Picasso: Life and Art

By Pierre Daix; Olivia Emmet | Go to book overview

38
A PICASSO FINALE
1969-1973

A list of works which follow 167 oil paintings and 45 drawings done between January 1969 and the end of January 1970 for the May 1970 exhibition at the Palais des Papes in Avignon includes 194 drawings between 15 December 1969 and 12 January 1971; 156 engravings between 1970 and March 1972; 172 further drawings between 21 November 1971 and 18 August 1972; and 201 paintings between 25 September 1970 and 1 June 1972. There were also 57 drawings given to the Arles museum, as well as work which was shown or published separately. Over a period of less than four years, Picasso added to his previous achievement a quantity of work large enough to constitute the lifetime oeuvre of a productive artist. In sheer numbers, as well as in the high proportion of major works (some of the engravings are certainly Picasso at the height of his form), this finale is a sumptuous bequest.

The 347 engravings derive for the most part from Picasso's private, internal Spain, with Celestines and women being sold or pursued by gentlemen who might very well be Velásquez. His paintings assume a greater distance. Since 1905 and the Harlequin series and the first engravings, Picasso's drawing always provided a means by which he could be a spectator, especially of showmen, harlequins, and circus people. The period of the Suite Vollard added the story of the sculptor. And the Minotaur—as a projection of the artist—took the place of Harlequin. The rupture with Françoise produced the painter, who made his appearance in the drawings for Verve.

During the period of the first Avignon exhibition, painting continued to explore the subjects first considered by engravings in the autumn of 1968. As Picasso moved from one engraving to the next, like a novelist following his characters' adventures and imagining what will happen to them, he probably found that each new painting posed independent problems, arousing his thirst for new solutions. Most of this work, however, rests squarely in the world of these 347 engravings. And of course, since the subject is painting, there are evocations or colloquies with Velásquez and Rembrandt, which are usually quite emphatic, as in the transpositions of the seated

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