Heather James Fine Art Celebrates Picasso’s Remarkable Range and Inventiveness

Mar 7, 2016 8:47PM

Pablo Picasso, one of the 20th century’s most influential artists, could seemingly shape anything into a work of art. He famously worked in an all-encompassing range of mediums and materials to produce paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings, among various other projects. In “Picasso” at Heather James Fine Art, the California gallery offers a diverse array of the artist’s work in celebration of his remarkable range and inventiveness.

Born in Spain and based mostly in Paris, Picasso was an avid experimenter and prolific artist. He produced more than 20,000 artworks during his lifetime, ranging from thumbprint-sized pebbles etched with delicately rendered faces to his groundbreaking Cubist painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). Among the strongest of his numerous, varied influences were Oceanic and African masks and statuary as well as ancient carvings from the Iberian Peninsula—present-day Spain, Andorra, and Portugal—which he encountered in the studios of his fellow artists and in France’s ethnographic museums. Their abstract, angular forms found their way into his own work.

Such influences—as filtered through Picasso’s capacious mind and deft hand—can be seen in the prints, paintings, works on paper, and ceramics on view at Heather James Fine Art. Male faces are depicted in a suite of prints from 1964, as in Femeur a la Cigarette Rose, which features a man holding a red cigarette to his lips. His sketchily rendered face is masklike, a combination of loose, geometric shapes and scribbled lines that resolve into hair, a face, and the hint of a neck and shoulders. Similalry, in Tete d’Homme Autete d’Homme au Maillot Raye, a man’s nose, mouth, and chin are composed of two intersecting, angular lines that resemble the double helix of DNA.

Picasso also made portraits of his family. The show includes a lithograph, Paloma et sa Poupée sur Fond Noir (1952), picturing his daughter Paloma holding a doll. The child’s full, round face is made from a mass of patterned shapes that echo those found on African masks. At once tender and edgy, the image exemplifies the realms Picasso traversed in his work, the results of which continue to astonish.

Karen Kedmey

Picasso” is on view at Heather James Fine Art, Palm Desert, Nov. 27, 2015–May 27, 2016.

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