Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 18811973)
Charcoal, ink, cut and pasted newspaper, and graphite on paper; 24 5/8 x 18 3/4 in. (62.5 x 47.6 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.70.33)
© 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Following Picasso's first U.S. exhibition, at gallery 291 in 1911, his work was once again shown at that gallery in the winter of 191415 in a joint exhibition with fellow Cubist Georges Braque. Considering this collage to be one of Picasso's best to represent the "complete 'abstraction' of the modern movement," Alfred Stieglitz purchased this work from the show for his personal collection. The image is one for which Picasso did a number of variations in Paris during the autumnwinter of 1912; in each version, a tall bottle and goblet are set out on a small round table. Here, the still-life objects are outlined without any pretense at three-dimensional form, and depicted from various angles so that head-on and aerial views are presented simultaneously. The full silhouette of the goblet (glass, stem, and foot), for instance, is clearly outlined at center right, but so too is its circular rim, which could only have been seen from above. Like Man with a Hat Holding a Violin (1999.363.64), another collage of the same year, this composition includes a clipping from the Parisian newspaper Le Journal of December 3, 1912 (placed along the side of the bottle). The article's headline, which reads "M. Millerand, Ministre de la guerre, fletrit l'antimilitarisme" (Mr. Millerand, Minister of War, denounces antimilitarism"), seems to indicate Picasso's awareness of the gathering tensions leading to World War I. However, rather than directly addressing these concerns through a military subject, he subtly contrasts the political reality of the times against the carefree bohemian lifestyle of Parisian cafés. Picasso's use of collaged newspaper also sets up a dichotomy between his artistic interpretation of objective reality and reality itself, making the lines between art and life even more ambiguous.