Pastel, black chalk and pencil on paper (recto)
Pen and red ink on paper (verso)
Albert E. Gallatin, New York
George L. K. Morris, New York
Walter P. Chrysler Jr., New York
Private Collection, New York
Acquired by the present owner in June 1998
Chicago, The Arts Club, Walter P. Chrysler Jr. Collection, 1937, no. 27
Detroit, Institute of Arts, Selected Exhibition of the Walter P. Chrysler Jr. Collection, 1937, no. 98
New York, Perls Galleries, Picasso Before 1910, 1939, no. 24
Richmond, Virginia, Museum of Fine Arts; Philadelphia, Museum of Fine Arts, Collection of Walter P. Chrysler Jr., 1941, no. 212 (titled Les Demoiselles d'Avignon)
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Pablo Picasso, 1988-89, no. 151
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, oeuvres de 1906 à 1912, vol. 2*, Paris, 1942, no. 5, illustrated pl. 3 (verso drawing not mentioned)
Pierre Daix and Jean Rosselet, Picasso, The Cubist Years, 1907-1916: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings and Related Works, Boston, 1979, no. 79, illustrated p. 206 (titled Nu aux bras levés and verso drawing not mentioned)
Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso Cubism 1907-1917, New York, 1990, no. 36, illustrated p. 42 (verso drawing not mentioned)
P. Russoli and Fiorella Minervino, L'Opera Completa di Picasso cubista, Milan, no. 77, illustrated p. 92
Picasso executed this surprisingly colorful pastel of a standing nude around the same time as his landmark composition, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. This work is one of at least six full figure drawings that Picasso completed during the spring and summer of 1907. According to Daix and Rousselet, the present work is believed to be the first incarnation, although a mirror image pose of the figure in the large oil, Nu à la draperie, now at the Hermitage.
In his catalogue raisonné, Christian Zervos titled this work Jeune garçon nu, believing the figure to be male. Recent scholars have been more ambiguous about the gender of the figure, titling the work Nu aux bras levés, or, in the case of Josep Palau i Fabre, Androgyne with Upraised Arms. In his consideration of this work, he writes: "The magnificent Androgyne with Upraised Arms, which some do not think is a male figure since it is obviously quite androgynous, seems to claim a place in the remote origins of the projects that culminated in the aforementioned Nude with Drapery. Its ambiguity might have been forced on Picasso by his own eagerness to do away with relief. The absence of a female breast on the one hand, and the non-existence of male genitals on the other, make it possible for the artist to describe a body in complete harmony with the drapery, while nothing stands out from the flatness of the space. The fact that it is a drawing could be an excuse to avoid the use of paint and the problems that are inherent to it. How can one possibly paint an eye or nose or a mouth and not be trapped into using some of the atavisms of the language of painting? How can they be sketched without the paint looking like a caricature of itself or a banality? Surely it is better to blatantly draw them. A drawing, its lines, can afford to express a naïveté that is more difficult to obtain and justify with a paintbrush, as this instrument carries connotations of undeniable wisdom. Pastel introduces color and places us halfway between drawing and painting" (Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso Cubism 1907-1917, New York, 1990, p. 42).
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