© Pablo Picasso / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY.

Pablo Picasso: Portraits

Although Pablo Picasso worked in a variety of different styles and mediums throughout his prolific career, he never stopped creating portraits of those in his inner circle. Even in his most abstract portraits, Picasso captures his sitters’ personalities. For example, his cubist portrait of his friend and art dealer Ambroise Vollard (1910), shows the figure broken down into geometric, angled shapes, although the viewer can still discover that Vollard was a serious and somewhat gruff individual with his downcast eyes and frown. Picasso is also famous for his portraits of his lovers, which often distort their features into playful abstractions. His sultry sleeping portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Le Rêve (1932) is among the world’s most expensive paintings ever sold, reaching $155 million through a private sale in 2013. Regarding his outlook on portraiture, Picasso was often elusive. “When you start with a portrait and search for a pure form, a clear volume, through successive eliminations, you arrive inevitably at the egg,” he once said, “Likewise, starting with the egg and following the same process in reverse, one finishes with the portrait.”

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