Picasso Marks a New Season

A survey of the modern master’s works opens this month in Palm Desert

Buste de Femme D’Apres Cranach (1958), colored linoleum cut, 7/50 ed. Picasso runs Nov. 28 through March 14, 2010.


A towering, prolific talent, Pablo Picasso produced more than 20,000 works of art and mastered a number of media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, and illustration. In addition to creating such linchpins of art history as Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937), Picasso invented Cubism and helped give rise to Surrealism.

This month, Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert opens a significant survey of Picasso’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures from several major periods, including Cubism. The gallery will also feature an important private collection of 80 to 90 pieces of his ceramics. Although Picasso’s work has made appearances in the desert before, this show will be the largest to date.

Among the works on view will be a color linocut from 1958 titled Buste de femme (d’après Cranach le Jeune), or Bust of a Woman (after Cranach the Younger). Linocuts form a tiny portion of Picasso’s printmaking; he generally favored etching and lithography. But between 1958 and 1963, his residence in the south of France, away from the printmaking resources of Paris, led him to experiment with linoleum and produce many strong compositions. A postcard image of Lucas Cranach the Younger’s Portrait of a Young Girl inspired this print, an edition of 50. A powerful image with rich colors, evoking a blend of Cubism and classical portraiture, this piece is considered the most important of Picasso’s linocuts.

The nucleus of the show will certainly be the ceramic collection. The old art world hierarchy held that ceramics, a functional craft, was of lesser stature than the fine arts of drawing, painting, and sculpture. However, with the gradual breaking down of all strictures in the arts since the 1960s, this hierarchy has slowly become obsolete. In fact, ceramics is downright hip these days.

In recent years, cutting-edge ceramic works by up-and-coming artists such as Eduardo Sarabia, Kristen Morgin, and Kathy Butterly have gained solo gallery shows and important group shows.

As the scholarship on ceramics practice has increased, so has the recognition of Picasso as a pioneer in the medium. A major 2004 traveling exhibition, Picasso and Ceramics, argued that Picasso was one of the most important ceramists of the 20th century — an artist who worked firmly within the traditions of the medium, and yet pushed it forward with an innovative, conceptual approach. The result is a body of work that is every bit as distinctive as Picasso’s paintings and sculptures.

An excellent example of Picasso’s ceramic work is Vase à la tête [Visage de profil], (Vase with Face), a four-sided white vase in an edition of 25, handmade by the artist. As the vase is turned, four images look out from its rounded surface, forming four “sides”: a smiling sun, a human face, a woman’s front side, and a woman’s backside. The piece is charming and whimsical, showing off its splendid curves and highlighting its function as a vessel.

The round platter or bowl seems to be a surface on which Picasso particularly delighted in tweaking pictorial possibilities. Plongeurs Fond Blanc (Divers in White), a convex wall plaque in an edition of 500 dated 1956, is a remarkable piece that depicts a group of divers lounging by a pool or a lake. A diver in mid-arch atop a platform echoes the curvature of the top rim of the plaque, while a diver lounging on the ground accentuates its bottom edge. In Picador, a bowl in an edition of 500 dated 1953, a horseman lances a bull’s neck as a toreador waits nearby. All three figures stand on a plane that lightly curves across the bottom of the bowl. On these objects and others like them, the formal possibilities of the piece are beautifully teased out, as a placid round surface is transformed into an arena filled with drama, action, and surprising complexity.

Picasso runs Nov. 28 through March 14, 2010

Heather James Fine Art
45188 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at tmay@palmspringslife.com and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Gang of Four Brings Latest Album to Pappy & Harriet's Stop

Like many bands that have survived over the years. Gang of Four has undergone some lineup changes, but through it all guitarist Andy Gill has kept moving forward and not living by the past.

Rami Jaffee Leads All-Star Band Appearance at Saxony Group Fashion Week El Paseo

Rami Jaffee brings a hefty musical resume of playing with the Wallflowers and Foo Fighters, and he and his all-star band will rock Saxony Group Fashion Week El Paseo on March 23 during "El Paseo Runway Night."

Festival of the Desert Makes Debut at Sunnylands

Festival of the Desert brings an international flavor and artistic edge in its debut March 18 split between Sunnylands and McCallum Theatre.

Bryan Brothers Serve Up Entertainment at BNP Paribas Open

Whether competing on the court as the No. 1 doubles team in the world or delighting fans with their musical prowess, the Mike and Bob Bryan will rock the BNP Paribas Open.

Adam Levine Picks Coachella Valley Resident from "The Voice" Blind Audition

Coachella Valley singer Barry Minniefield hasn’t quite found a signature style of his own, but he has attracted the attention of Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, who chose him during "The Voice's" blind audition.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest

Enter your “Cutest Pet” photo in the Pets on Parade 2015 Photo Contest. Online users will be able to like the Cutest Pet photos from six (6) categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.