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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Tête d'homme barbu

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête d'homme barbu
signed 'Picasso' (lower right); dated and numbered '' (lower left)
coloured wax crayon on paper
25¾ x 19¾ in. (65.4 x 50.2 cm.)
Executed in May 1964
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (no. 011025).
International Galleries, Chicago (no. 5567).
Richard Feigen Gallery, New York.
Joe Greenebaum, Chicago, by whom acquired from the above.
Private collection, United States, by whom acquired from the above in the early 1960s; sale, Christie's, New York, 7 November 2007, lot 199. Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, oeuvres de 1964, vol. 24, Paris, 1971, no. 152 (illustrated pl. 56).
The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, A Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue 1885-1973, The Sixties II 1964-1967, San Francisco, 2002, no. 64-163 (illustrated p. 50).
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Giovanna Bertazzoni
Giovanna Bertazzoni

Lot Essay

In May 1964, Picasso began a series of paintings and drawings of mens' heads, first in profile, and later seen frontally or in three-quarter view. The subjects range from young and virile men in their prime, frequently unshaven and sometimes smoking or wearing a workman's cap, to older men who with their bald heads and grizzled appearance resemble the artist. Invariably, they are clad in a blue and white striped fisherman's vest.

As photographs of Picasso reveal, the artist frequently wore a similarly striped vest. In 1964, when Picasso was eighty-three years old, he seemed to embark on an intense reimagining of himself at various stations in his long life and varied career. He would portray himself as we see him here, in profile and looking somewhat disheveled, or he would identify himself with the tough, vigorous workmen who feature elsewhere in this series. Young or old, the subject is endowed with Picasso's own famously powerful gaze. In this series of portraits Picasso appropriates his subjects' character and qualities, and absorbs these bold and sometimes contradictory elements into his own complex persona.

While Picasso's wife Jacqueline was the artist's chief model in his last years, the male figures in Picasso's late work have more varied sources. They are often an alternate representation of the artist himself, or they may be figures from fictional sources, such as the mousquetaires, or artists brought back to life, like Rembrandt or Degas.

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