The present work is one of a series of still lifes, beginning as early as 1919, in which the compotier makes a recurrent appearance in combination with other still-life items. This consistency of subject matter allowed Picasso to focus his attention on formal experimentation, enabling him to develop the still-life theme in hitherto unexplored directions. Employing the flat, geometric planes associated with his Cubist works, Peinture (Compotier, bouteille et paquet de cigarettes) distorts perspective even further, seemingly amalgamating the horizontal and vertical elements of the picture plane so that the nature of traditional dimensionality is questioned.
Discussing this highly significant phase of Picasso’s career, John Richardson notes that these still-lifes ‘are astonishingly varied in their dazzling colours, elaborate patterning, rich textures and complex compositions. No longer did Picasso feel obliged to investigate the intricate formal and spatial problems that had preoccupied him ten years before. Instead he felt free to relax and exploit his cubist discoveries in a decorative manner that delights the eye’ (John Richardson, Picasso, An American Tribute (exhibition catalogue), Knoedler Galleries, New York, 1962).
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