From the first to the last, Picasso’s prime subject was the human figure and portraiture. His earliest portraits were done from life and reveal a precocious ability to catch likeness and suggest character and state of mind. By 1900, Picasso was producing portraits of astonishing variety and thereafter they reflected the full range of his innovative styles – symbolist, cubist, neoclassical, surrealist, expressionist.
Treating favourite Old Masters as indecorously as his intimate friends, he enjoyed caricaturing them and indulging in fantasies about their sex lives that mirrored his own obsession with the interaction of eroticism and creativity. When Picasso depicted people in his intimate circle, the nature of his bond with them inevitably influenced his interpretation.
The focus of this book is his creative process, and, although following a broadly chronological path, its chapters are structured thematically. Issues addressed in depth include Picasso’s exploitation of familiar poses and formats, his sources of inspiration and identification with favourite Old Masters, the role of caricature in his expressive conception of portraiture, the relationship between observation, memory and fantasy, critical differences between his portrayal of men and women, and the motivation behind his defiance of decorum and the extreme transformation of his sitter’s appearance.
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Author: Elizabeth Cowling
Imprints: Thames & Hudson
Binding: Hard Bound
Category: Artist Monographs
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