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A very fine impression with pristine colors of one of Picasso’s most powerful and accomplished linocuts.
Picasso created his first major multicolored linocut in Vallauris in 1958. That work, Bust of Woman after Cranach (1957), was made in six colors, each necessitating a separate piece of linoleum. The resulting linocut was an aesthetic failure in that the colors harmonized poorly. It was a technical failure as well in that the forms and colors did not correlate satisfactorily as a result of the individual plates not registering correctly. Part of Picasso’s problem with that work was caused by having to cut and print each lino-block separately. This lengthy procedure resulted in a discontinuity of the creative process and took away much of the spontaneity, so essential in Picasso’s most successful works. Through sheer artistic necessity, Picasso was driven to invent a new technique for producing multicolored linocuts. Instead of using one block for each color, as had been the case in all the various forms of relief printing since the Renaissance, Picasso devised a reductive technique to produce all the colors from only one piece of linoleum on which a preliminary, detailed guide-drawing first had been executed by the artist. One problem with this method is that, after each color (or “state”) has been printed and the lino-block has been cut away to prepare for the printing of the next color, it becomes impossible to amend or revise the previous state. In the Italian Renaissance, and indeed in the whole history of relief printing, the techniques utilized had always made it possible for the artist to rework individual color blocks. In Picasso’s method of the multicolored linocut, however, there was no way to return to a previous state and the work could only be corrected progressively. Picasso’s unique artistic abilities allowed him to overcome this technical difficulty, a difficulty that he turned into his advantage as evidenced by his increasingly simplified and powerful multicolored linocuts.