Between spring and winter 1909, Picasso executed more than sixty portraits of his companion, Fernande Olivier. In their tenacious pursuit of a single subject, these works reveal a level of experimentation that stands out in the history of portraiture. Even more significant, the Fernande series coincided with the invention of cubism. Published to accompany a major exhibition originating at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, this richly illustrated volume illuminates Picasso's radical reformulation of human physiognomy.
Containing eighty-two color illustrations and sixty-eight duo-tones, the catalogue explores the Fernande portraits and related works as a single oeuvre culminating in the magnificent Head of a Woman (Fernande) - one of Picasso's rare pre-1912 excursions into sculpture. By so doing, it allows us to examine Picasso's process in an unprecedented fashion. What emerges is a new picture of the artist developing a single portrait motif with obsessive repetition and struggling to resolve artistic problems during a time of crisis in his work. Also included are studio photographs that offer further insight into the conceptual nature of the artist's process. The next narrates the internal development of the Fernande portrait series, with particular emphasis on the sculpted Head, and relates it to other themes, including likeness, serial repetition, and the history of melancholy. The book also addresses the complex nature of Picasso's interest in the work of Paul Cezanne.
Author(s): Jeffrey S. Weiss, Valerie J. Fletcher, Kathryn A. Tuma, Pablo Picasso, National Gallery of Art (U.S.) Staff