Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973)
16 x 10 1/4 x 10 in. (40.6 x 26 x 25.4 cm)
Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, 1995 (1996.403.6)
© 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
In 1909, over a ten-month period, Picasso was inspired to create more than sixty Cubist paintings, sculptures, and drawings of women that bear a striking resemblance to his paramour at the time, Fernande Olivier. Although few of these works could be considered traditional "portraits," they do form a unique group within his oeuvre that shows him working with unusually singular focus. This bronze head of Fernande was modeled in autumn 1909 in Paris after the couple returned from a summer trip to Spain (Horta de Ebro), and represents Picasso's first Cubist sculpture. Like his early Cubist paintings, the shape of her sculpted head is faceted into smaller units. Fernande's hair, which she wore up in a rolled do, is here a series of crescent blobs, while her contemplative face is more sharply chiseled into flat planes. Intended to be seen in the round, the composition changes form when viewed from different angles, and the head's slight tilt and the neck's sweeping curves give the allusion of movement as if she were about to look over her shoulder.