During the 1920s Picasso painted Cubist and classical pictures side-by- side, leading many to believe that he and his dealer Paul Rosenberg were cynically exploiting public taste. Others saw no reason why one style should exclude the other. Michael FitzGerald has written:
As Picasso said in a 1923 interview, his different styles were not exclusive phases in an evolutionary process but alternatives from which he selected according to his expressive goals. His response to the succession of styles that defines the common conception of avant-garde art before World War I a situation characterized by multiplicity, where the past as well as the present and the imagined future could be explored (in Making Modernism: Picasso and the Creation of the Market for Twentieth Century Art, New York, 1995, p. 130).
Rosenberg, who had shown Picasso's work in both styles in alternating exhibitions, opened a major exhibition of Cubist work in June 1926. It included paintings from 1919, the year of Picasso's first show with Rosenberg, to his most recent work of 1926. "These pictures covered the period of Picasso's Neoclassicism with only the slightest acknowledgement of its existence. The choice suggested that Picasso had always been a Cubist and that he continued to take the style to further height" (ibid., p. 159). By the mid 1920s another current was emerging in Picasso's work and began to supplant the classical influence the artist had taken from Ingres, Renoir and Italian Mannerism. Instead of the closed, compacted and overlapping shapes of his earlier Synthetic Cubist compositions, the forms here are more open, and reflect a freer, more gestural approach to drawing shapes.
A new more sensual style began to appear Picasso's oeuvre, a direct result of the artist's new love interest. In January 1927, Picasso met the voluptuous young blond, Marie-Thérèse Walter and embarked upon a joyous new relationship which would transform his work. Corbeille aux fruits prefigures Picasso's still-lifes of 1931 which "declare the sensuality and joy of his love for Marie-Thérèse. All contain a round pitcher, a compote, and fruit, which predictably suggest the generosity and fertility of his young mistress" (J. S. Boggs, Picasso and Things, exh. cat., The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1992, p. 231).
The vitality of Corbeille de fruits also anticipates Picasso's later nude portraits of his muse. The intense yellow of the fruit echoes the color of Marie-Thérèse's hair and the roundness of its forms echoes the curves of her figure. The entire composition bursts from its picture plane in a symphony of colors and erotic energy becoming a pictorial metaphor of the youthfulness of the artist's inspiration.