Around 1916 he attempts a new approach by simplifying the geometric shapes and by reducing the number of elements. The readability remains difficult except perhaps in the still life. To convince his audience Picasso indeed needs to convince himself.
He realizes two portraits of Olga in the same format, based on the same photograph. One of them is realistic in the style of Ingres, the other is Cubist. The artist wants to demonstrate that the impression offered to the viewer by a work of art does not depend on the style.
Zervos considers that both paintings were started simultaneously in 1917. The Ingresque portrait is finished early. The Cubist portrait is continually reworked until 1920. The result is as luminous as a stained glass window with its solid colors enclosed in outlines of white stripes bordered by a black line. The woman maintains an identical attitude on both images.
The use of the Cubist portrait like a piece of laboratory for the development of a new style is at no doubt. Picasso kept this work throughout his life, certainly not in memory of Olga but as a demonstrator of the evolution of his art in that difficult period of his career.
The Cubist portrait, oil on canvas 130 x 89 cm, is estimated $ 20M by Christie's in New York on May 15, lot 7 A offered along with seven other major artworks for the benefit of the Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute. Please watch the video in which Christie's introduces the whole set.
SOLD for $ 30.5M including premium