Head of a Woman
- Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France)
- Oil and charcoal on canvas
- 21 3/4 x 13 1/4 in. (55.2 x 33.7 cm)
- Credit Line:
- Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
- Accession Number:
- Rights and Reproduction:
- © 2018 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
With one continuous black line, Picasso drew this image reminiscent of a misshapen boomerang. He then added details that evoke a ferocious female seen in profile: two oddly shaped eyes, a set of tiny nostrils, three hairs, and four nails for teeth. This work belongs to a series of sixteen paintings of similarly terrifying women. The context was the irreverence fostered by Picasso's Surrealist friends, but the subject is his deteriorating marriage to the Russian dancer Olga Kokhlova, who, despairing over Picasso's loss of interest, had become emotionally unstable. Picasso had by that time already met his next lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, although Olga would not know it until 1935.
Inscription: Signed (upper right): Picasso
[Galerie Pierre (Pierre Loeb), Paris, by 1938; probably sold to Paalen, possibly by exchange]; Wolfgang Paalen, Mexico City; Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (by the 1940s–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)
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Anne Baldassari in Picasso surreal = Picasso surréaliste = The Surrealist Picasso. Ed. Anne Baldassari. Exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler, Basel. Paris, 2005, pp. 218–19, fig. 88 [see Ref. Éluard 1927], erroneously called "Harlequin".
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