a magazine that would equal Barcelona’s Pèl y Ploma. Picasso saw the possibility of linking up, through Arte Joven, with those young writers and artists whose Anarchism, Nihilism, and even Symbolism - even though he condemned the latter - would define the Generation of ’98. The desire to transform the social and cultural provincialism of late-nineteenth century Spain was what united Picasso with these writers and artists in Madrid” (“From the Irony of Azul y Blanco to the Sarcasm of Arte Joven”, in Picasso: From Caricature to Metamorphosis of Style (exhibition catalogue), 2003, pp. 25-26).
The inaugural issue of Arte Joven appeared in March 1901. Dated Mayo 1901 on the verso and squared, the present work therefore appears to have been a preliminary cover sketch for the third issue of Arte Joven. The drawing depicts a rakish man courting a woman, in the presence perhaps of his friends and a dog that lurk nearby. The man depicted has a striking similarity to Picasso's Catalan friend, Antoni Torres Fuster, who was living in Paris at the time (see: J. Richardson, A Life of Picasso, London, 1991, vol. 1, p. 195). Ultimately, Picasso and Soler chose a different cover for their magazine. Sadly, the journal did not have the financial fortitude to continue. Coupled with entreaties by his dealer Mañach and the one-man exhibition at the gallery of Ambroise Vollard, Picasso soon departed for Paris.
Fig. 1, The verso of the present work
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