Femme Assise (Seated Woman)
Stamped with the foundry mark C. Valsuani Cire Perdue, and numbered 5/10
Bronze with a light brown, golden patina
Height: 5" (12.8 cm)
Conceived in 1945, this example cast in the artist's lifetime
Edition of 10 plus 1 unnumbered cast
Picasso is an artist whose name rightly dominates the history of art, and particularly painting, in the Twentieth century. As the initiator of Cubism, and creator of over 4,500 paintings, his two-dimensional work is perhaps without match. Nonetheless, the artist’s three-dimensional, sculptural work, is an important part of his oeuvre that deserves focus. Since the artist created at least 700 sculptures, this facet of his work should be far more widely recognised. Such a lack of public appreciation for his sculpted oeuvre can be distinctly ascribed to the artist’s refusal to exhibit these works early in his career.Indeed, it wasn’t until near the end of his life that public recognition was truly achieved, in the retrospective Hommage à Picasso, held in Paris in 1966, which first showed the great master’s sculpture in number. This exhibition was soon followed by The Sculpture of Picasso at MOMA, NY, in 1967, the first major exhibition in America to showcase a significant portion of his sculptures. Recently, there has been a re-emergence of interest in Picasso’s sculptures thanks to the seminal exhibition Picasso Sculpture –held again at MOMA in 2015, which then travelled to the Musée Picasso in Paris in 2016.
The reason behind such a poor exhibition history relates perhaps to the fact that the artist mostly kept the piece in his homes and daily life. Sculpture occupied a very personal and experimental status for Picasso – unlike his paintings, which he often exhibited soon after producing them. The fact that Picasso was also unschooled in sculpture, unlike his long tutelage in painting, may have led to his apprehension to show the work publicly.
Femme Assise is a small work that perfectly represents its type. Depicting Francois Gilot, the artist’s partner between 1944 and 1953, the piece’s composition is of a stunning simplicity, which perhaps only Picasso could accomplish. The use of lost wax casting means an incredible level of detail is achieved, even showing the artist’s own fingerprints captured in the clay. This aspect is central to the understanding of the work, as Picasso pinched or compacted the clay in as little as five movements to form this tiny, but important portrait of his lover.