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    Sale 7701

    Impressionist/Modern Art, Evening Sale

    4 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 37

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Buste d'homme

    Price Realised  


    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
    Buste d'homme
    dated '25.6.71.' (lower right)
    oil on canvas.
    51¼ x 38 3/8 in. (130.1 x 97.5 cm.)
    Painted in June 1971

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    Painted on 25 June 1971, Buste d'homme is filled with the vim and vigour so distinctive of Pablo Picasso's Post-War works. The man who has been depicted sits, looking out at the viewer with a calm that is at odds with the expressive and expressionistic brushstrokes with which he has been rendered. The canvas is a riot of contrasts of colour and texture, ranging from the deliberately-exposed primed canvas to thick impastos, while the background is a swirling mass of colours, making palpable the traces of the artist's energetic movements.

    In a sense, the overt evidence of Picasso's frantic activity in creating Buste d'homme shows him defying his age. This picture, painted only months before his ninetieth birthday, shows an undiminished stamina. Picasso is showing an energy and even a virility through his brushwork, and this carries through to the theme itself. Many of the characters who people Picasso's later works are partial self-portraits, projections of his own personality, figures through which he has explored his own wishes and anxieties. It is for this reason, in part, that the musketeers and cavaliers, toreros and fishermen became such important touchstones during this period. In Buste d'homme, the fragments visible of what appears to be a striped shirt, similar to those worn by sailors and of a type that Picasso himself often wore, hint at a man on a voyage; meanwhile, the hat recalls a range of influences, not least that of one of his greatest artistic precedents and heroes, Vincent van Gogh.

    The manly exertions of the various characters in their respective fields provided parallels to Picasso's own death-defying activity. In June 1971, this need for self-affirmation was all the more evident as he had been focussing on graphic works and drawings for quite a long period. Over the space of over a month, he had touched only a couple of paintings until he began Buste d'homme on the 25th June. Now, a new panoply of characters emerged in the days that followed, marking Buste d'homme as a springboard for the artist's new burst of creativity. The relish that he felt in revisiting his beloved oils is plain to see in the impasto and energy of its execution. And the range of techniques that he has used, the manner in which he has discarded traditional aesthetics, reveal Picasso, by this time the great statesman of modern painting, looking around him, still willing, magpie-like, to adopt elements from the new avant gardes. Here, aspects of Art Brut, Informel and Abstract Expressionism can be seen to have collided with the remnants of Picasso's own pioneering Cubism to create this vivid image. The codified forms of the body and face have their roots in Picasso's own work, but the directness of Buste d'homme still owes something to the revelation that he had had when looking at the pictures created by his own children. It is a tribute to the quality of Buste d'homme that it featured in the posthumous 1973 exhibition of Picasso's works, held in the Palais des Papes in Avignon, an exhibition that celebrated the vitality of the artist's later paintings.

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    The artist's estate (inv. no. 13738).
    Marina Picasso, Paris.
    Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva.
    Jeffrey H. Loria & Co., Inc., New York.
    Acquired from the above by the late owner in August 1991.

    Pre-Lot Text



    D. Duncan, Goodbye Picasso, London, 1974 (illustrated in photograph p. 281).
    C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, oeuvres de 1971-1972, vol. 33, Paris, 1978, no. 72 (illustrated pl. 23).
    The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso's Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture: The Final Years, 1970-1973, San Francisco, 2004, no. 71-176 (illustrated p. 169).


    Avignon, Palais de Papes, Exposition Picasso: 201 Peintures 1970-72, May - September 1973, no. 59, p. 72 (illustrated, titled 'Homme assis').