THE 'PAPIERS DECHIRES' BY PABLO PICASSO (LOTS 210-212)
Paper has been put to many different uses in art: as a surface in graphic art, and as a material for collage and sculpture. Picasso, who as a child saw his father's passion for origami, explored them all. The Papiers déchirés (Torn papers) created from 1943 onwards took various forms: heads of dogs, fish, bulls, birds, skulls, and so forth. Indeed, Picasso, in a state of perpetual creation, cut out small figures from paper napkins and paper tablecloths at restaurants to entertain his companions and children. Brassaï, who captured many of these paper works on film (at Picasso's request, since the artist was aware of their fragility), once recalled the origin of a series of white bichon frises: "Dora [Maar] had a white bichon frise she loved ... But one day it died. So, as a way of consoling his grieving mistress, at every meal, for several days, Picasso resurrected the little dog with its big black eyes and folded ears, sometimes with holes in the nose, eyes, and mouth, most often burned with the embers of a match or cigarette. (...) We no longer see the grainy paper of the napkin, but the silky, undulating white coat of this dog that has been brought to life, looking at us through the fringe of its long fur." Through photography, these small ordinary objects take on another dimension. Picasso was very attached to them and was making fun of the hierarchy of genres. In his view, a torn piece of paper was worth as much as an oil painting on canvas. Dora Maar kept many of them throughout her life, and in 1949 the dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler included them in his book on Picasso's sculptures. Striking in their poetry and magic, these works, which evoke Picasso's sense of intimacy and inform us of the artist's process of invention, should be considered true works of art. They pose the questions: What did Picasso consider a masterpiece? What do we consider a Picasso masterpiece?