Oil on paper
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Saidenberg Gallery, New York
Davlyn Gallery, New York
Private Collection, United States (acquired from the above and sold: Christie's, London, December 10, 1998, lot 541)
Bogota, Galeria Quintana
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Picasso. 1881-1981. A Centennial Selection, 1981, no. 111
Vienna, Ausstellung Picasso, Picasso in Wien, 1981, no. 77
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, oeuvres de 1969, vol. 31, Paris, 1976, no. 317, illustrated pl. 95
The Picasso Project, Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Sixties III, 1968-1969, San Francisco, 2003, no. 69-321, illustrated p. 203
Towards the end of his life, Picasso rebelled against time by immersing himself in his art. The period bore witness to an incredible output of work, executed with remarkable vigor and boldness. Musketeers, acrobats, Pierrots, painters, and heads of smokers continued to populate his compositions. However, when considered in the context of looming mortality, these subjects took on new meanings. Marie-Laure Bernadac writes of the figures from this period, "With their bearded, elongated faces, their huge questioning eyes, their long hair with or without hats, these 'Heads' represent one last concession on the painter's part to the 'all-too-human'. By contrast with the musketeers who all have the same face – these are true portraits, strongly characterized and individual." She continues, "Picasso's confrontation with the human face, which makes him into the great portrait-painter of the twentieth century, brings him back to a confrontation with himself, the painter, young or old" (Bernadac, Late Picasso: Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings, Prints, 1953-72 (exhibition catalogue), London, 1988, pp. 82-83).
The present work is a bold and expressive example from 1969. Encompassing almost the entire sheet, the monumentalized bust portrait conveys a range of honest emotions particular to this time in the artist's life. It is built up from strong, swirling lines of precise colors imbued with a frenetic sense of energy.
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