Pablo Picasso’s ceramics are a hot commodity on the art market today. Picasso produced over 124,000 ceramic works with the help of the Madoura Pottery Atelier in a small town in the South of France. These ceramics are highly sought after, since demand increased dramatically for them in the 1980s, when they gained popularity in Japan. Today, many Picasso ceramic pieces regularly go for thousands of dollars at auctions around the world. But what is special about Picasso’s ceramic works is that the price point can be as low as $1,000 for certain pieces, widening the demographic of buyers who can afford one of these pieces. Instead of the insanely high prices of an original Picasso painting, which go for millions of dollars, Picasso ceramics are available to many more people are a much lower price point. These works are more accessible than many of Picasso’s other art, which is something that Picasso loved about pottery in the first place.
For a long time, Picasso ceramics were nothing but souvenirs tourists could take home for a cheap price tag from visiting Vallauris, the village in the south of France that houses Madoura Pottery. The artisans at the atelier made thousands of ceramic works with Picasso and they were not nearly as well known as his other artistic works in the beginning. In the 1980s, Japanese tourists began to seek out these ceramic works and the demand for Picasso ceramics exploded. Since then, Picasso’s ceramic works have been catalogued in a catalogue raisonne put together by Suzanne and George Ramie, the owners of Madoura Pottery.
This catalogue helped create a reliable market for the ceramic works, since there are so many editions, it allowed buyers to feel confident about their purchase. In 2015, Picasso ceramics shot up in demand once again. Marina Picasso, granddaughter of Picasso, auctioned off her own personal collection of Picasso ceramics that summer. The pieces sold for much more than was anticipated, with some works selling for almost four times the expected price. This auction cemented in the fact that Picasso ceramics are a valuable commodity on the art market.
Today, the market for Picasso ceramics is still hot. Picasso ceramics are the perfect starting point for an amateur collector, and are continually still sought after by art lovers of all levels. Picasso ceramics continue to increase in their popularity at auctions around the world. Due to the high volume of pieces available, Picasso ceramics are constantly being put on the market and buyers snap them up quickly. Depending on the size of the edition and the popularity of the ceramic, the price tag for one of these ceramics can be very affordable. Because of this, Picasso ceramics can be a wonderful place to start if you are new to the world of collecting. There is a Picasso ceramic for every collector out there, no matter your budget, as long as you’re willing to do the research. Picasso himself talked about the equalizing nature of pottery and ceramics, and especially enjoyed the fact that more people would be able to have a Picasso artwork in their home through his ceramics.
How many pieces of pottery did Picasso create?
The question “How many pieces of pottery did Picasso make?” does not have a simple answer, like one might think. Pablo Picasso began his journey into the world of pottery in the summer of 1946, with a trip to the South of France. Inspired by the work of the Madoura Pottery Atelier, Picasso wanted to learn anything and everything he could about the medium. He found a teacher in one of the owners of the Madoura Atelier, Suzanne Ramie. This is how the famous Picasso Ceramics began. Suzanne Ramie shared her expertise with the artist and offered a corner of the studio to him to use for his practice. Picasso made the town of Vallauris, where the Madoura Atelier was located, his home from 1946 to 1955 and in this time he experimented with many different types of ceramics and decorative techniques.
Picasso Ceramics were made in plates, pitchers, vases, plaques, and more during this late period in his career. He produced over 4,000 original ceramic pieces. But that does not quite answer our original question of how many pottery pieces he made. This is because there are over 120,000 Editioned Picasso Ceramics out in the world that have been recorded. It is important to understand what “editioned” means in this context. Picasso created editions of anywhere from 25 to 500, meaning a batch of the same work made over again 25 times or 500 times, depending on the size of the edition. Each one gets numbered and signed, and are works of Picasso. Picasso collaborated with Madoura artisans to create these Editioned ceramics.
The Editioned Picasso Ceramics were originally sold to tourists of the area for cheap, but when the works became popular in Japan in the 1980s, the demand for them exploded and prices for these ceramics skyrocketed. Since then, Editioned Picasso Ceramics have become a hot commodity in the art market. Part of this comes from the fact that each editioned ceramic is catalogued in an extensive catalogue raisonne from Suzanne and George Ramie, the owners of the Madoura Pottery Atelier. Because of the wealth of reliable information, buyers know of and seek out these works to purchase. Sometimes the demand for an editioned work can exceed the demand for a unique original piece by Picasso himself.
The last piece of the equation for how many pieces of pottery Picasso produced, involves something called “Edition Picasso Variants.” These Variant works are Editioned pieces that are not part of the official count in the Ramie catalogue raisonne because they were for some reason decorated differently than the rest of the editioned pieces. There is no information on why these variants exist, but there are a few theories. These pieces could be possible tests of different designs and decorations before Picasso chose the final design, or maybe the Madoura artisans were playing around with leftover ceramics. Whatever the reason, these variants are unique in some way from the original design. There is no known catalogued number of these Variant Ceramics so there is no way to know how many are in existence. However, it is important to note, that these “variants” still carry the official Picasso signature and stamps used for all Picasso Ceramics.
So, how many pieces of pottery did Picasso create?
Well, I guess the short answer is there are at least 4,000 Original Picasso Ceramics, 120,000 Editioned Picasso Ceramics, and some unknown number of Edition Picasso Variants out there. It is clear that this ceramic phase in Picasso’s life was a productive one, with the sheer number of pieces he was able to produce. Something Picasso really liked about the medium of pottery was that it bridged the gap between fine art lovers and every day people. He liked that everyone had functional pottery in their home, no matter their class or status. Through his Editioned Picasso Ceramic works, Picasso was able to create a massive body of work able to reach thousands of people around the world, just like he would have wanted.
How Did Picasso Make His Ceramics?
In July of 1946, Pablo Picasso traveled to a small town in the South of France, known for its ceramics, called Vallauris. His first trip there would spark an interest in the field of ceramics for Picasso that would go on for many years, and come to define the latter years of his career. On that trip Picasso came across a Madoura Atelier pottery stand, and was intrigued by the quality of their work. The atelier was owned by Suzanne and George Ramie, who would later invite Picasso to experiment with his ceramics in a corner of their studio.
When Picasso began making his beloved Picasso ceramics sculptures, he was in his sixties. He had long since been an established and well-known artist, due to his incredible mastery in painting, sculpture, drawing and print-making. Picasso was constantly experimenting in those mediums and it makes sense that he wanted to delve into the world of ceramics as well. He was a lifelong student of art techniques, and pottery was something he had zero knowledge of up until this point in his life. Claude Picasso, one of his sons, said of his pottery, “My father never considered himself a potter. But approached the medium of clay as he would any other in order to find out what the materials and techniques of the potter’s studio could offer him and what he could discover by probing their inherent qualities or possibilities.” Picasso used his time with the Ramies to learn everything he could about pottery techniques. He made Vallauris his residence from 1948 to 1955, and experimented during this time with ceramics with the help of pottery expert, Suzanne Ramie.
Picasso’s ceramic experiments included pitchers, plates, vases and plaques that he hand-crafted, fired and painted. He worked from sketches he would bring into the pottery studio, and there he began translating his two-dimensional ideas into three-dimensional creations. He often experienced structural issues and problems with his decorative elements, and spent long hours trying to correct his technique through trial and error. Though he lacked in technical knowledge, he made up for it in passionate determination.
Some of Picasso’s ceramics, like Tête (Head), 1956, are painted with delicately colored glazes. Mastering glazes like these takes many years of practice and skill, since the artist can’t be sure how the firing of the kiln will affect their design. There are many different factors that can affect the outcome of the piece in the kiln. High temperatures, the makeup of the glaze and the type of clay used can all change how the firing process goes. Creating subtle variances in his pigmented glazes is extremely difficult to perfect, and many of his works would have ended in disaster before reaching any sort of consistency. Picasso did not believe any ceramics should be thrown away, so even when his pieces cracked or broke in the kiln, he had Madoura artisans work as his “mechanics” and patch up the ceramic as best they could.
Picasso’s experimentation with pottery changed the medium as a whole. Creating new ways of decorating and glazing his three-dimensional works allowed Picasso to express his artistic ideas in ways that had never been done before. Picasso’s ceramics are a large and influential portion of his life’s work and it is fascinating to see his progress from ceramic novice to pottery prodigy.
On December 28th, a visitor at the Tate Modern attacked Pablo Picasso’s original work Buste de Femme (Bust of a Woman), 1944, valued at $26 million. The 75-year-old oil painting, created by one of the most influential and prolific artists in history, has now been removed from public view and awaits word from conservation experts.
The Tate Modern in London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK and one of the most influential art galleries in the world. The gallery has an extensive collection of works, including several by Pablo Picasso. His Buste de Femme (Bust of a Woman), 1944 was created in the artist’s studio at Rue des Grands-Augustins during the closing months of the Nazi occupation in Paris. The painting illustrates the artist’s ex-lover, Dora Maar, the woman credited with documenting the process of Picasso’s Guernica in 1937. Maar, a French photographer, painter and poet well-known is Surrealist circles, met Picasso in 1936 and is, to her dismay, famously depicted by him as a woman in perpetual sorrow.
In the work housed by the Tate Modern, Dora Maar is portrayed in a similar fashion in this work to that of another prominent representation of her entitled The Weeping Woman; pieces of color are juxtaposed together to create a scintillating portrait in an explicitly cubist manner. In Buste de Femme, 1944, the image that Picasso creates is one of both beauty and consternation. The composition is devised of geometric forms in purple, green, yellow, blue and red which collectively produce the portrayal of the artist’s muse. The woman that Picasso illustrates is beautiful in her rendering, though she exhibits a morose fear in her expression. Despite her talent and success as an artist, Picasso has often regarded Maar as a sorrowful pitiful woman; this depiction of her reflects such sentiment. The woman sits wide-eyed in the center of the work with a fearful look on her face. Her gaze draws the viewer in to an intimate moment of vulnerability.
The celebrated work of art was tarnished on Saturday, December 28th by 20-year-old Shakeel Ryan Massey of North London. Museum security quickly apprehended him, but not before he managed to tear a rip in the $26 million canvas. Because of the damage, the work was removed from public view. Massey was taken into custody, though he denies any responsibility in damaging the painting. He has been denied bail and is being held in police custody until January 30th when his pre-trail hearing will take place.
Representatives of the Tate Modern have declined giving a statement on the severity of the damage inflicted on the work. However, the work is being assessed by conservation experts in an attempt to eventually restore the work to its former glory.
Pablo Picasso, born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain, and died in 1973 in Mougins, France, was an active artist for most of his long life. His father was an artist himself, was Picasso’s first and most formative art teacher. Picasso has one of the most prolific creative careers in history, and his work was not only loved by art lovers around the world, but it was also incredibly influential for artists everywhere. But what was Picasso’s inspiration? What inspired these famous works?
Picasso went through many creative phases in his career. These phases have been labeled as “periods” and show the different styles and mediums he was experimenting with during that time in his life. Picasso’s “Blue Period” started in 1901 and lasted until 1904. During this period, Picasso painted mostly in cool blue and green tones, sometimes using a warmer color to accent his works. These pieces have a melancholy about them, and are quite somber, featuring scenes of poverty and desolation. What was Picasso’s inspiration to start painting in this way? In the spring of 1901, one of Picasso’s dear friends, a painter and poet named Carlos Casagemas, committed suicide in a cafe in Paris. Picasso was deeply affected by his death, and sank into a depression that lasted several years. Picasso’s journey through his grief and depression is clearly reflected in his “Blue Period.”
In 1904, Picasso moved to Montmartre in Paris, and settled into the community of bohemian artists and creators there. Coming out of his depression over his friend’s death, Picasso moved on from dark and serious subjects in his paintings to more lighthearted compositions featuring harlequins, clowns and carnival performers. His color palette warmed up as well, with his paintings now bathed in reds, oranges, pinks and earth tones. This period would be known as Picasso’s “Rose Period” and it lasted until 1906. So what can be credited with this major shift in his work? Picasso met a woman named Fernande Olivier in 1904 and they began a relationship that lasted seven years. Olivier would be the first of a long line of women who were muses and lovers to Picasso over the years. This relationship and the end of his bout of depression signaled a more positive phase of Picasso’s life. The overall tone of his work during this period is much more carefree and less somber.
Citing beautiful women as inspiration would become a theme in Picasso’s life, all the way up until his death. Picasso has been quoted saying: “For me there are only two kinds of women, goddesses and doormats.” He often became obsessed with a young woman and she became an artistic muse for him, inspiring many works. All of the women Picasso took as either wives or lovers were painted by the artist. His second wife Jacqueline Roque was the subject of over 400 portraits by Picasso, and was a great source of inspiration to him.
From 1906-1909 Picasso was heavily inspired by African art, after he was exposed to traditional African masks and other art objects coming from Africa into French museums in Paris. This phase has been called his “African Period,” and was a precursor to his most famous period, “Cubism.” Influenced by Paul Cezanne’s experimentation with three-dimensional spacing and perspective, Picasso and Georges Braque pioneered the artistic movement known as Cubism. This way of breaking down a form to its most basic forms and reconstructing them in an abstracted way is what Picasso is most known for.
So what can we say was Picasso’s inspiration?
Throughout his life, Picasso’s inspiration came in many different forms. Whether it be working through his emotions, responding to a difficult life event, meeting a beautiful young woman, an intense love affair or the work of his fellow artists, Picasso took inspiration from everywhere in his life. In turn, his life’s work has inspired and influenced millions of people around the world and forever changed the history of art. There is no denying the power of Picasso’s creative mind, and the effects of his stylistic experimentation in Cubism shaped the artistic movements that followed him. As an artist who would come to influence so many artists himself, Picasso is a pillar in the modern art world with a fascinating life full of inspiration.
Pablo Picasso, one of the most prolific and well-known artists in history with nearly 50,000 known works, is famed for his recalcitrant invention of Cubism alongside Georges Braque. The artist was also known as it happen for his, often controversial, chronicles with women. Picasso had several muses over the course of his lifetime which appeared in his work. One notable young woman who Picasso chose to immortalize in more than 60 works is Sylvette David.
David and Picasso first met in Vallarius in 1954 at an exhibition where her fiancé, Toby Jellinek, was showing. Picasso had one of Jellinek’s chairs delivered to his studio where he presented a portrait of the 19-year-old drawn from memory and asked her to pose for him. This meeting would inspire several drawings and sculptures as well as 28 paintings over the course of just a few months. Life Magazine referred to this interval as his “Ponytail Period,” and it imparted instant fame to David. High ponytails fashioned after the artist’s depictions of Sylvette gained immense popularity in France during the summer of 1954. One of the most memorable works that likely sparked this development was his Sylvette, 1954. The work features the model from the waist up posed in profile and rendered in the classic Picasso Cubist style with great emphasis placed on the elegance of her polished hairstyle.
At the time of their meeting, Picasso’s personal life was in shambles; at 73, his wife Francoise Gilot had just left him. In his old age he seemed to have found comfort in the shy youthfulness of Sylvette. However, she did not succumb to the charms of the renowned artist and they maintained a purely professional relationship for the duration of their time together. The portraits of Sylvette flamed out after Picasso met his next love, Jacqueline Roque. The women who Picasso claimed as muses are legendary for losing their minds following their respective relationships with the artist. Sylvette, however, survived unscathed and went on to pursue her own artistic career.
Contemporary critics tend to discount this body of work because of its ephemerality; the high ponytail and the button down coats which Sylvette often sports in Picasso’s depictions of her were French trends of the 1950s and therefore, according to some, lack the qualities of notable work in the course of art history. However, the series of works that David modeled for is often regarded as Picasso’s only successful attempt at drawing from a model, and the beauty of the work is undeniable. The legacy of the works featuring the 19 year old endures in the work of Sylvette, now known as Lydia Corbett, herself. Though she was able to avoid the so-called madness which so tragically afflicted the other women in Picasso’s life, his influence is still clear in her oeuvre today.
Similar portraits of women by Pablo Picasso
In 1946, while visiting the annual pottery exhibition in Vallauris, Pablo Picasso had the good fortune to meet Suzanne and Georges Ramie. The Ramies owned the Madoura workshop, a ceramics studio in Vallauris, where Picasso, who was eager to delve into a new medium, made his first venture into ceramics. He became so enthralled with ceramics that he decided to move to Vallauris to pursue his new passion.
Picasso lived in the small, scenic town of Vallauris from 1948 to 1955. He bought and transformed Les Fournas, a former perfumery in Vallauris, into his studio, where he worked prolifically. Located in the south of France, Vallauris was renowned for its pottery. During his time in Vallauris, Picasso worked extensively, creating many ceramics, sculptures, linocuts, and paintings, including his masterpiece “War & Peace”, a diptyque that was installed in the chapel of the Château de Vallauris in 1959. It was also in Vallauris where Picasso first developed a fascination with two mediums: ceramics and linocuts.
Picasso loved the malleability of clay and the fiery firing process, which transformed clay into stunning works of ceramic art. He experimented with varied shapes, forms, textures, enamels, and glazes, innovating the ceramics medium. Picasso’s approach was anything but conventional- he would melt clay like bronze, fashion mythical creatures directly in the glaze, and tirelessly decorate plates and dishes with his favorites subjects, such as bullfights, women, owls, goats, fauns, and fish. He incorporated surprising and innovative materials into his craft and invented white paste, which is a ceramic that has not been glazed and decorated with pieces in relief. These white paste works are amongst the most stunning and desirable Picasso ceramics to date.
Picasso went on to create thousands of ceramics in the Madoura ceramic studio. Incollaboration with Suzanne and Georges Ramie and the skilled ceramicists at the Madoura studio, Picasso shaped plates, dishes, vases, jugs, and other earthenware utensils and then painted and decorated them with enamel and metal oxides. Picasso was particularly fascinated by the use of metal oxides, as their very nature meant that he never quite knew how the end product would look.
Just as Picasso collaborated with master printers to create editions of his printed works, Picasso collaborated with Suzanne and Georges Ramie to create set editions of his ceramic works. Today, these Picasso ceramics are amongst the most valuable and desirable works of Picasso’s entire artistic oeuvre. The diversity of form and range of subject matters found within Picasso ceramics lend them a rareness and unique charm that contributes to their increased demand in the art market.
In addition to ceramics, Picasso also became fascinated with the linoleum cut (or linocut) medium while living in Vallauris. Printer Hidalgo Arnera introduced Picasso to the linocut medium, initially suggesting linocuts as a suitable medium for producing posters. However, in his trademark fashion, Picasso pushed the boundaries of the linocut medium, creating astounding linocuts that remain amongst his most renowned and valuable prints to date. While Picasso’s first linocuts were used as posters to advertise the bullfights and ceramic exhibitions in Vallauris, he quickly transformed the linocut medium into a unique form of expression unlike anything the world had every seen, predominantly by placing increased emphasis on color and form.
Linoleum cuts (or linocuts) are a type of relief printmaking in which the artist-engraver cuts into a linoleum block to form a design. The remaining negative surface is then inked and printed. Desirable for their boldly graphic compositions, delightful use of ornamental patterns, expressive treatment of color, and superior handling of line, Picasso linocuts are collectible for their vibrant imagery and as relics of Picasso’s cherished time spent in Vallauris.
Picasso was an iconic and important figure in Vallauris’ history. He became a freeman of Vallauris and greatly contributed to the renaissance of the Vallauris pottery industry in the 1950s. Picasso also demonstrated his commitment to civic duty by creating linocut posters for Vallauris’ annual ceramic fairs and bullfights.
Following Picasso’s departure from Vallauris in 1955, Vallauris remained an important part of Picasso’s life. He retained fond memories of his time spent living in Vallauris, where his lover Francois Gilot and their children Claude and Paloma Picasso often accompanied him. Picasso would return to Vallauris at later points in his life to revisit the bullfights, exhibitions, and old friends and acquaintances. In fact, Vallauris was so dear to Picasso that he married his second wife Jacqueline Roque in great secrecy at the Vallauris town hall in 1961.
Picasso’s presence in Vallauris shaped the town’s history. Following his move there, other artists, such as Victor Brauner and Marc Chagall, rushed to work in the ceramic studios in Vallauris. Today, the Musee National Picasso in Vallauris pays homage to the artistic inspiration and personal happiness that Picasso found in Vallauris.
When Pablo Picasso passed away without a will, he left behind more than 45,000 works which have become the center of personal and financial struggle between his heirs. The artist was survived by 4 children from 3 different women. They are as follows: Paulo (with Olga Khokhlova), Maya (with Marie-Thérèse Walter), and Claude and Paloma (with Francoise Gilot). Paulo, the artist’s only legitimate son, passed away in 1975. His children Marina and Bernard Picasso now join Claude, Paloma and Maya as official heirs to the estate.
The heirs at the center of the estate negotiations are Claude and Paloma. The relationship between them with their father has been challenging. Their mother, Francoise Gilot, left Picasso after a ten year affair, and is the only lover to ever leave the artist. In 1964, she published a book titled Life with Picasso which infuriated Picasso and led him to bar Paloma and Claude from his home. Despite this severed relationship, the two children were eventually able to gain shares of the estate through a 1972 law which protected illegitimate offspring.
Since then, Claude Picasso has been named legal administrator of Picasso’s estate and is now the head of the Picasso Administration, an organization that manages the licensing of Picasso’s name. The administration oversees a huge variety of legal concerns. Each year, an annual report is largely dedicated to court cases that have been settled or are pending. Given the wide variety of objects (automobiles, pens, lingerie) which have acquired Picasso’s name, it is not surprising that the administration is constantly enmeshed in legal battles. Despite their persistence in protecting the artist’s name, there still remain hundreds of illegal brands titled “Picasso” around the world. In regards to Picasso’s artworks, Claude remains the official authenticator and receives on average almost 1000 requests for authentication annually. The verification process can be complicated, given the scholarship required and the necessity for Claude to view the works in person.
We can only imagine the Picasso Administration will strengthen its authority as the market for Picasso works continues to soar. The range of Picasso collectors has grown exponentially to include regions such as Asia and the Middle East. Just last year, there were 34 Picasso exhibitions in total around the globe. One recent exhibition which generated great excitement was MOMA’s Picasso Sculpture. The exhibition was well received for revealing the lesser known aspects of the artist’s expansive oeuvre. As such, Picasso’s name also retains its value in the commercial art market. In May, 2015 Picasso’s 1955 painting Les Femmes d’Alger (Version “O”) was sold by Christie’s for the astounding price of $179 million. This marked the record as the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.
Evidenced by the popular museum exhibitions and the high auction prices, the wealth and renown of Picasso and his family will continue to grow. Given their status within the art world, the family has been incredibly philanthropic. For instance, the majority of the heirs have donated Picasso’s works to museums. Several works have also been auctioned in order to support various charities. Recently, it was announced that Picasso’s studio in Paris would be transformed into a research and educational center of the arts. This project is headed by the Maya Picasso Foundation for Arts Education and you may find more information here:
Without a doubt, the heirs place their father’s legacy and career above personal conflicts. Their contributions will surely provide for the next generation of artists and scholars who will continue to expand our knowledge of the modern master.
More on Pablo Picasso:
Jacqueline Roque was born in 1927 in Paris, France. Her father left her family when she was relatively young, and her mother passed away when Jacqueline was only 18 years old. She married André Hutin in 1946 and together they had a daughter, Catherine. Their family moved to Africa for some years for Hutin’s job, but in 1952 the pair separated and Jacqueline and Catherine moved back to France. At this time, she began work in the Madoura Pottery in Vallauris.
Jacqueline Roque met Pablo Picasso at Madoura in 1952 and began modeling for him. Picasso was then living in the area with Françoise Gilot and their two children, Claude and Paloma. Their relationship was dwindling, and it was not long until Françoise left Picasso for good. Picasso and Jacqueline moved in to his La Californie villa together in 1954, when she was in her late twenties, and him in his early seventies. The love between them was immediate and obvious, as was Jacqueline’s devotion to Picasso. Some have had harsh words for her because of how she secluded Picasso from friends and family during the last 20 years of his life, but ultimately one cannot dispute that this was a very productive artistic period for him. Jacqueline continued to be a great muse for him until the end of his life, and there are more depictions of her than of any of Picasso’s other lovers. The two were married in 1961 after the death of Olga, Picasso’s first wife.
After Françoise Gilot’s book Life with Picasso was published, Picasso cut off contact with his children Claude and Pomona – it is unclear how much Jacqueline had to do with this. Picasso’s grandchildren have stated that when they went to visit their grandfather, Jacqueline would make them wait a very long time before seeing him. After Picasso died, this animosity did not let up – Jacqueline barred some of his family from his funeral, and battled his children over his estate. Ultimately, they all came to a compromise and the Musée Picasso was established. In 1986, distraught over the death of her husband and lover, Jacqueline committed suicide.
Dorment, Richard. “Picasso’s Saddest Love,” The Telegraph. January 14th, 2004. Accessed October 17th, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3610082/Picassos-saddest-love.html
Kimmelman, Michael. “Picasso’s Family Album,” The New York Times. April 28th, 1996. Accessed October 17th, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/1996/04/28/magazine/picasso-s-family-album.html
Kino, Carol. “Jacqueline Roque: Picasso’s Wife, Love & Muse,” The Wall Street Journal. September 30th, 2014. Accessed October 17th, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/jacqueline-roque-picassos-wife-love-muse-1412090662
Riding, Alan. “Grandpa Picasso: Terribly Famous, Not Terribly Nice,” The New York Times. November 24th, 2001. Accessed October 17th, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/24/books/grandpa-picasso-terribly-famous-not-terribly-nice.html
Walther, Ingo F. (ed). Pablo Picasso: 1881-1973 – Volume II. Cologne: Benedikt Taschen, 1994.
Pablo Picasso, La Vie, 1903.
Pablo Picasso Blue Period (1901-1904) and his Paintings:
Hailed as a defining moment in Pablo Picasso’s artistic career, The Blue Period (1901-1904) was inspired by Picasso’s own emotional turmoil and financial destitution. Following a journey through Spain and the suicide of his close friend and confidant Carlos Casagemas (1881-1901) in February 1901, Picasso’s work took a dramatic turn. Casagemas, a poet, fell victim to unrequited love and ultimately took his own life after attempting to kill his scorned lover. His suicide had a deep and profound affect on Picasso, who was struggling as an unrecognized and poverty-stricken artist living in Paris at the time.
Beginning with several paintings memorializing Casagemas in late 1901, Pablo Picasso’s themes grew solemn and dark. He adopted a nearly monochromatic palette of blues and blue greens and began to convey somber scenes of misery and misfortune. The monochromatic use of blue was commonly used in symbolist paintings in Spain and France, where it was often affiliated with the emotions of melancholy and despair, suggesting that Picasso drew inspiration for The Blue Period from his time spent in Spain observing these symbolist works.
“Picasso metaphorically allows his subjects to escape their fate and occupy a utopian state of grace. Some are afflicted with blindness, a physical condition that symbolically suggests the presence of spiritual inner vision.”
The Blue Period also directed Picasso’s attention to subjects of misfortune: beggars, drunks, prostitutes, and the crippled, hungry, sick, and destitute. However, rather than show the specific circumstances of their misfortune, Picasso elongated his subjects’ forms, endowing them with a unique sense of haunting beauty and supernatural grace. As the National Gallery of Art (2014) suggests, by idealizing these figures, “Picasso metaphorically allows his subjects to escape their fate and occupy a utopian state of grace. Some are afflicted with blindness, a physical condition that symbolically suggests the presence of spiritual inner vision.”
Pablo Picasso, The Soup, 1902.
Throughout the Blue Period, Pablo Picasso produced many works addressing symbolic, philosophical, and humanitarian themes. La Vie, one of Picasso’s most iconic and mysterious works, has been interpreted (and disputed) by historians as an allegorical reference to birth, death, and redemption, the responsibilities of daily life, sexual incompatibility, and the struggles behind artistic creativity. A nude couple and a robed woman cradling a baby stand ominously before two paintings that depict figures crouched over in despair. The composition is stilted, the space compressed, the gestures stiff, and the tones predominantly blue – features characteristic of works from Picasso’s Blue Period. La Vie began as a self-portrait, but Picasso soon found his own features transforming to those of his lost friend Casagemas (the male figure on the left), perhaps suggesting the very personal nature of this work.
Pablo Picasso, The Tragedy, 1903.
While Picasso worked predominantly as a painter during The Blue Period, he also created phenomenal prints in the style of The Blue Period. These marvelous prints are often created after the image of renowned Picasso paintings, such as The Embrace and The Two Saltimbanques (Harlequin and his Companion). Picasso also incorporated pochoir, or hand-applied watercolor, to the majority of these prints, further contributing a sense of texture and emotion. Picasso’s journey into the dark depths of The Blue Period transformed his career as an artist. As a result, these prints, created in the style of The Blue Period, are amongst Picasso’s most valuable and desirable prints in today’s market. While The Blue Period ultimately defined Picasso as a modern artist, it serves as a reflection of Picasso’s own melancholy nature during a difficult period in his life. Furthermore, it highlights Picasso’s immense ability as an artist to channel his own misery and hardship into a revolutionary form of artistic expression.
Our Guide to Collecting Picasso Ceramics
In 1947, shortly after the war, the collaboration with the Madoura studio began, and this is where he made his much loved Picasso ceramics. He painted approximately 4,000 pieces in this period, most of which are in the private collection of friends and family. During this immensely productive period, the master designed 633 ceramic editions alongside a number of unique pieces. He relied on two techniques to create the edition ceramic works. In one, he would painstakingly replicate the original object by hand as closely as possible. His second technique was much less demanding, for this he created original images in dry clay molds and transferred the image onto fresh clay. Originally, collecting Picasso ceramics was seen as gathering tourist souvenirs. Many critics were concerned by Picasso’ venturing into mass producing his artworks. Nevertheless, their initial hesitation bears no ill effect on the Picasso ceramic market today. Currently Picasso ceramics range from $2,000-$80,000, making them especially accessible to new buyers, with more rare and unique pieces ranging from $100,000 to over $1,000,000.
In fact, Picasso ceramics (also called Picasso Madoura ceramics after the studio, or Picasso pottery) are a pretty safe bet in today’s art market. In 2015, a Sotheby’s sale dedicated to these ceramics raised $2.5 million in auction sales. The ceramics have also become increasingly popular in museum exhibitions. For instance, in 2013 the Art Institute of Chicago staged the exhibition Picasso and Chicago which included ceramics from collections around the city.
Given the wide range of ceramics, aspiring and seasoned collectors must refer to the following guidelines in considering which works have the best value.
1. Examine the Stamps and Inscriptions
Picasso ceramics features several stamps and markings on the underside. The most common stamps are ‘Madoura plein feu’ , ‘ Empreinte originale de Picasso’ and ‘Edition Picasso’. The stamps refer to the techniques the artist used in creating a certain piece. For instance, Empreinte Originale de Picasso signifies that Picasso created the work by transferring the original image onto a new piece of clay. The ‘Madoura plein feu’ stamp simply indicates that the ceramic was created within the Madoura studio and documented by the Ramiés.
2. Pay Attention to the Edition Number
Edition Picasso ceramics are made in multiples of 25 to 500. The edition number can be found on the underside of the ceramic. Edition numbers reveal how early the piece was created. For instance, a work numbered 1/500 was created much earlier than another work numbered 500/500. In general, earlier numbers are considered to be more valuable. However, these earlier editions are also more likely to be damaged from aging. Keep in mind when collecting Picasso ceramics that the more limited the edition, the higher the value and price.
3. Inspect the Condition
To assess the condition, it is important to know the date a ceramic was made. It is much more difficult to find an earlier work in perfect condition. Another thing to keep in mind is the production process. Picasso’s ceramics vary from glazed and partially glazed to unglazed. Be prepared to differentiate between damage and imperfections from the production. In many cases cracks and imperfections which form on the glaze may very well be part of the final work.
4. Consider the Subject Matter
While the ceramic pieces maintain Picasso’s iconic style, subject matter is also important when choosing the right piece. Pieces which feature bulls, fish and Jacqueline Roque are more popular with collectors and therefore higher in price. Minotaurs, owls and birds are also quite popular.
5. Recognizing Personal Style
Personal preference and style should be the main point of consideration. Prior to purchasing a ceramic, decide what motif or color best suits the room. Since the ceramics also vary in size and shape, consider that in the context of where it is likely to be displayed. Many collectors purchase more than one ceramic so it is good to develop an idea early on for a potential collection. Do you prefer variety over consistency? If so, purchase from different editions each time. If consistency is your goal, focus either by theme and imagery or by color. With the many designs to choose from, there is something to suit every taste.
It can be daunting in the face of such a vast body of ceramic work to find what is right for you. If that is the case, consider the elements that you value most highly in a work of art. Is the place that the ceramic falls in the edition most important? Or are you a great lover of Greek mythology who prefers to focus on the content of the scene? Other things to focus on could be the techniques employed or the aesthetic appeal of colors used.
Given the wide variety of Picasso ceramics in terms of form, genre, and price, we are sure there is something for everyone to enjoy when collecting Picasso ceramics.
MORE ON PABLO PICASSO:
Check out our collection of Picasso Ceramics
MORE ON CERAMICS