Picasso has guided us away from the era of academy style painting and to revolt against conservatism to march toward a brand new path...Picasso's deconstruction is merely just the first step.
--Sanyu, Parisian Libere, 1945.01.19
An indomitable genius, who shaped much of 20th-century European art, Picasso entered old age armed with bursting creative force and limitless inventiveness. In 1969-the year Tête d'homme was executed-the artist was eighty-eight years old. Yet, his paintings and drawings were still animated by pulsating energy, vivid colours and daring lines. In Tête d'homme, Picasso imagined the comical face of a man. Drawn from a system of parallel lines and a few strokes of felt-tip pen, the drawing is a vivid example of Picasso's legendary graphic dexterity and cheerful inventions. The particular technique of the drawing resonates with the way Vincent van Gogh had portrayed himself with hatched brushstrokes decades earlier. References to other great painters are not unusual in Picasso's late work: having established his place in the history of art, Picasso could now play with it. He freely borrowed from the art of his predecessors and colleagues, turning elements from their work into new, exuberant inventions.
Picasso inscribed the precise date of execution of Tête d'homme on the sheet:'22.6.69.'.He had worked on similar heads a month earlier and continued to do so throughout the summer. With broad noses, small playful eyes and curly beards, these heads were part of a lager set of characters Picasso had welcomed into his works in the 1960s and 1970s: the'musketeers'. A reference to the work of Old Master painters he admired, such as Rembrandt, the musketeer became a sort of alter ego for Picasso. Lustful, rambunctious and often smoking pipes they roamed his canvases and drawings, keeping death at bay and embodying the artist's creative vitality. Displaying Picasso's graphic talent, Tête d'homme adds a new face to the series of comical characters that, at the end of Picasso's career, animated the last, great chapter in the master's epic life.