PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Tête d'homme barbu à la cigarette

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Tête d'homme barbu à la cigarette
signed, dated and numbered 'Picasso 18.5.64. IV' (lower right)
colored wax crayons on paper
26 x 20 in. (66 x 50.6 cm.)
Drawn on 18 May 1964
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.
Dr. and Mrs. Philip Falk, Chicago (by 1973).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 16 November 1989, lot 251.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1971, vol. 24, no. 159 (illustrated, pl. 58).
Amsterdam, Galerie D'eendt, Pablo Picasso, 1965, no. 14.
Chicago, R.S. Johnson-International Gallery, Continental Watercolors and Drawings, 1880-1965, May-June 1966, p. 16, no. 38 (illustrated in color; titled Le Fumeur IV).
Chicago, R.S. Johnson-International Gallery, Picasso Drawings, 1961-1968, fall 1968, p. 17, no. 13 (illustrated in color; titled Le Fumeur IV).
Chicago, R.S. Johnson-International Gallery, Homage to Picasso, 1973, p. 60, no. 20 (illustrated in color, p. 22; titled Le Fumeur IV).

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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 te d'homme barbu à la cigarette belongs to a series of bust-length male portraits executed in 1964, when the artist was eighty-three years old. This group include a wide range of men, both young and old, bald and bearded. The subjects are united, however, by their attire: they all wear blue-and-white cotton shirts known as marinières. These iconic striped tops, first worn by sailors of the French Navy in the mid-nineteenth century, were primarily associated with the seamen of Brittany on the northwest coast of France, and are thus known as Breton shirts. Picasso famously assumed the striped sailor shirt as a uniform in the latter half of his life, relishing its informality and its invocation of the sea.
Picasso returned to the sea regularly throughout his long life. The artist was born in the Spanish port town, Málaga, which was located on the Costa del Sol of the Mediterranean; he then trained as a painter in the coastal city of Barcelona. Picasso later frequented the Côte d’Azur, attracted to its warmth and color. He would spend his final years in the villa Notre-Dame-de-Vie in Mougins, near the beaches of Cannes. It was there that he initiated his series of male heads wearing striped sailor shirts.
Tête d'homme barbu à la cigarette features a signature motif of the series: a bearded man smoking a thin cigarette. This work demonstrates Picasso’s lifelong, playful pursuit of abstraction and his continued willingness to distort reality by rearranging parts of his subject’s face. The titular man’s ears, mouth, and exaggeratedly large nose are seen in profile, for example, while his off-kilter eyes are rendered frontally. His hair is a frenzy of elliptical and zigzagging lines, and his animated expression is further enlivened by bursts of bright color: sunny yellow, lime green, sky blue, and purple. Despite the twisted perspective of his face, this homme possesses a brutish charm; his grizzled countenance might be compared to a marble bust of a Roman army general. Indeed, Picasso was forever playing with the boundaries between beauty and ugliness, classicism and modernity.
Throughout his career, Picasso was attracted to the simplicity of crayons, which enabled him to quite literally draw with color. Comprised of pigment mixed with wax and rolled into sticks, these crayons resembled the paper-wrapped cigarettes that Picasso himself smoked for much of his life—though he would soon be forced to quit, around the time he underwent surgery for an ulcer in 1965.
Picasso’s own identification with the smoking sailor has been the subject of much critical debate; he assumed the striped-shirt guise in a few paintings from the 1930s and 1940s, which he later described as self-portraits. By 1964, however, Picasso was in his mid-eighties. Now nearly bald, clean shaven and—according to art historian John Richardson—sexually impotent, he bore little physical resemblance to the vigorous, unkempt man depicted in the present work. Moreover, by this stage of his career, Picasso was hardly a working-class sailor; he was an international celebrity and the subject of several major retrospective exhibitions, who enjoyed the financial rewards of his enormous commercial success.
Still, Picasso was personally drawn to the masculine archetype of the maritime warrior, who he endowed with a fierce expression and a potent erotic energy. In the words of the critic Leo Steinberg, “It seems to me that such figures are often best understood as bodies which the artist's imagination seeks to inhabit” (“Picasso’s Endgame” in October 74, 1995, p. 108). This subject proved to be a popular one: it was exhibited multiple times to public audiences in Amsterdam and Chicago during the artist’s lifetime.

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