Pablo Picasso


Picasso did not advertise his experiments in sculpture so much although this kind of art attracted him as he always strived to try his hand in something new. It was only in 1966 that Picasso’s sculptures were displayed in London, Paris and New York at special exhibitions comprising more than 200 exhibits. The 85-year old artist revealed a new aspect of his talent which had not been known to the audience before though he continuously practiced in this sphere.

Early Plastic Art

Picasso’s first sculpture dates back to 1901. When he was still in Barcelona, he made a sculptural sketch of bronze, “Seated Woman”. Two years later, two bronze masks were cast: “Blind Singer” and “Picador with a Broken Nose”. “The Joker”, “Alice Derain” and “Woman Combing her Hair” were added to the stock of Picasso’s sculptures in Paris. All these sculptures are still inspired by Rodin’s realistic plastic art while emotionally they are closer to painting works of the melancholic “Blue Period”.


When drastic changes occured in the master’s painting language, his sculptures mutated as well. “Woman’s Head (Fernanda)” (1909) is already Cubist. The chaotic intersection of planes and volumes does not prevent from achieving life-like resemblance to Fernanda Olivier. “Glass of Absinthe” (1914) exists in six variations. Each bronze cast was coloured by the artist in a different way. As for formal search, these works are the first ones where Picasso contemplates a clash between reality and its interpretation. The image of the glass in bronze is combined with a real absinthe spoon: it was customary to pour the drink through a cube of sugar placed on a slotted spoon. Picasso himself seldom commented on his works but this time he admitted that the clash of the “real” (spoon) and “unreal” (glass) was the motive for creating the series of casts. Later he continues implementing the “real” and “artificial” in his sculptures and paintings creating collages and assemblages.


In the late 1920s Picasso experimented with structures made of wire and then transfered his surrealistic compositions to sculpture. Wood, metal and plaster were used separately or in combination with each other. The first composition in this technique is “Woman in the Garden” created in collaboration with Julio González. After purchasing an estate in Boisgeloup in 1932, Picasso set up a sculptor studio in a coach house. He turned to the animalistic genre: “A Head of Cow”, “Cock”. At the same time, sculptural portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter, his young lover, were created along with surrealistic paintings: ”Head of a Woman” (1932). It is notable that resemblance is obvious despite deformation. Picasso’s tomb is, by the way, also topped with “Woman with a Vase”, a sculpture depicting Marie-Thérèse.


During the period of occupation of France Picasso stayed in Paris. At that time, the technique of assemblage invented by him reached its zenith. Collecting elements of compositions from waste and debris Picasso made sculptures of them which he then cast in bronze. The ability to use things in a new way and introduce them into works of art is an evidence of the master’s unrestrained imagination and sense of humour. That is how the “Bull’s Head” (1943) was made of a bicycle handlebars and seat. In 1944 Picasso created a large statue “Man with a Lamb”, as a symbol of humanism (which was later erected in the square in Vallauris), and “Death’s Head”, associated with horrors of war. During the post-war years, Picasso went on with his fancies. He created compositions out of different waste: wheels, shoes, baskets, doors, etc. These include “Little Girl Jumping Rope”, “Woman with Baby Carriage”, images of animals: “Owl”, “She-Goat”, “Baboon and Young”, “Bull”, “Pigeon” and others as well as still lifes.

Sculptures Made of Flat Plates

In 1960s Picasso creates coloured sculptures of sheet metal. A sculpture in Chicago was the climax of this technique. In 1967 the artist donated a fifteen-meter structure weighing 162 tons to the city. He refused to be paid $100,000 for it. There are different opinions on what exactly is depicted in the metal. Picasso did not reveal the secret and the audience can see a baboon’s head, an Afghan hound, an anteater or a bird in the nameless sculpture. Picasso’s grandson believes that Sylvette David could be the model for it. Anyway, the monument became an anthem to Cubism and a manmade memorial to the great master who discovered new possibilities in plastic art.

Pablo Picasso. The Jester, 1905
The Jester, 1905
Pablo Picasso. Head of a Woman (Fernande), 1909
Head of a Woman (Fernande), 1909
Pablo Picasso. Glass of Absinthe, 1914
Glass of Absinthe, 1914
Pablo Picasso. Guitar, 1914
Guitar, 1914
Pablo Picasso. Glass and, 1914
Glass and, 1914
Pablo Picasso. Head of a Woman, 1932
Head of a Woman, 1932
Pablo Picasso. Head of a Warrior, 1933
Head of a Warrior, 1933
Pablo Picasso. Head of a Woman (Dora), 1941
Head of a Woman (Dora), 1941
Pablo Picasso. Seated Woman, 1942
Seated Woman, 1942
Pablo Picasso. Bull's Head, 1942
Bull's Head, 1942
Pablo Picasso. Man with a Lamb, 1943 - 1944
Man with a Lamb, 1943 - 1944
Pablo Picasso. Death's Head, 1944
Death's Head, 1944
Pablo Picasso. Pregnant Woman, 1950
Pregnant Woman, 1950
Pablo Picasso. Woman with Baby Carriage, 1950
Woman with Baby Carriage, 1950
Pablo Picasso. Goat, 1950
Goat, 1950
Pablo Picasso. Baboon and Young, 1951
Baboon and Young, 1951
Pablo Picasso. Head, 1958
Head, 1958
Pablo Picasso. Woman, 1961
Woman, 1961
Pablo Picasso. Owl, 1961
Owl, 1961
Pablo Picasso. Head of a Woman (Profile), 1961
Head of a Woman (Profile), 1961
Pablo Picasso. Untitled monumental sculpture, 1967
Untitled monumental sculpture, 1967
Pablo Picasso. Maquette sculpture in Chicago, 1967
Maquette sculpture in Chicago, 1967

All artworks by year