- Pablo Picasso
- Femme assise
- Dated 28.2.49. (on the reverse)
- Oil on canvas
Jacqueline Picasso, Mougins (by descent from the above)
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (acquired from the above circa 1980-86)
Waddington Galleries, Ltd., London
Acquired from the above in October 1988
London, Waddington Galleries, Ltd., Twentieth Century Works, 1988, no. 36
In his discussion of Picasso’s late works David Sylvester notes the remarkable affinity between his early masterpiece, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and these later pictures: “…this was a classic instance of the way Picasso had of picking things up, consciously or unconsciously, where he had left them long before. It would also be an instance of our habit in old age of looking at our early days: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was the giant step of Picasso’s early days —he knew it at the time and so did his friends, and his enemies— and in retrospect it went on being the most crucial single work in his entire development. So, given Picasso’s perennial habit of self-quotation and given that this became more addictive as he got older, it is not inconceivable that his late works sometimes quote the Demoiselles (D. Sylvester, Late Picasso. Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings, Prints 1953-1972 (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 142). The faceted female bodies and mask-like faces of Picasso’s seminal 1907 painting have largely been attributed to the birth of Cubism and have been considered by some to have played a defining role in the course of modern art throughout the twentieth century. Drawn by the sophisticated approach to abstraction found in these unfamiliar objects, Picasso, Matisse and many other modern artists incorporated the aesthetics of the highly stylized treatment of the human figure found in traditional African sculpture to their own works. The powerful influence of these objects, evident in the fractured facial landscape of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is repeated in the angular face of the sitter in the present work.
Much in the same vein as Picasso, contemporary American artist George Condo re-contextualizes the works of artists who have come before him to produce his own, avant-garde vision. Straddling the line between the familiar and the uncanny, the grotesque and the beautiful, Condo’s rich pictorial creations have made him one of the most inventive and popular artists of his generation. By emulating the pictorial modes of the Cubist cannon set out by Picasso and Georges Braque in the fractured facial features of his sitters, Condo is at once looking back to his modernist forbearers, while expanding on their aesthetic to reveal a distorted amalgamation of facial features which pushes the very tenants of abstraction. Condo himself stated: “I believe that painting needs to transform in order for it to become interesting for each and every generation, but I think of it more in terms of being liberated by history. Liberated by what has come before” (the artist cited in R. Rugoff, “The Enigma of Jean Louis,” in George Condo, Existential Portraits: Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings 2005-2006 (exhibition catalogue), Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York, 2006, p. 7).