Picasso ‘Working on Paper’
Author(s): Anne Baldassari
Year published: 2000
Publisher: Merrell Publishers Ltd
Publisher Location: Italy
Total Pages: 192 pages
Illustrations: Nearly 200 of these intriguing works and documents, mainly from the artists own archives.
Although Picasso’s masterful and often witty treatment of newsprint spanned most of his artistic career, until now, with the exception of the period of the papiers collés (1912–14), it has remained a largely unexplored area of his creative genius. From an early age Picasso was fascinated by newspaper, having written and produced his own family newspaper at just thirteen. He developed a fascination for the newspaper as an object, with all its ordinariness and popularity. As his career progressed, Picasso used newspaper as much for its visual as for its physical qualities – as material in collage, as the support for large-scale line drawings, or, in combination with its printed photographs, for dramatic and often playfully grotesque sketches. Newspaper cuttings and headlines later became influential in Picasso’s experimentation with Surrealism, and remained a primary material in his painting, sculpture and printmaking throughout the rest of his career. Much of this work has remained unpublished until now.
Anne Baldassari explores the political ramifications of Picasso’s use of newspaper reports – including those on the Spanish Civil War and Guernica – and shows how his work on newsprint made use of what the text said as much as what it looked like. During the Occupation of France, using newsprint as a support became the pretext for the defacement of Nazi propaganda, and Picasso was always ready to transform apparently innocuous press photographs into sometimes comic, sometimes disturbing burlesques of personal, political or sexual life – and often all three at once. He subverted the press, using his scissors, ink, pencil and paint to make his own meanings.
For Picasso, art was inextricably tied to the ‘real’, and newspapers, essential to the social construction of reality, could not have been more appropriate a medium for his radical reassessment of the relationship between art and its immediated context. Nearly 200 of these intriguing works and documents, mainly from the artist’s own archive, are brought together here for the first time in this elegantly designed volume, which examines the enduring fascination that the most ephemeral of printed productions held for the most extraordinary and influential artist of the twentieth century.
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