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Details & Cataloguing

Erotic: Passion & Desire

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London

Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
HOMME ET FEMME NUS
signed Picasso and dated 29.11.71. III (lower right)
brush and ink, wash and pencil on paper
51 by 66.5cm., 20 by 26 1/8in.
Executed on 29th November 1971.
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Provenance

Galerie Louis Leiris, Paris
Marlborough Gallery, Madrid & New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in February 2015

Exhibited

New York, Marlborough Gallery, On Paper: Selected Drawings of the 19th and 20th Centuries, 2000, no. 103, illustrated in the catalogue p. 28
Florida, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Picasso: Passion and Creation/The Last Thirty Years, 2001, n.n., illustrated in the catalogue p. 41

Literature

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Œuvres de 1971 à 1972, Paris, 1958, vol. XXXIII, no. 248, illustrated p. 248

Catalogue Note

A powerful example of Pablo Picasso’s mature drawing, Homme et femme nus is imbued with an extraordinary sensuality and eroticism. Depicting a woman languorously enclosed within the embrace of a somewhat satyr-like male, the present work superbly embodies the words of the critic Jeffrey Hoffeld: ‘[Picasso, in his art,] is a voluptuary, hedonist worshipper of flesh and orgiastic tumble’ (Jeffrey Hoffeld, Picasso, The Late Drawings, New York, 1988, p.6)

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).

Erotic: Passion & Desire

|
London