Muse & Motif

Muse & Motif

A selection of prints covering Picasso's graphic output in every medium, concentrates almost entirely on the figure, with depictions of his muses Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Roque. These will be shown together with examples of Matisse's most famous etchings illustrating women resting, sleeping and reading. Groundbreaking prints made in the late 1960s by Miró, whose motifs included found images or fragments of words, will be shown alongside one the most striking images of birds made by Braque in the final year of his life.

La Femme a la Fenêtre by Picasso (1881 - 1973) was completed in Paris on 17 May 1952. This portrait of a woman at a window is one of Picasso's most powerful depictions of his lover Françoise Gilot. Gilot, who Picasso began a relationship with in 1944, also appears in Les Deux Femmes Nues, 1945-6, rare progressive proofs for one of Picasso's iconic series made immediately after the Second World War. In this series, as in the famous bull series, Picasso defies expectations by taking classical representation through to abstraction.

Picasso's final muse and his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, whose image dominated so much of his late work, is portrayed in the linocut La Dame à la Collerette (Portrait de Jacqueline à la Fraise), 1962. By the early 1960s Picasso and Jaqueline had left Paris to settle in the south of France. A major drawback to this move was the sheer distance between him and his favoured printing studios in Paris. Picasso looked elsewhere for inspiration, happening upon posters in the local town and he began to make linocut posters for bullfighting events and ceramic exhibitions. Linocut offered him a new freedom in his means of expression and in just a few years he produced around 150 linocut prints. Dispensing with the traditional method of cutting separate blocks for each colour, Picasso cut, printed and cleaned just one piece of lino over and over again to gradually build up an image and create the finished article.

Both Gilot and Jacqueline appear in L'Italienne, 1953. When browsing printmaker Fernand Mourlot's studio Picasso discovered a screened photo-lithograph that had been used to print a poster, depicting an Italian woman, for an exhibition at the Orangerie in Paris in November 1948. Having being informed that the plate was unusable and excited by its possibilities Picasso took it away and returned the next day with a modified plate ready for proofing. He had reworked the image into L'Italienne. By changing the composition of the female face, the woman begins to look like Gilot, his lover at the time, with her open, wide eyes. He then added various other characters, including the first reference to his future wife Jacqueline, depicted bottom left, and himself, depicted top right, playing the castanets. Although the plate was prepared in January 1953, it wasn't printed until 1955 by which time Gilot had left and Picasso had begun living with Jaqueline.

Muse & Motif

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