Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Tête

Details
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête
painted sheet metal
10¾ x 9¼ x 3 1/8 in. (27.3 x 23.5 x 8 cm.)
Executed in 1961; this work is unique
Provenance
The artist's estate.
Marina Picasso, Paris, by descent from the above.
Galerie Jan Krugier, Ditesheim & Cie., Geneva.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 2005.
Literature
W. Spies, exh. cat., Picasso: Das plastische Werk, Berlin & Dusseldorf, 1983, no. 610A-2, p. 401 (illustrated p. 367).
W. Spies, Picasso: The Sculptures, Ostfildern & Stuttgart, 2000, no. 610A-2, p. 421 (illustrated p. 389).
Exhibited
Schwerin, Staatliches Museum, Pablo Picasso: Der Reiz der Fläche, July - September 1999, no. 47, p. 124 (illustrated p. 125).
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.
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Lot Essay

Executed in 1961, te is rendered from a single piece of folded, white painted sheet metal, onto which a series of striking black lines outline the minimal features of a face. One of a series of works in which Picasso designed paper maquettes, which were then recreated exactly into sheet metal, te dates from one of the most prolific phases of sculptural activity in the artist’s career. From heads and profiles of his great love and muse, Jacqueline, to animals and objects, between 1960 and 1961, Picasso made over 100 of these playful, experimental and personal works, which he treasured and seldom sold during his lifetime. 

Picasso had first experimented with the readily available, commercial material, sheet metal in 1954, however it was not until 1960 that he turned his full attention to this material, encouraged by an enthusiastic entrepreneur, Lionel Prejger. In 1960, Prejger acquired the Société Tritub, a sheet metal factory in Vallauris. Picasso had worked with this factory previously and knew one of the technicians there, Joseph-Marius Tiola. One day in November of this year, Prejger, already an acquaintance of Picasso, showed him the industrial metal tubes that the site produced; the artist was enthralled and immediately asked that they collaborate and he was once more united with his skilled collaborator, Tiola. A period of explosive creativity followed, as Picasso cut and folded paper or cardboard maquettes, which were quickly replicated exactly in thin sheet metal and presented to the artist the next day when he would often add painted details. Prejger recalled of this highly creative period, ‘When Picasso invented this new kind of sculpture… he did not hunt for old models but designed and cut out new paper shapes every day, in such quantity that it was hard to keep up with him. Yet on each occasion when I brought along the work executed on the previous day he was surprised and happy to see, in a tangible form, the silhouettes that had been no more than fragile bits of paper quivering at the slightest breath of air’ (L. Prejger, ‘Picasso cuts out iron’, in M. McCully, ed., A Picasso Anthology: Documents, Criticism, Reminiscences, Princeton, 1981, p. 259).  

In contrast to the more robust and three-dimensional assemblages that Picasso had been working on in the late 1950s, te and the sheet metal sculptures of the early 1960s were flat rather than modelled, and predominantly frontal, with planar surfaces. In te, the piece of metal is folded twice to create three vertical planes onto which the stylised features of the face are painted. Scored into the surface of the metal is the just visible, curving silhouette of the head and neck, which creates the slightest hint of three-dimensionality in this resolutely flat sculpture. The folded planes likewise create a play of light and shade across the sculpture, imparting a sense of volume and relief to the flat planes of the sculpture. When te is viewed from varying angles, the viewer is presented with a shifting perception of the face and profile. Taking a traditionally three-dimensional object and rendering it in two-dimensional form, Picasso once more pushed the limits of representation, defying the boundaries of the medium to create a compelling and striking work.

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