FROM VAUVENARGUES TO MOUGINS
BY WAY OF MANET
The fact that Mourlot lived in Paris—a considerable and inconvenient distance—had posed one of the principal obstacles to making lithographs in the Cote d'Azur. Then a young printer in Vallauris was found—Arnera—who used linogravure for posters. Picasso was delighted and made some posters especially for Arnera to print: an announcement of the annual pottery show and then the corrida of 1956. During the winter of 1958, he did his first linocut in the strict sense of the word, Buste de femme d'après Cranach le Jeune, an exercise of extreme technical virtuosity with six states, each of a different color. Picasso multiplied the possibilities of the process so that he could study the unexpected effects of these combinations of color. 1
Picasso first stayed at Vauvenargues in midwinter 1959, replying to Kahnweiler's warnings about the dreariness of the place at that time of year with a simple declaration: "I'm Spanish." (There is, in fact, something of the Escorial about the place.) On 12 February Picasso began to paint the seat and back of a chair. In canvases from the new estate two months later, "one still finds some elements of that chair," Jardot notes, "the yellow, and red, and bottle-green; and the free and forthright brushwork, ... an evocation of [his] internal Spain: ardent, grave, simple, and frank." 2
No trace of Cézanne here. On 18 February, back at la Californie, Picasso painted the château's enormous buffet and Perro, his Dalmatian dog. 3 Jacqueline became the queen of Vauvenargues, so much so that Picasso would call a portrait of 20 April Jacqueline de Vauvenargues. Still at la Californie, he began another château buffet, even more monumental than the first, with a child and a bust. 4 On his next stay at Vauvenargues, he gave the picture a profound reworking with Ripolin, allowing the paint to run and dribble freely, producing the unforeseeable effects of hazard.
He could scarcely be unaware of the extension given to effects of substance and texture by younger artists like Dubuffet and Soulages. He himself, after all, in the beginning of 1912 had been the first to use Ripolin to create contrasts of color, which because they were lacquered were all the more dazzling against the earthy tonalities of Analytical Cubism. During