The Absinthe Glass

Pablo Picasso Spanish

Not on view

In an age when sculpture usually meant allegorical figures and portrait busts, Picasso’s life-size rendering of a glass of alcohol was shocking for its banality. Cast in bronze in an edition of six, and then hand-painted, none of the finished works is colored green, so it was clearly not absinthe’s distinctive color that inspired Picasso. Nor does he seem to have been moved by the national debate about whether to ban the potent liquor. Instead, absinthe presented Picasso with the opportunity to incorporate an actual piece of cutlery, a trowel-shaped, slotted spoon designed to hold a sugar cube over the rim of a glass when preparing the drink. When asked about the sculpture years later, Picasso remembered that he had been particularly intrigued by “the relationship between the real spoon and the modeled glass. In the way they clashed with each other.”

The Absinthe Glass, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France), Painted bronze and perforated tin absinthe spoon

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