In 1968, when Picasso was eighty-six years old, a period (from March 16 to October 5) of enormous activity in terms of engraving began again; The result is the creation of three hundred and forty-seven works in two hundred and four days of activity, in which he engraved up to seven copper plates in a single day. The series of The Painter at Work and La Celestina, the last book illustrated by Picasso, correspond to this stage, whose autobiographical tendency has always been insisted upon.
The series of 347 engravings was made by the artist from Malaga between March 16 and October 8, 1968, already in his old age, constituting the largest set of individual engravings in the series made throughout the life of he. Dedicated to his great friend Jaime Sabartés, Picasso did not name it although he did name the engravings individually. It was shown to the general public for the first time in 1970 at the ‘Gallerie Louis Leiris’ in Paris and later at the ‘Art Institute of Chicago’.
For its realization, Picasso counted on the engraving brothers Aldo and Piero Crommelynck, who established an etching recording workshop near Picasso’s residence in Mougins, where Picasso experimented with the possibilities of a process that had fascinated him, combining different techniques. in etching and aquatint with resins and sugar as well as with drypoint, achieving great virtuosity and a conceptual ‘reinvention’, already initiated with the two-dimensional nature of cubism, through the mastery of ink and synthesis in black and white, in all types of dimensions and sizes.
It is a series full of eroticism, in which the world of voyeurism even appears through characters inserted in the engravings, which made sexually explicit engravings in a city like Paris, in a mentally open society like France. were exhibited in closed private rooms, only accessible to adults after warning the public of what they would find there.
(Source: Patio Herreriano Museum of Contemporary Spanish Art)
Picasso’s transcendence does not end in the founding of Cubism, a revolutionary trend that definitively broke with traditional representation by eliminating perspective and a single point of view. Throughout his long career, Pablo Picasso incessantly explored new paths and influenced all facets of 20th century art, embodying like no other the restlessness and receptivity of the contemporary artist.
Son of the artist José Ruiz Blasco, in 1895 he moved with his family to Barcelona, where the young painter surrounded himself with a group of artists and writers, including the painters Ramón Casas and Santiago Rusiñol, with whom he used to meet. at the Els Quatre Gats bar. Between 1901 and 1904, Pablo Picasso alternated his residence between Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, while his painting entered the stage called the blue period, strongly influenced by symbolism. In the spring of 1904, Picasso decided to move permanently to Paris and settle in a studio on the banks of the Seine.
At the end of 1906, Pablo Picasso began working on a large-format composition that would change the course of 20th century art: Les demoiselles d’Avignon. Numerous influences came together in this masterpiece, the main ones being African and Iberian art and elements taken from El Greco and Cézanne. Under the constant influence of the latter, and in the company of another young painter, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso delved into a review of much of the plastic heritage in force since the Renaissance, especially in the field of pictorial representation of volume. The geometric plots eliminate spatial depth and introduce time as a dimension by simultaneously combining various points of view: it was the beginning of cubism.
In 1912 they introduced an element of flexibility in the form of paper cuts and other materials directly applied to the canvas, a technique they called collage. The admission into the exclusive circle of Cubism of the Spanish painter Juan Gris led to the synthetic stage of said style, marked by a richer chromatic range and material and referential multiplicity.
Between 1915 and the mid-1920s, Picasso abandoned the rigors of Cubism to enter a new figurative period, within the framework of a reunion between classicism and the growing influence of what the artist called his “”Mediterranean origins.”” He began to be interested in sculpture following his meeting in 1928 with the Catalan artist Julio González; Between them they introduced important innovations, such as the use of wrought iron.
The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, a prelude to the Second World War, pushed him to greater political awareness, the result of which is one of his most universally admired works, the large mural Guernica (1937). The reduction to a minimum of the chromaticism, the disjointedness of the figures and their heartbreaking symbolism make up an impressive denunciation of the bombing by the German aircraft, which on April 26, 1937 devastated this Basque town in an action to support the troops of the coup general Francisco Frank.
In the 1950s he made numerous series on great classic works of painting, which he reinterpreted as a tribute. In 1960, already a legend in life and the epitome of the avant-garde, the artist retired to the Chateau de Vouvenargues, where the creator continued working tirelessly until the day of his death.