A Life of Innovation: Pablo Picasso’s Endless Creativity

Launch Slideshow

A review for Picasso’s first exhibition in Paris in 1901 noted: “[Picasso] is the brilliant newcomer. . . His personality is in his haste, this youthful impetuous spontaneity. I understand he is not yet 20, and covers as many as three canvases a day.” Several works from upcoming sales act as a survey of Picasso’s career, which, along with works from the Collection of Marina Picasso, reveal the continually evolving work of this artist for whom innovation was life. 

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale
03 February | London 
Surrealist Art Evening Sale
03 February | London
Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale
04 February | London
Picasso in Private
Works from the Collection of Marina Picasso

05 February | London

A Life of Innovation: Pablo Picasso’s Endless Creativity

  • L’Etreinte forcée, 1900
    In the autumn of 1900, a young Picasso made his first trip to Paris with his friend Carlos Casagemas, visiting the Louvre and other art galleries. One of the things that struck him about the French capital was the sight of couples embracing freely in the street, prompting a number of drawings on the subject. He may have had the expressive quality of Edvard Munch’s depictions of the same subject in mind as shown in the twisting forms of the couple and the juxtaposition of the luminous woman’s clothing against the darker form of the man.

  • Les Courses à Auteuil, 1901
    Made during Picasso’s second trip to Paris in 1901, Les Courses à Auteuil shows the young artist’s fascination with elegant and colourful figures he encountered there. Picasso shared the studio with his first dealer Pere Mañach, occupying the larger of the two rooms, which served as both bedroom and studio. It was through Mañach’s efforts that Ambroise Vollard organised the first exhibition of Picasso’s works held in Paris at the end of June 1901. 

  • Le Fou, circa1905-39
    In 1905 Picasso’s gaze shifted beyond his immediate surroundings and the sadness that had been the catalyst for the Blue Period, and he found a new fascination in the world of the fairground and the displaced people it attracted. Le Fou (or The Jester) is one of the most accomplished of Picasso’s early bronzes and was originally modelled in wax – a technique borrowed from Degas. An unknown number of casts, probably not more than 15, were made by Picasso's dealer Ambroise Vollard from 1905 until the dealer’s death in 1939. 

  • Nature morte, 1921
    £600,000 – 800,000

    This is one of a number of still-lifes that Picasso painted in the early 1920s, at a time he was revising his pre-war Cubist experiments. Here he begins to combine pure colour with powerful linear black shading to express volume and space. Picasso commented on the liberties he took with his still-lifes: “I put all the things I like into my pictures.”

  • Personnages, 1929

    In 1929, Picasso’s private life was dominated by more than one woman, as he became increasingly involved with his young mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, although still married to Olga Khokhlova. Personnages, together with other paintings Picasso produced at this time, reflects a variety of influences, most notably the work of Surrealist artists who were at the forefront of the European avant-garde. The stylistic ideas of the movement equipped Picasso with a highly abstracted vocabulary, which gave him the means to disguise the image of his mistress whose existence would remain secret until 1932. 

  • Le Peintre et son modèle, 1933
    Picasso’s images of his lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, are among the most euphoric and sexually charged compositions of his career. Her potent mix of physical attractiveness and sexual naivety had an intoxicating effect on Picasso, and his adoration is nowhere more apparent than in the depictions of his lover in the nude. In this exquisite charcoal drawing Picasso depicted his muse in three simultaneous roles – the artist, the model and the work of art itself. Marie-Thérèse, with her characteristic high-bridged nose and neat mouth, plays all three parts. 

  • Tête de femme, 1935
    “You have an interesting face. I would like to do a portrait of you. I feel we are going to do great things together.” It was with these words that Picasso began his almost decade long seduction of Marie-Thérèse Walter. This is one of the most geometrically complex renderings he made of his muse. Picasso completed this canvas at the height of the Surrealist movement in 1935, when Freudian psychosexual symbolism played a defining role in the imagery of the avant-garde. But the composition is an example of Picasso’s individualism, with the sharp, linear elements of his early Cubist compositions and colours unlike any he had used before.

  • Dora Maar was born Henriette Theodora Marković in Paris to a Croatian father and French mother and raised in Argentina. By the time she met Picasso in late 1935 she was an accomplished photographer. He was enchanted by her commanding presence, and in the eight years that followed, she became Picasso’s principal model. Maar was an artist, spoke Picasso’s native Spanish, and shared his intellectual and political concerns. She was an intellectual equal – a characteristic that Picasso found both stimulating and challenging.

  • Le Réservoir, 1952

    Le Réservoir is one of a small group of landscapes depicting the grounds of his distinctive pink villa, “La Galloise.” Picasso had visited the small town of Vallauris in the summer of 1946 while staying on the Côte d’Azur, visiting the Madoura pottery studio, and returned the following year to make the town his permanent home. In 1948, accompanied by Françoise Gilot and their one year old son Claude, the artist moved into “La Galloise,” and their daughter Paloma was born there the following year. Here, he juxtaposes the rosy pink of the villa’s walls with the brilliant blue of sky and water perfectly capturing the light and heat of his Mediterranean idyll.

  • Buste de femme, 1965
    Picasso met Jacqueline Roque in 1952 at the pottery studio in Vallauris, when he was still living with Françoise Gilot. Following his separation from Gilot in 1954, Jacqueline became his principal model and muse. Painted in 1965, Buste de femme illustrates Picasso’s ongoing exploration of the female form. In many of these works Jacqueline is not named as the subject, although she is immediately recognisable from her raven-black hair and striking features. 

  • Téte d'homme, 1966
    At the time this work was made, Picasso was enjoying a reputation as the world’s greatest living artist. The Tate Gallery’s sensational 1960 retrospective of his work was billed as “the exhibition of the century.” But Picasso’s concern about his own success is perhaps the driving force behind the breathless vibrancy of his later works. He is known to have said: “Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.”  

  • Buste d'homme, 1969
    In early May 1969 Picasso painted several oils, including this Buste d’homme, on the theme of the musketeer, which became one of the key subjects of his late œuvre. These characters embodied the courtly mannerisms of the Renaissance gentleman and signified the golden age of painting, reflecting the influence of Velázquez, Rembrandt and Rubens on Picasso’s art. Throughout the 1960s, he had devoted a large portion of his time to the reinterpretation and investigation of the Old Masters. The musketeers are understood to be disguised portraits of Picasso himself.