|Picasso first became interested in making linoleum cuts, following his meeting with the young printer, Hildago Arnèra, because the technique appeared to him well suited to the execution of graphic posters.
The artists first linoleum cuts were, for this reason, bold but simple images. Once he began to visualize significant multicolor compositions in linoleum cut, the medium became more central to his expression, succeeding in printmaking his work in lithography, which had reached a peak of virtuosity in his 195859 portraits of Jacqueline, but which had become frustrating for him to work on by long-distance correspondence with his lithographic printer in Paris, Mourlot.
In his linoleum cuts, as in other mediums, what appealed to Picasso was the exploration and extension of the limits of the technique, and the pleasure of retaining, in visual form, the evolution of a work of art as it developed through the stimulating interplay between concept and means of realization.
This exhibition draws special attention to the vitality and virtuosity of Picassos creative process in linoleum cut by showing, for the first time, the most complete sequences of states and variant proofs of the artists principal works in the medium, from his first glittering masterwork, Portrait de jeune fille, daprès Cranach le Jeune (checklist no. 51), (which was produced in a multi-block and multi-state process of immense complexity), and including his two major still lifes, of which the first to be completed, Nature morte à la suspension (checklist no. 55), required two blocks and over eight states in many combinations, while the Nature morte au verre sous la lampe (checklist no. 54), building on this experience, was brought to perfect completion in only five states of one block.
Finally, Jacqueline au chapeau à fleurs (checklist no. 56) shows the artist picking up again a work that was already an elegant gem as a two-tone composition and transforming it, by progressive cutting of the same block, into one of his most brilliant multicolor portraits.
This exhibition has been prompted by the confluence of works (proofs and unique sets of states) from two private collections which go back to the time of Picassos daily collaboration with his printer, Arnèra, and a selection of prints from the published editions which comes from one of the most important collections of modern prints formed in this century. All of these works are in virtually pristine condition, having been carefully stored since the day of their execution.
Picasso produced linoleum cuts over a period of more than a decade (195264), but it is in the years covered by this catalogue that his passion for the medium became most intense. It is our hope that the exhibition will be visually exciting and will illuminate the process and means by which Picasso conquered and transformed this previously humble medium, capitalizing on its potential to distill images of dazzling color and dancing arabesque.
Marc Rosen and Susan Pinsky
|Click on image to view enlargement|