Beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, Picasso made a habit of spending the summers with his family on the Côte d’Azur, where the landscape and culture reminded him of his upbringing along the Catalan Mediterranean coast. During one of his sojourns in the region in the summer of 1946, Picasso discovered pottery as an outlet of his ceaseless creative impulses during a chance visit to the Madoura Pottery studio of Suzanne and Georges Ramié. Motivated partially by his enthusiasm for working with clay, Picasso began to spend more and more time near Vallauris, acquiring a villa there in 1949.
Picasso’s ceramics of this period is filled with imagery of aminals both natural and mythological, as Picasso worked with enormous enthusiasm and creativity to transform, quite literally, earth into art. The present sculpture exudes avian vitality, the rounded forms of the bird and dashes of bright pigment projecting a sense of majesty evocative of epically large bird which it represents. Although the work was not acquired by Nelson Rockefeller until September 1955, references to it appear in correspondences between him and Alfred Barr as early as July 1952. In it, Barr, who was a trusted eye to Nelson and often suggested purchases for objects and paintings he had inspected on Nelson’s behalf, describes the bird as “very handsome, I think.”
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