Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF SIMONE AND JEAN TIROCHE
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Buste d'homme à la pipe

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Buste d'homme à la pipe
signed and dated '27.2.69.I Picasso' (upper left)
oil on corrugated cardboard laid down on panel
37 5/8 x 25½ in. (95.5 x 64.7 cm.)
Painted in 1969
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist.
Galerie Cahiers d'Art [Christian Zervos], Paris, by whom acquired from the above.
Private collection, France, by whom acquired from the above on 23 July 1969; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 5 November 2003, lot 58.
Acquired at the above sale, and thence by descent to the present owners.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1969, vol. 31, Paris, 1976, no. 85 (illustrated pl. 27).
P.G. Persin, Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler, Paris, 1990, p. 235 (illustrated).
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, The Sixties III, 1968-1969, San Francisco, 2003, no. 69-080, p. 113 (illustrated).
'Alte und Neue Kunst im Dialog', in Weltkunst, 9 September 2004 (illustrated p. 8 & on the cover).
E. Mallen, ed., Online Picasso Project, Sam Houston State University, OPP.69:105 (accessed 2013).
Høvikodden, Norway, Sonja Henies og Niels Onstads Kunstsentret, Picasso Visits Norway, 1992, no. 21.
Salzburg, Galerie Salis & Vertes, Festspielausstellung, June - July 2004, no. 30 (illustrated).
Istanbul, Portakal Culture House, Masters of the West, December 2004 - January 2005, p. 57 (illustrated).
Salzburg, Galerie Salis & Vertes, Modern Masters, August 2007 (illustrated pl. 35).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1969, Buste d'homme à la pipe forms part of the surge of creativity that marked Picasso's career during that impressive year. During the course of 1969, Picasso showed such an unabated hunger to create that he painted, etched and drew works enough to merit their own volume of the catalogue raisonné. Picasso created works in which a fantastic range of characters jostled and vied for attention, many of them emerging from imaginary pasts, be it the Seventeenth Century of the musketeers or the South of France of Vincent van Gogh. In Buste d'homme à la pipe, against a rich backdrop of vibrant orange, a man is shown smoking a pipe. The traces of his ruffled collar, the buttons of his jacket and what appears to be a floppy hat are all visible above and below a distilled face, rendered through an elegant short-hand accumulation of signs. These appear in a range of variations in other works: the vertical blue rhomboids that form the man's eyes are shown crowned by eyebrows, stacked next to the nose, shown in dramatic profile.

Picasso had painted a range of historical figures throughout his life, but they truly gained critical mass during the mid-1960s, when he began to depict musketeers. He had been inspired by the pictures of Rembrandt as well as Les trois mousquetaires of Alexandre Dumas. Now, cavalier characters flagrantly and provocatively at odds with the subject matter of other painters in the late 1960s emerged jauntily in a string of images created by Picasso. Buste d'homme à la pipe appears to be an evolution of the theme of the smoking musketeer, which had occupied Picasso repeatedly during 1968 in particular. These works also relate to Picasso's images of the artist, often shown with his model. This was a theme that occupied Picasso throughout his life, yet which blossomed in a series of variations from the 1960s. In those works, Picasso created a range of images in which the face of the painter was sometimes reduced to the barest essentials, for instance a zig-zagging form to delineate the eyes or nose, as is the case here. Meanwhile, the brush held by the painter appears to have transmogrified into the pipe, while the character before us smokes contemplatively, as though emerging from some Dutch Old Master.

While Picasso was clearly looking backwards towards the canon of the past in creating this image, he has nonetheless used traditional themes and motifs as a foil for his own bold experimentation. Looking at the surface of Buste d'homme à la pipe, a range of gestures are vividly apparent, made palpable by the frenzied brushwork as Picasso has frantically rendered hair, ruff or frills through a range of bold, vigorous marks. This is a form of action painting, the artist's own gestures viscerally apparent on the picture surface, belying his age as this whirlwind of activity coalesces into the image of this bygone cavalier, who appears to be a vicarious substitute for Picasso himself. He is envisaging this playful dandy, projecting himself into his life, channelling his hunger and his appetites through his pictures and through his brush.

In Buste d'homme à la pipe, the sheer bravura of Picasso's painting of this striking quasi-historical figure is in strong evidence. Even the medium sees the artist striking out against tradition. Here, the noble figure of portraits of the past has been captured on corrugated cardboard, a surface which was unknown in the centuries inhabited by musketeers and their like. For Picasso, it was doubtless in part the irreverence of selecting a medium that was unknown in the age of panels and canvases that spurred him on. Yet Picasso's constant inventiveness also responded to the cardboard itself: he would create a number of images on this support. In Buste d'homme à la pipe he has clearly revelled in the effects that this support grants him, using the undulations of the surface to accentuate some of the areas of paint, while also highlighting his bold brushwork. Where Picasso has applied the brush more lightly, he has achieved a striped effect that adds to the sense of texture of the picture - and indeed of the subject's vestments. Elsewhere, for instance in the glowing background, the artist has clearly coloured the surface with more emphasis, allowing it to become more uniform, although the swirling brushwork there adds to the sense of a nebulous sfumato background only too appropriate to a picture of a smoking man.

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