PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Deux danseurs

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Deux danseurs
signed 'Picasso' (upper right)
pen and ink on paper
24 5/8 x 18 7/8 in. (62.7 x 48 cm.)
Executed in 1925
Bouquinerie de l’Institut [Marc Lebouc], Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the late 1990s.
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.
Further details
Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

Following the end of the First World War, artists across Europe called for le rappel à l’ordre — the ‘return to order’ — summoning a revival of the arts of antiquity and the classical traditions. It was then that Picasso settled even more into his Neoclassical style, visible in both the subject matter and technical handling of his inter-war works, a dramatic shift from the harsh geometry of his Cubist period. The influences on Picasso’s Neoclassical period were many. In 1917, he visited Italy for the first time, meeting in Rome his future wife, the ballet-dancer Olga Khokhlova, when she was performing in one of Sergei Diaghilev’s famed ballets. Enchanted by the classical statuary, ancient ruins and frescos of Italy, Picasso returned to Paris, whereupon he frequented the corridors of the city’s greatest museums, drawing inspiration from Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Nicolas Poussin in particular.

By the mid-1920’s, Picasso had known and worked with Diaghilev for many years, designing sets and costumes for his Ballet Russes between 1917 and 1924, including some of the most important in the company's repertoire: Parade, Le Tricorne and Le Train bleu. Executed in 1925, Deux danseurs emanates from a series of works from this period in which Picasso depicts a host of dancers, musicians and popular entertainers, all the while emulating the graceful handling and classical principles of the French Old Masters. Beginning with a series of meticulously detailed drawings, over the years that followed, Picasso adopted an astonishing array of works in an eclectic, explicit and determinedly self-conscious display of artistic virtuosity, invention and, perhaps most importantly, independence.

With taut, outstretched limbs frozen in dramatic arrangement, the architecture of the present work points towards Poussin’s use of compositional diagonals, around which he orchestrated his triumphant Baroque paintings. And yet, Picasso conjures his electric, Poussin-esque snapshot of two figures mid-dance with Modernist economy of means, using just a few lines of meandering ink. Deux danseurs, and the series to which it belongs, demonstrates an alliance between the artist’s assured handling of medium and the supple strength of the figures it portrays. In both subject matter and technique, the present work is an apogeic example of Picasso’s new era as a draughtsman.

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