PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
2 More
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
5 More
Where Christie’s has provided a Minimum Price Guar… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE YOAV HARLAP COLLECTION
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Homme au chapeau

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Homme au chapeau
signed ‘Picasso’ (centre left); dated and numbered ‘’ (on the reverse)
oil and ripolin on canvas
91.4 x 64.8 cm. (36 x 25 1⁄2 in.)
Painted on 11-18 December 1964
A gift from the artist to a family member, and thence by descent
Private collection, by whom acquired in the 1980s
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2012

Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work
D. Buchhart and A. Hofbauer, Basquiat by Himself, Munich, 2019 (illustrated).
Special notice
Where Christie’s has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie’s therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party who agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. If there are no other higher bids, the third party commits to buy the lot at the level of their irrevocable written bid. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. Lots which are subject to a third party guarantee arrangement are identified in the catalogue.

Brought to you by

Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡) Senior Vice President, Deputy Head of Department

Lot Essay

“Picasso is often heard to say that when he paints, all the painters are with him in the studio. Or rather behind him. Watching him. Those of yesterday, and those of today… A painter in solitude is never alone.”
Hélène Parmelin (Picasso Says…, trans. C. Trollope, London, 1969, p. 40)

Pablo Picasso painted Homme au chapeau between 11 and 18 December 1964, in the midst of an exceptionally productive period of artistic creation. During the last three months of 1964, Picasso painted a torrent of works that centred around the theme that had preoccupied him since the previous year, the artist and his model. Picturing this pair, Picasso also focused on the painter alone, pictured as a youthful male figure, often depicted in a striped shirt, or with a straw hat, as in the present work. Painted with thick, luscious and gestural brushstrokes of both oil and ripolin, an industrial paint that creates rich swathes of impasto, Homme au chapeau embodies the impulsive, immediate style of Picasso’s late work. As the artist reached the final decade of his life, he felt an overwhelming desire to counter the inexorable passage of time through the act of painting itself, leading the artist to work with an astonishing speed and urgency. Never before seen at auction, the present work was presented as a gift by the artist to a member of his family. It subsequently remained in this family collection until the 1980s.

These heads and busts of men and boys suddenly abounded at this time, in part, perhaps, due to a desire by the artist to capture the spirit of youth and vitality that is encapsulated by these male figures. Each male figure is different: some sport the artist’s beloved and signature Breton shirts, others, such as the present work, show the figure adorned with a straw hat, an ode perhaps to Vincent van Gogh. Yet, this fraternity of painters is united through their painterly portrayal, all appearing frontally, their intense, solemn gaze not only a reflection of the artist’s lifelong identity as an artist, but the result perhaps of his contemplation on his own legacy. In the present work, the youthful male figure gazes directly from the picture plane, his large, dark, wideeyed stare reminiscent of Picasso’s own, infamous mirada fuerte.

From his early career, Picasso engaged in self-portraiture which initially took a traditional form, a means to assert his artistic identity as he forged his path as an artist, exploring varying artistic principles. Increasingly, Picasso began to take the form of artistic avatars which he used which to portray his own identity. His image began to shapeshift, taking the form of the tragicomic Harlequin, then the infamous minotaure or the playful faun, later followed by the brawny Mediterranean sailor, the iconic painter and ultimately, the swashbuckling musketeer. These characters would become the artistic stands-ins through which Picasso presented himself to the world, investigating his artistic identity, projecting his inherent sense of masculinity and indulging his performative, chameleonic nature.

Wearing a distinctive straw hat, Homme au chapeau is a testament to Picasso’s deep affiliation at this time with Van Gogh. This type of hat has become synonymous with the Dutch artist, featuring in a number of his self-portraits to express his deep kinship with peasants and laborers. From the summer of 1963 onwards, this motif began to appear in Picasso’s work, appearing in his depictions of painters and male figures. Unlike other Old Masters, Velázquez, Delacroix, or Manet for example, whom Picasso faced up to directly, taking their paintings and redoing them in his own, inimitable style, Van Gogh held a less evident, but more powerful importance for the artist, who felt a strong spiritual connection to the quintessential peintre maudit. He was for Picasso, “an explosive spirit lurking in the depths of Picasso’s psyche,” and the artist supposedly projected one of Van Gogh’s self-portraits from floor to ceiling on one of the walls of his studio (Late Picasso, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 34).

Picasso’s biographer, John Richardson, wrote of Picasso’s adoration of Van Gogh at this time, “Picasso wanted to galvanize his paint surface...with some of the Dutchman’s Dionysian fervor. It worked. The surface of the late paintings has a freedom, a plasticity, that was never there before: they are more spontaneous, more expressive and more instinctive, than virtually all his previous work” (ibid., p. 34). With its dynamic surface filled with gestural, impassioned brushstrokes, Homme au chapeau encapsulates this painterly style. Unlike the concurrent depictions of male figures at this time, in which Picasso reduced his compositions down to their barest components, rendering the human form with a series of interlocking lines and signs, in the present work, the artist has portrayed this solitary boy with a more naturalistic quality. While rapid gestures demarcate the white and blue stripes of his shirt, his face is composed with a more sensitive form of tonal modeling that lends the figure a certain innocence and poignancy, as if Picasso was attempting to turn back time and recapture, with brush and paint, his own youth.

Just as Picasso looked to Van Gogh, contemporary artists such as George Condo and Jean-Michel Basquiat have looked to Picasso and continue to do so to the present day, absorbing the influence of his indomitable portraits and avatars into their own visual languages. Basquiat’s Self-Portrait from 1984, also from the Yoav Harlap Collection, appears in particularly magnificent synergy alongside Homme au chapeau, the younger artist harnessing the same power of self-portraiture in the wake of Picasso’s legacy in his own frontal self-portrait, imbuing it with his own distinctive personal style and asserting his own identity to continue the legacy of greatness.

More from 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale

View All
View All