Metal in general and bronze in particular, as well as foundries who handled these materials, were under intensive scrutiny during wartime. Picasso relocated many of his sculptures from foundries as well as his country home in Boisgeloup to his studio in Paris. There, in the bathroom, which was the only room he could properly heat, Picasso continued to create sculpture. The bathtub held the plaster model of Le Chat and the same year that Cigare was created, Picasso would sculpt Tête de mort and his monumental Tête de femme. At night, Picasso and his friends would secretly transport plasters to foundries and bronzes back from them, often hidden in a wheelbarrow. Casting sculpture in bronze was forbidden at this time but the artist, his friends and dealers found ways around these restrictions. Not all of his sculptural output was made in such large scale or of such immutable materials. Everything in Paris was precious at this time and Picasso created delicate sculpted works from paper table cloths, bits of string, thin wires and, in the case of Cigare, found pieces of wood.
In her exploration of Picasso and Dora’s life together, Anne Baldassari writes of these magical objects: “Picasso worked on an ironic game that consisted of turning himself into a counterfeiter of the real…. The slow burning imitation cigar, made of painted wood [the present work], the bird fluttering on its wire twig and the paper flower planted in a crust of bread all bear witness to the impoverished state of the times. This treasure trove also includes masks made from paper restaurant table covers and napkins, objects made from bottle tops and twisted wires, from tobacco tins and embellished matchboxes. Brassaï’s interpretation through these ghostly images of the story of Picasso and Dora forms a sort of inventory of fetishes and pretenses of ‘tricks and trompe l’oeil, full of humor and mischief,’ that attest to the inventiveness of their collaborative legend: ‘with the utmost care, she took them out the other day for me [Brassaï] to photograph…. The numerous papers and pieces of card cut out with scissors or torn into silhouettes by hand are quite enchanting…” (Picasso, Life with Dora Maar: Love and War 1935-1945, Op. cit., p 252).
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