Pablo Picasso
August 30, 1959

An original hand-signed Pablo Picasso linocut print.


August 30, 1959

Original linocut printed in three colors (brown, black, beige) from one block on wove paper bearing the “ARCHES” watermark.

Hand-signed in pencil in the margin lower right Picasso.

A superb impression of Geiser/Baer’s second and final state, from the edition of 50 (there were 20 additional signed proofs reserved for the artist and the publisher), numbered in pencil in the margin lower left.  Published by Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 1960: printed by Hidalgo Arnéra, Vallauris.

Catalog: Bloch 909; Geiser/Baer 1226.II.B.a; Karshan 7; McVinney 14; Picasso Project L-047.

Image Size: 20 ¾ x 25 inches

Sheet Size: 24 ½ x 29 ½ inches

Framed Size: 32 3/8 x 36 x 1 3/8 inches

The story of Picasso’s linoleum cuts began in Vallauris, the little village above Cannes where the artist had made pottery since 1947.  On behalf of Vallauris, Picasso occasionally accepted civic responsibilities of an undemanding nature.  In 1951 and continuing through 1964, he annually contributed posters that were used to advertise the town’s ceramic crafts and bullfights.  Hidalgo Arnéra, a local printer, suggested that Picasso try linoleum to make such posters, since it could be inexpensively printed.  As Picasso continued to explore linocut, he realized that the medium need not be limited to the manufacture of posters and that it offered many additional possibilities.  The facility with which it responded to decorative and cursive design particularly attracted him.  Also, colors printed from linoblocks are characteristically flat and opaque – unlike any that Picasso had previously employed.  In linocut more than any other print medium, Picasso desired to create images in color.

Some of the artist’s most personal subject matter and symbols abound in Picasso’s bullfight linocuts.  Like so much of his art, there is a cyclical and serial aspect to them.  He repeatedly explored the bullfight, for example: this confrontation being part of his deep cultural past, rekindled by its introduction in Vallauris in 1954, where, significant to Picasso’s humanism, killing the bull is prohibited.  Picasso expresses the subject with a thoroughness that recalls the aquatints and lithographs of his countryman, Francisco Goya, but without the bitter violence.  No other series of graphic works, aside from Goya’s, explores with such range the duality of man and beast in the arena.