PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
4 More
Always in Style: Property from the Collection of Herbert Kasper
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Homme à la guitare

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Homme à la guitare
signed 'Picasso' (lower right)
gouache, brush and India ink and pencil on paper
11 ¼ x 9 ½ in. (31 x 24.1 cm.)
Executed in Paris in winter 1912-1913
(possibly) Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris.
Valentine Gallery (Valentine Dudensing), New York.
Walter P. Chrysler Jr., New York (by 1937).
Jane Wade Ltd., New York.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 20 November 1964).
Dr. Robert Kabcenell, New York (acquired from the above, 22 March 1968).
Anon. sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, 2 May 1974, lot 113.
Dunkelman Gallery, Toronto.
Private collection, Toronto.
Lynn Epsteen, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, by 2008.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1942, vol. 2**, no. 379 (illustrated, pl. 184).
F. Minervino, L’opera completa di Picasso Cubista, Milan, 1972, p. 114, no. 551 (illustrated).
R. Rosenblum, "Picasso and the Typography of Cubism" in Picasso in Retrospect, New York, 1973, pp. 52-53 (illustrated, p. 53, fig. 73).
P. Daix and J. Rosselet, Picasso: The Cubist Years, 1907-1916: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings and Related Works, London, 1979, p. 296, no. 562 (illustrated).
New York, Valentine Gallery (Valentine Dudensing), Drawings, Gouaches and Pastels by Picasso, April 1937, no. 31 (titled Interior and dated 1916).
Detroit Institute of Arts, Selected Exhibition of the Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. Collection, October 1937, p. 21, no. 101 (titled Interior and dated 1916).
Arts Club of Chicago, Drawings by Pablo Picasso Loaned by Mr. Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., January 1939, no. 4.
San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, Seven Centuries of Painting, A Loan Exhibition of Old and Modern Masters, December 1939-January 1940, p. 54, no. 195 (titled Interior and dated 1916).
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., January-May 1941, p. 121, no. 218 (titled Interior and dated 1916).
New York, The Morgan Library & Museum, Mannerism and Modernism: The Kasper Collection of Drawings and Photographs, January-May 2011, p. 122, no. 45 (illustrated in color, p. 123).

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Pablo Picasso’s Homme à la guitare dates from a pivotal moment in the intensely creative, radical and iconoclastic years of the artist’s cubist adventure. Picasso created this work in the winter of 1912-1913, the end of a year that had seen the artist, together with his cubist comrade, Georges Braque, overturn yet again the centuries-old concept of an artwork. Over the course of these twelve months, the artists had invented the papier collé and had begun to create cubist constructions and assemblages, ushering in a whole new way of composing and constructing a picture. These innovations precipitated the leap from Analytical to Synthetic Cubism; from hermetic, monochrome, inscrutable canvases to works that not only reintegrated color as a formal characteristic, but introduced real life into the art work itself, in the form of pasted papers—newspapers, wallpapers, and printed ephemera—as well as found objects.
Homme à la guitare is a small yet complex work that reflects and illuminates many of these artistic developments. Presenting one of Picasso’s perennial cubist motifs—the man with a guitar—it shows the breadth of the devices that the artist employed in his form of Synthetic Cubism. The geometric, flat planes of color create the structure of the composition—a technique clearly born from his papier collés. In addition, Picasso has depicted the surrounding interior space that this man occupies with a new pictorial device: the wall panelling painted in imitation marble. Picasso continued this trope in a closely related work now housed in the Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, Femme à la guitare (Zervos, vol. 2**, no. 380). The heart of the composition is rendered with a deftly simplified linear configuration, the pencil lines demarcating the protagonist, his violin, and top-hatted head. To his left is emblazoned an advertisement: “CE SOIR GRAN[D] CONC[ERT],” this typography from popular posters of the time a quintessential motif of Synthetic Cubism.
This is the final and most complex of a small series of closely related works that Picasso made at the close of this revolutionary year (Zervos, vol. 28, nos. 238-242). In each of these, Picasso plays with the same formal structure, each time adding compositional aspects that, in a remarkable show of artistic skill, paradoxically serve to simplify and distil the composition. The present work and accompanying series have two direct precedents executed around the same time: Homme au violon (Zervos, vol. 2**, no. 399; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Tête dhomme au chapeau (Zervos, vol. 2**, no. 398; The Museum of Modern Art, New York).
In these two papier collés, Picasso constructed the structural composition of the male figure, his body and face in each respective work, with a combination of pasted papers and linear outlines. Picasso has utilized the same forms for the figure’s face in the present work: the two lines that appear like the number “7” derive from the simplified sign that the artist used to demarcate the man’s profile—his brow, eyes, nose and mouth—all rendered with this impressively simple shape. Likewise, the origin of the two semi-circles in the present work—one filled in with black gouache, the other a pencil outline—can be traced back to these works, this form used to denotate a more volumetric depiction of his face as well as the guitar in the center.
Homme à la guitare also demonstrates the playful, often sometimes ribald nature of Picasso’s papier collés. These works introduced a novel sense of humor into the seemingly cerebral cubist movement, as both artists entered into private pictorial jokes with one another, using puns and word play that add another layer of artistic aptitude to these works. Robert Rosenblum has explored the meaning of the typography and words that intersect Picasso’s compositions of this time, including the present work (op. cit., 1973, p. 53). In this composition, Picasso has cropped the concert advertisement poster in such a way that it reads, “CE SOIR GRAN CON,” thereby taking on another meaning as this also reads as a popular French insult. Clearly pleased with this double meaning, he reused this motif in another work the following year (Guitare et bouteille, Philadelphia Museum of Art).
The present work was formerly in the legendary collection of the American industrialist and philanthropist, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. The son of the Chrysler Corporation founder, Chrysler had begun to collect art at a young age. His dedication to art was reflected both in his influential activities on the behalf of the fledgling Museum of Modern Art in New York and in his legacy to the museum that bears his own name in Norfolk, Virginia. After graduating from Dartmouth College, Chrysler traveled around Europe where he met Picasso, Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, and Henri Matisse, among many others. He collected objects ranging from stamps to glass as well as Old Master paintings, but much of his impetus went into collecting the works of Impressionist and Modern masters, including Picasso’s Homme à la guitare.

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