Pablo Picasso, Head of a Woman (Fernande), 1909, bronze, 16 ¼” x 9 ¾” 10 ½”, Museum of Modern Art, New York, photo by opacity via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution License.

Pablo Picasso on the Brink

This is a sculpture of Picasso’s girlfriend from 1904 through 1911, Fernande Olivier, a complicated woman who entered into a tempestuous seven-year relationship with the womanizing Picasso.   Picasso created dozens of portraits of Fernande during their time together.  Their relationship lasted only until the artist achieved fame and success.

Technically, this sculpture is Proto-Cubist, demonstrating many impulses and ideas that would evolve into the fully-realized Cubist style.  There are several projecting planes in the head and face, as Picasso began to separate and examine the forms he sees in the natural world.  The result is a sculpture with shifting shapes that more accurately resembles the human perception of such forms as he or she moves through space.


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