“I have less and less time and I have more and more to say,” Picasso commented in his last decade (quoted in Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso Laureatus, Lausanne & Paris, 1971, p. 166). In both style and subject matter, the present work reveals the freedom and spontaneity which Picasso permitted himself to embrace in his later work. Picasso depicts the nude resting languorously against cushions, surrounded by musicians and dancers, devoted entirely to her own pleasure yet meeting the onlooker’s gaze.
Her pose is reminiscent of Édouard Manet’s Olympia (see fig. 1), the watershed piece that challenged traditional representations of female sexuality by depicting the nude Olympia with a direct and challenging gaze back onto the viewer's, an artistic choice that both empowered and celebrated female sexuality. Musiciens et femme serves as a superb illumination of Picasso’s commitment in the later part of his career to revisiting the work of many great masters, particularly the work of Manet, as well as his glorification of female sexuality, a theme which stands as arguably the fundamental cornerstone of his most significant works throughout his career.
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