Monday, May 20, 2013

Picasso: harlequins and "Vollard Suite" etchings

I couldn't neglect to share with you this awesome image of two girls reading  from the book Picasso: Harlequin. Besides expertly annotated and reproduced images of myriad harlequins, this beautifully produced volume also includes the complete "Vollard Suite" of 100 etchings Picasso created between 1930 and 1937, at a critical juncture in his career. Several of them allude to his great predecessors Rembrandt and Goya, as well as to his contemporary, Matisse. In a 2012 exhibition of the complete set, the British Library described them as follows:
"The prints were made when Picasso was involved in a passionate affair with his muse and model, Marie-Thérèse Walter, whose classical features are a recurrent presence in the series. They offer an ongoing process of change and metamorphosis that eludes any final resolution. Picasso gave no order to the plates nor did he assign any titles to them. Picasso kept the plates open-ended to allow connections to be freely made among them, yet certain thematic groupings can also be identified.
The predominant theme of the Vollard Suite is the Sculptor’s Studio (46 etchings), which deals with Picasso’s engagement with classical sculpture. At this point he was making sculpture at his new home and studio, the Château de Boisgeloup outside Paris. The etchings of his young model, Marie-Thérèse, represent a dialogue alternating between the artist and his creation and between the artist and his model. Various scenarios are played out between the sculptor, the model and the created work. Among them is the classical myth of Pygmalion in which the sculptor becomes so enamoured of his creation that it comes to life at the artist’s touch."
This is the harlequin painting reproduced on the book's cover. In it, Picasso is emulating the three-quarter pose of Renaissance portraiture. The artist gave the 1917 work (which some believe to be a "transposed self-portrait") to the city of Barcelona two years after painting it.

This is a luxurious tome that would make a fine graduation gift or grace any coffee table or collection of art books. The stylistic variations on the harlequin theme are pretty fantastic.

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