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Pablo Picasso paints his lover and wonders why she’s always bitchy.

April 17, 2010 Art, Impressionist No Comments

Paging through Sotheby’s latest Impressionist and Modern Art catalogue (5/5/10 Evening Sale), I came across this curiosity. Entitled Bust de Femme (Sotheby’s Sale N08633, Lot 30), Picasso painted his lover at the time, artist Dora Maar. My initial reaction was, “Really!? it looks like Yogi Bear….. or Chewbacca” Anyways, it has pre-sale estimates between 1.5 to 2 million USD.

Sotheby’s notes that, “In the years that followed the completion of this compelling picture, Picasso’s relationship with Maar would become increasingly strained.” Rich.

Copy + Paste from Sotheby’s:

Picasso’s war-time depictions of Dora Maar are among the most famous of his oeuvre and have come to symbolize the collective emotions of that era. Daringly abstract, these pictures have a certain tragic beauty and power of presence that few other portraits in Picasso’s vast repertoire were able to achieve. The present work, completed in the early summer of 1940 at the artist’s studio in Royan, is one of his more powerful compositions.

Dora Maar’s relationship with Picasso is one of the most dramatic love stories in the history of 20th century art. Picasso met Maar, the Surrealist photographer, in the autumn of 1935 and became enchanted by the young woman’s powerful sense of self and commanding presence. In the eight years that followed, Maar was Picasso’s principal model and the subject of some of his most iconic portraits. For nearly a decade their partnership was one of intellectual exchange and intense passion, and Maar’s influence on Picasso over these years resulted in some of his most exciting portraits of his long career.

Picasso’s many portraits of Maar, including the present painting, were highly stylized and imaginative but did not entirely eliminate her identifiable features. Her flaring nostrils and dark eyes betray her fiery personality, yet the startling reorganization of her face evidences the great liberties the artist took in manipulating her image. In the years that followed the completion of this compelling picture, Picasso’s relationship with Maar would become increasingly strained. Maar’s strong-willed personality and her penchant for the dramatic, which had initially amused the artist, grew to infuriate him. The present work, painted at the height of this time, is a testament to the energy and emotion inspired by this extraordinary woman.

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