Pablo Picasso, ‘Pique (Bullfight)’, 1959, Phillips

Property from a Private Collection

Image: 20 7/8 x 25 1/8 in. (53 x 63.8 cm)
Sheet: 24 1/2 x 29 1/2 in. (62.2 x 74.9 cm)

Signed and numbered 18/50 in pencil (there were also approximately 20 artist’s proofs), printed by Arnéra, published by Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 1960, framed.

From the Catalogue:
As early as 1951, Picasso had made annual linocut posters for the Expositions and bullfights at Vallauris, assisted by a Vallauris printer, Arnéra. . . .Also at Vallauris, in 1947, the artist had begun to work with ceramics, with Suzanne and Georges Ramié, discovering new technical and artistic possibilities in this ancient art and enjoying the intimate relationship of artist and craftsman-collaborator within the small village workshop. Eleven years later, in 1958, Picasso again sought out the master printer Arnéra in nearby Vallauris, and began what was to become an epic initial series of forty-five multi-colored linocuts and a total production of over one hundred linocuts by 1963. (Donald H. Karshan, Experiments in Linogravure, Gagosian Gallery, Athens, 2010, p. 9)

Picasso revolutionized the process of making prints using linoleum beginning in 1958, the same year that he moved to the South of France. There, this "linocut" printing method was already popular for creating advertisements or other posters that promoted local events, such as bullfights. Linoleum’s soft aspect allowed for a meandering line in which the artist could capture emotional crests and troughs of an energetic, live-action bullfight. With the liberating linocut method, Picasso explored his own cultural history while simultaneously upending long-practiced printing traditions with a radical method of printing multiple colors upon one linoleum block. A 1968 review of Picasso’s linocuts acclaimed “No other series of graphic works, aside from Goya’s, explores with such range the duality of man and beast . . .” (Donald H. Karshan, Picasso Linocuts 1958-1963, 1968.)

He discovered that by printing in strong colors from the same block, after cutting away the unwanted parts, he could overprint more economically and obtain a density of color and texture which gave entirely new possibilities to the process as well as a subtle richness to the effects. To obtain these it was essential to see clearly from the start the consequences of each successive printing, because once the block had been altered by cutting away part of the surface there was no return. Roland Penrose, Picasso: His Life and Work.
Courtesy of Phillips

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About Pablo Picasso

A prolific and tireless innovator of art forms, Pablo Picasso impacted the course of 20th-century art with unparalleled magnitude. Inspired by African and Iberian art and developments in the world around him, Picasso contributed significantly to a number of artistic movements, notably Cubism, Surrealism, Neoclassicism, and Expressionism. Along with Georges Braque, Picasso is best known for pioneering Cubism in an attempt to reconcile three-dimensional space with the two-dimensional picture plane, once asking, “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” Responding to the Spanish Civil War, he painted his most famous work, Guernica (1937), whose violent images of anguished figures rendered in grisaille made it a definitive work of anti-war art. “Painting is not made to decorate apartments,” he said. “It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.” Picasso’s sizable oeuvre includes over 20,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, theater sets, and costume designs.

Spanish, 1881-1973, Malaga, Spain, based in Paris and Mougins, France