See also : Painting Sculpture Bust The Woman Nude Flowers Bouquet Picasso Picasso 1930s Eastern Europe Women artists US painting < 1940
1932 The Faceless Head
2018 SOLD for $ 71M by Christie's
The heads sculpted by Brancusi are not abstract. He considers that everything that overflows, mainly nose and ears, is inappropriate to express the deep reality of a portrait. He gradually reduces these growths to a surface carving up to removing them completely.
Around 1925 he made a wooden bust 55 cm high on the theme of La Jeune Fille Sophistiquée. He takes Nancy Cunard as a model, without telling her. The heiress of the Cunard shipowners, she has an eccentric life that symbolizes the roaring twenties in the Parisian literary and artistic circles. She is sexually liberated and anarchist, and her attires are inspired by Africa.
The almost abstract head is indeed a portrait. Comparing with the photos of the period, we recognize the bulging forehead and the receding chin, and the stiff neck from behind. This disturbing muse always offers in the photos an unpleasant pout that we imagine also through the rare incisions of the sculpture. The pinched bun is an evocation of her signature bunches.
Brancusi made a plaster in 1928 and a unique polished bronze in 1932. This bronze is still installed on the marble base designed by the artist, for a total height of 80 cm. It was sold for $ 71M at lot 19 A by Christie's on May 15, 2018. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Nancy Cunard discovered many years later that she had served as a model for this artwork. After hesitating in its interpretation as a bust or a torso, she expressed her admiration for the artist.
1932 The Devil's Snare
2014 SOLD for $ 44.4M by Sotheby's
She is not a botanist but there is no need to be a scientist for being fascinated by the datura, a wild herb that is particularly abundant in New Mexico. Its trumpet flowers appear at the cool of the evening with subtle shades of colors on a white background. A powerful hallucinogen, this plant is locally called Jimson weed and most commonly Devil's snare.
Painted in 1932, Jimson weed - white flower No.1 is a beautiful portrait of a flower. Inspired by macrophotography, it is an invitation to enter full front into the intimate secrets of a disproportionately enlarged datura. This oil on canvas is measuring 122 x 107 cm, a large format for the artist at that time.
This painting was sold for $ 44.4M from an estimate of $ 10M by Sotheby's on November 20, 2014, lot 11. It is deaccessioned by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe NM with the consent of the donor. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
January 24, 1932 Le Rêve by Picasso
1997 SOLD for $ 48M by Christie's
Marie-Thérèse attains her legal majority on July 13, 1930, thus putting an end to the torment of Tantalus of her passionate lover. Olga has not yet discovered this infidelity. Remaining cautious, Picasso buys the château of Boisgeloup in the same month to install away from Paris his mistress and his second studio. In 1931 he carves many busts where he captures the roundnesses of the head and face of Marie-Thérèse.
As long as Olga still did not find an evidence of the adultery, he had remained cautious. Le Rêve, oil on canvas 130 x 97 cm painted on January 24, 1932, indeed marks the point of no return.
It is one of the very first portraits where the young blonde woman is recognizable. Picasso had chosen her for the voluptuous beauty of her curves. She sleeps peacefully in an armchair, her head bent over her right shoulder. It is however a dream. Picasso uses his signature vision in multiple perspectives but teratology is rarer. Yet here Marie-Thérèse has six fingers on each hand.
For the artist, this dream is also erotic, perhaps ending a long period of frustration when he did not want to be accused of abusing a minor. This painting offers in several places a double reading, quiet and pornographic. Such a mingling is rare : later Pablo will rather tend to associate with pornography a complacently autobiographical bestiality.
Without having significant financial means, Victor and Sally Ganz had an absolute eye. In 1941 Le Rêve was the very first piece in their collection which they were to limit to five artists : Picasso, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Eva Hesse.
On November 10, 1997, Christie's sold the Ganz collection. The two top results were Le Rêve, sold for $ 48M, and the ultimate version numbered O of Les Femmes d'Alger sold for $ 32M. The Ganzs had spent about $ 2M on the acquisition of their entire collection.
These two paintings are arguably the two most important artworks by Picasso in private hands. Les Femmes d'Alger was sold for $ 180M by Christie's on May 11, 2015.
In 2001 Steve Wynn bought Le Rêve in private sale, with the aim of making it the emblem of one of his casinos in Las Vegas. He gave up this project in 2006 because of the anti-European xenophobia which was spreading in America at the time of the war against Iraq. He had a client for an announced amount of $ 139M. While preparing this negotiation, his elbow went through the canvas, leaving in Le Rêve a tear 20 cm long.
The painting was repaired and the client, Steven A. Cohen, did not give up. He bought Le Rêve in private sale from Steve Wynn in 2013 for a price announced to the press of $ 155M.
Please read the page dedicated to this work in Wikipedia.
March 2, 1932 Marie-Thérèse mingled with her Statue
2012 SOLD for $ 41.5M by Sotheby's
The expressively distorted face retains the features of the blonde and pops up from the head on a pedestal. The woman wears on her lap a vase of flowers along with three fruits that may be her breasts and buttocks. The contrast of light is one of the brightest in the art of Picasso.
Nature morte aux tulipes was sold for $ 28.6M by Christie's on May 9, 2000 and for $ 41.5M by Sotheby's on November 5, 2012.
Here is now what followed, further demonstrating the importance of this lot. Less than one week later, on March 8, Picasso undresses the woman and separates her from the statue. This "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" is one of the masterpieces by Picasso.
March 8, 1932 Picasso in Love
2010 SOLD for $ 106M by Christie's
On March 8, 1932 this young man of 50 years wants to express the strength of his love for Marie-Thérèse Walter. The result is that Nude, green leaves and bust for sale by Christie's on May 4, 2010. It was sold for $ 106M.
The young woman is glorified twice: despite the stylization typical of the Picassos of that time, the bust looks unmistakably similar as the head of the nude. The young woman sleeps peacefully, lying on her back, offered in the nude before the artist's eyes. The leaves symbolize the force of spring ... and that of the painter, for sure. The bright colors in flat areas increase the perfect legibility of the work. The painting is illustrated in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity
This lot has many qualities. It is large (162 x 130 cm). It was recorded, but was not shown to the public for half a century.
The low resolution image below is shared by Wikimedia for fair use :
March 9, 1932 Nu au Fauteuil Noir by Picasso
1999 SOLD for $ 45M by Christie's
This series includes about 25 oils on canvas, with the sleeping or reading woman as the main theme. In the first phase, Picasso plays with hiding sexual symbols in the image. Le Rêve is painted on January 24. Nudes make their appearance at the approach of spring in an accelerated rhythm : Nu couché avec feuilles vertes et buste on March 8, Nu au fauteuil noir on March 9, Le Miroir on March 12, Jeune femme au miroir on March 14. La Dormeuse, oil and charcoal on canvas, is inserted in that sequence on March 13.
On March 17, considering that this series was completed, Picasso invites Kahnweiler to his workshop. Two of the nude paintings are present but we do not know which ones. Kahnweiler is dazzled by the audacity of Picasso's new style, where eroticism is accentuated by the shortened curves of the body. He later wrote to Leiris that these erotic figures could have been painted by a satyr who had just killed a woman.
According to Picasso himself, the highlights of his creative quest were the nudes of March 8 and 9, both in the 162 x 130 cm format. The position of the woman is almost identical in the two pictures, with the head completely thrown back. Nu couché avec feuilles vertes et buste is the most complex composition, bringing together several symbols.
Nu au fauteuil noir offers a dramatic contrast between the pink flesh and the black seat. The only other element is a green plant that highlights the symbol of fertility. This oil on canvas was sold for $ 45M by Christie's on November 9, 1999. It is illustrated by Wikipedia on a dedicated page.
March 13, 1932 The Muse of Boisgeloup
2018 SOLD for £ 42M by Phillips
In March Picasso realizes a series of sleeping nudes, from memory in Paris or from live in Boisgeloup. The Nu, Feuilles vertes et Buste painted on March 8, 162 x 130 cm, is emblematic of this series by its finish, with simple lines and pure colors that once again aim to compete with Matisse. It was sold for $ 106M including premium by Christie's on May 4, 2010.
On March 12 Le Miroir, 130 x 97 cm, introduces a new audacity, the reflection allowing to see her body from front and from behind.
On March 13 La Dormeuse, 130 x 162 cm, is the last painting in this series. A synthesis of the images of March 8 and 12, it releases the woman from the useless accessories replaced by a simple area of blue sky. The landscape format allows the life size of this lying nude. The visual torsion of the body ensures the fullness of the desire of the artist who displays side by side the sex and the buttocks.
The Dormeuse was made in oil and charcoal, offering the spontaneity of a drawing. It keeps very visible the repentances of lines, as if the artist had actually observed the breathing of his muse in her sleep. If so, it was painted at Boisgeloup. This work of exceptional intimacy has been lovingly kept by Picasso until his death.
It was sold for £ 42M from an estimated of £ 12M by Phillips on March 8, 2018, lot 10. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
April 1, 1932 Back Light in Boisgeloup
2018 SOLD for £ 27.3M by Sotheby's
Boisgeloup offers a haven of tranquility to Pablo. Marie-Thérèse is the Lady of his castle, always calm even when she is not sleeping. She becomes increasingly recognizable, especially by her profile.
On June 19, 2018, Sotheby's sold as lot 17 for £ 27.3M Buste de femme de profil, also titled Femme écrivant, painted in Boisgeloup on April 1, 1932.
Of medium size 116 x 73 cm, this oil on canvas offers an intimate scene. The head is limited to its outline and to two small curved lines in the normal place of the eye and the ear, without the distortions that Pablo practiced so often. The big nose, the mouth half-open to concentrate and the rather strong chin are recognizable, and the yellow ponytail confirms the identity of the blonde muse.
Marie-Thérèse is against the light in a superimposition effect with the frame of the closed window. The pleasant colors are dominated by the blue of the sky. The garden brings a green halo.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
after July 1932 Focusing on the Sleeping Blonde
2018 SOLD for $ 37M by Sotheby's
In June and July a large retrospective exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit marks an important turning point in Picasso's life. Now Olga has no doubt : her husband has a mistress. The consequence is unexpected : henceforth he has no reason to hide the true face of Marie-Thérèse Walter.
On May 14, 2018, Sotheby's sold for $ 37M Le Repos, oil on canvas 46 x 46 cm dated 1932, lot 8. It had been estimated $ 25M. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
Once again Marie-Thérèse sleeps. It is not a coincidence. According to the artist a peaceful sleep exudes innocence and exacerbates the physical beauty. The line of the profile is stylized but realistic, and the hair is blond. The day date was not written by Picasso but this artwork was probably created during the second half of the year.
The portrait is focused on the head in close-up, placed behind the crossed hands. The mouth is slightly opened for a gentle breath. Picasso offers on this image a harmony of colors centered on the lilac skin. The passion of the artist enables him in 1932 to create almost life-like portraits.
October 30, 1932 The Year of the Great Marie-Thérèses
2013 SOLD 28.6 M£ by Sotheby's
Next sale by Christie's on May 11, 2021
Pablo Picasso’s 1932 portrait of his teenage lover and "golden muse" from a critical point in his career, will be offered in @ChristiesInc newly rebranded 20th Century Art Evening Sale in New York on 11 May, with an estimate of $55m. https://t.co/Kua10ra99x— The Art Newspaper (@TheArtNewspaper) April 6, 2021
The previous year had been devoted to sculpture. As Modigliani before him, Picasso changed in his painting the reality of the forms after observing his own statues. These heads that appear distorted in a plane view became the symbol of Picasso's art to the uninitiated.
An oil on canvas 146 x 114 cm dated 30 October 1932 was sold for £ 28.6M by Sotheby's on February 5, 2013.
The young woman is seen in profile, gently seated in an armchair by the window. Despite an extreme simplicity of line, her presence is felt with intensity. These lines are also framing the areas of color, so enabling to compare this work with Matisse and Léger.