Picasso's Animal Instincts

Launch Slideshow

A lifetime animal lover, Picasso incorporated animals into even his first-known drawings as a young student in Spain. As an adult his menagerie of pets, which included a goat who roamed his estate grounds, an owl with whom he shared his studio, and the faithful dachshund he affectionately named Lump, provided subject matter and inspiration for a multitude of his paintings and sculptures. From those beasts that inhabited his studio, to the bullfighting rings he visited in his childhood, to the sea life found in the nearby ocean outside his studio window, the animal world provided consistently fascinating inspiration for his explorations in both two and three dimensions.

Picasso: Man & Beast
18 May | New York

Picasso's Animal Instincts

  • Pablo Picasso, Tête de faune, painted and partially glazed ceramic; tomette (floor tile). Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    This exceptional group of works from the illustrious collection of Marina Picasso, the artist’s granddaughter, assembles drawings and unique ceramics spanning the entirety of Picasso’s career with a particular focus on the forms of man and beast. Playful objects abound in this collection as with a sequence of tiles depicting a bearded faun. Indeed, the dark eyes that stare out at us – for they seem in their upright positions to look directly forward – may be those of the artist himself.

  • Pablo Picasso, Taureau, painted and varnished ceramic; round plate, 1957. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    Picasso’s late work is filled with references to his youth in Spain and also to important moments in his life and development as an artist. Although he lived in self-imposed exile in France, he took particular interest in the bullfights that were held in the region, producing posters for corridas in Vallauris and helping sponsor the events.

  • Pablo Picasso, Homme dans un fauteuil, pencil on paper, 1914. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    Of special interest for their rarity in this collection are a significant number of Cubist drawings, in which the complexities of representation and perspective are given new expression. Some of these works on paper relate to paintings, while others were done to elaborate ideas – including variations on still life compositions – or to take them further in terms of their inventiveness. Another important group of drawings in the collection dates from 1914, and these were done in Avignon just before the outbreak of World War I. At this time, the impact of classicism both in terms of the representation of form and also in the choice of subject matter resulted in a significant change in the overall direction of Picasso’s art.

  • Pablo Picasso, Visage, pencil on blue paper, circa 1936. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    During the 1920s and 1930s, Picasso generally made a habit of spending the summers with his family on the Côte d’Azur (occasionally, he went north to the Atlantic coast). As a native of Málaga, he felt a keen sense of identity with the Mediterranean and its artistic traditions, and his delight at finding himself once more on its shores is reflected strongly in his work. Picasso particularly liked the area around Antibes and Juan-les-Pins, not only for the beach and the spacious villas but because of the antique associations of the place itself (modern-day Antibes is located close to the Greek site of Antipolis). He later claimed “every time I come to Antibes, it takes hold of me over and over again . . . I cannot explain the call . . . at Antibes this antiquity seizes hold of me every time.”

  • Pablo Picasso, Vase-femme avec un bras-anse, painted and incised ceramic; vase. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    “For me, art has neither a past nor a future. If a work of art is not alive in the present, then it may as well not exist at all.”- Pablo Picasso

  • Pablo Picasso, Vase aux deux chèvres, painted, incised and glazed ceramic; wide-bellied vase, 1952. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    After the war, Picasso began to spend more and more time in the South of France, where in 1949 he acquired a villa in Vallauris, near the Madoura Pottery. In an interview about their time together on the Côte d’Azur in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Picasso’s companion Françoise Gilot reiterated the importance to the artist of the native myths of the classical world: “Picasso, in the true Mediterranean tradition, had been brought up on these stories since childhood. He had completely assimilated them, and it was as if they had become a part of his being that he could access whenever the Mediterranean atmosphere led him back to the times ‘when the Gods walked the earth in human form.’”

  • Pablo Picasso, Deux calamars et un serpent de mer, 1960, painted, incised, and glazed ceramic. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    “Although I came from far away, I am a child of the sea; I long to bathe in it, to gulp down the salty water”– Pablo Picasso 

  • Pablo Picasso, Poisson, 1914, watercolor and pencil on paper. Estimate $5,000–7,000.
    An important group of drawings in the collection dates from 1914, and these were done in Avignon just before the outbreak of World War I. At this time, the impact of classicism both in terms of the representation of form and also in the choice of subject matter resulted in a significant change in the overall direction of Picasso’s art.

  • Pablo Picasso, Femme de dos, les bras croisés (recto I); Tête de femme cubiste, profil gauche (recto II) & Études de figures (verso): A Double-Sided Work, 1907, pencil and pen and ink on paper. Estimate $70,000–90,000.
    The drawings in the Marina Picasso collection include early sketches, some of them done in Spain before the artist moved to France, and a wide variety of later works on paper, that mark important stages in Picasso’s development as a mature artist. This rich variety of drawings allows us to trace the artist’s traditional and, at times, non-traditional use of drawing techniques and different materials, and to follow his working methods as his artistic approach evolved. Picasso often used both sides of his paper, and this practice provides a clue to understanding how one image might affect another as he worked.

  • Pablo Picasso, La Corrida, 1951, painted and glazed ceramic. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    Just as bullfight imagery makes a significant appearance in Picasso’s lithographs and drawings of the 1950s, corridas and bulls are often the subject of his ceramics. Picasso also took delight in the analogy of using a round or oval ceramic platter to evoke the shape of the bullring – with a foreshortened view provided by the oval – and he often populated the border with the crowd.

  • Pablo Picasso, Taureau, 1957, modeled and incised clay. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    Picasso not only used the familiar techniques of drawing, painting, printmaking and modeling that he used in other media, but he also experimented with the mysteries of the ceramic process itself, in which aspects of the object, including its coloring, change when fired in the kiln. Ceramics also evoked memories of Picasso’s native Spain, and certain subjects such as the bullfight, are explored in fired clay with great wit, inventiveness and, it could be said, a sense of nostalgia.

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