Picasso’s penultimate print series hit the newsstands in late 1968, with reporters baffled by their rapid production and erotic content—20 of the prints, in particular, sparked a debate about whether they should ever be shown publicly. Picasso had created 347 etchings and aquatints in just seven months. For comparison, Rembrandt van Rijn produced around 300 etchings over the course of his entire career. Named for the number of works therein, the “‘347’ Series” toured internationally that same year, displayed at Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago
, and the Museum of Modern Art
in New York.
Describing the series, Picasso said, “I spend hour after hour, while I draw, observing my creatures and thinking about the mad things they’re up to; basically it’s my way of writing fiction.” Fine line drawings of brothel scenes and erotica dominate Picasso’s final print suite, the “‘156’ Series,” which the artist completed within a year of his death in 1973.
A previous version of this article stated that Picasso left his lover Françoise Gilot. It was Gilot who actually left Picasso.