Homme et femme nus, executed in crayon and India ink, expertly combines the two mediums exemplifying Picasso’s technical brilliance, where blurring washes of ink are used to create an atmosphere of confusion and the rendering of the bodies as a composite of disjointed and angular planes recalls Picasso’s Cubist experimentations of the 1910s. Underlying ripples of sexual frustration and the struggles and physical hardships facing the aging painter are given potent expression in this work, as Hoffeld notes: ‘Contortionist sexual gymnastics, if only portrayed rather than actually lived, vicariously restore confidence, relive despair, and provide recollected moments of orgasmic oblivion.’ (ibid., p.13).
Picasso’s sensual rendering of the female body and the voyeuristic old man behind her in this work give resonance to the words of the artist’s granddaughter, Diana Widmaier Picasso: ‘What underlies Picasso’s entire work – the only thing – is an erotic drive transformed into artistic desire. One is an extension of the other’ (Diana Widmaier Picasso, Picasso, ‘Art Can Only Be Erotic’, Munich, 2005, p.7).
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