Please note the additional provenance for this lot:
Pierre and Francois Hugo, Aix en Provence.
Galerie Dimeo, Paris (acquired from the above in 1977).
Mrs. Arnold Katsen, New York.
Acquired by the previous owner, 2000.
Pablo Picasso first became involved with ceramics in 1946 while living in the south of France. There he met Suzanne and Georges Ramié, local ceramicists who invited him to work at their Madoura workshop in the town of Vallauris. Picasso eventually produced over 3,000 ceramics, many of which treated his familiar themes of the female figure, the bull and other animal forms.
In 1956, he was working on a series of ceramic platters that featured schematized faces, which he had boldly sculpted or gouged out of damp clay and then imprinted with unexpected textures like cardboard, wicker or mesh. While looking over these dishes, a friend recalls, "The objects themselves gradually directed our thoughts and conversation towards the opulently chased gold and silver platters and dishes of the 16th and 17th centuries, made in France, or Augsburg or Venice, many of which were designed by famous artists. A few moments later Picasso interjected that he himself had thought how splendid his own platters would look if they were carried out in silver" (quoted in D. Cooper, Picasso 19 plats en argent par François et Pierre Hugo, Paris, 1977, n.p.). Soon thereafter he embarked on a collaboration with famed metalsmith François Victor-Hugo, who transformed his wishes into a glimmering reality.
For this process, Picasso turned over a series of biscuit platters to Hugo who used them to create molds. Hugo then carefully hammered thin sheets of silver into these dies to capture every nuance of texture and form. This meticulous repoussé technique and the use of precious metal recall the work of traditional craftsmen, as Picasso had intended. However, he also slyly undermines these connotations by inserting roughly modeled forms and humorous faces. Picasso strove to interject new life and vitality into the decorative arts and this series of silver platters is a superb testament to his ability to transform a traditional art form.