My Top Lot this week is this amazing still life by Picasso (1945). Currently up for sale at Sotheby’s Auction House (estimated to go for a massive £150,000… guess I won’t be buying it for my bedroom wall then…), the collage is part of the artists’s grand-daughter, Marina Picasso’s, private collection which she inherited when he died in 1973.
For me, the piece, so simple and so characteristic of his late style, captures just how incredibly talented the artist was. I love his use of primary colours blue and red, complemented by small bits of purple and green, and the way all the different floating coloured shapes are framed and grounded by the energetic charcoal-black lines. It just seems to epitomise exactly what Picasso does well: breaking the subject down into its core elements; emphasising what is necessary for its representation and removing what isn’t.
I also love the tantalising bits of detail in the composition which really set your imagination on fire. Is that a figure in a doorway in the background? His shadow and posture look kind of imposing… what could he be saying? Despite their (seemingly unpaletable colouring) the fruits in the bowl look delicious and very tempting. As a viewer you almost feel like Eve and the Forbidden Fruit. Does the figure in the doorway represent God looking over Adam and Eve in Genesis?
Whatever your interpretation of the piece, Picasso’s revolutionary development of the still-life genre is not something to look over. No longer a mere vessel to demonstrate an artist’s technical prowess, one of Picasso greatest achievements was his development of still life genre into – and to quote Sotheby’s directly – “a tool capable of evoking the most complex blend of pathos and defiance, of despair to hope, balancing personal and universal experience in an expression of extraordinary emotional power”.