For most people, “a Picasso” is a painting from the second half of the 1930s. Picasso’s Cubo-Surrealist style during this period was also his most celebrated – given its surprising facial deformations – and perhaps his most complex.
15 December 2015
Surrealism emerged in the mid-1920s, giving Picasso an opportunity to explore the possibilities created by metamorphoses, as seen in the growths and protuberances of works such as the Boisgeloup heads and images of the mythical Minotaur. In the mid-1930s, Picasso reintroduced the Cubist idea of several co-existing planes, which led to an astonishing reorganisation of facial features. He also transformed matter: flesh became stone or bone and was depicted in bright, garish colours. The women in these portraits were increasingly unrecognisable, but still wore absurd hats. As a result of this stylistic synthesis, these images conveyed a sense of deformity or grotesqueness, perhaps in response to the violent speeches heralding war in Europe. Picasso came back to his women’s portrait series in the early 1960s, using the reproducible linocut technique and bright colours to develop his own unique take on pop art.