Pablo Picasso is an artist whose name is rightly dominant to the story of painting in the 20th century. As the author of Cubism, and creator of over 4,500 paintings, his 2-dimensional work is perhaps without match. Nonetheless, the artist’s 3-dimensional, sculptural work, is an important part of his overall oeuvre that deserves real focus. As the creator of at least 700 sculptures, this facet of his work should be far more widely recognised. Yet, a lack of appreciation can be distinctly ascribed to his refusal to exhibit his sculptural works early on 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 NYC in 1967, the first major exhibition in America to showcase a significant portion of his sculptures. Moreover, it was not until recently, that there has been a re-emergence of interest in Picasso sculptures in the 21st century, due to the seminal Picasso Sculpture – again held at MOMA in 2015, and then travelling to the Musee Picasso in Paris in 2016.
The reason for such a lack on exhibition history, is perhaps that he kept the piece in his homes and daily life - sculpture occupied a uniquely personal and experimental status for Picasso - rather than his paintings, which he often exhibited soon after making. 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.