Pablo Picasso's Femme Assise
Beginning in April 2019, the FIA will host a painting by one of the most well-known artists in recent history: Pablo Picasso. Executed in the winter of 1926–27 in Paris, this painting, Femme assise (Seated Woman), had great personal significance for Picasso. It depicts Picasso’s wife, Olga Koklova, a Russian dancer whom he met and fell in love with in 1917. According to curator Brydon Smith,this identification, however, is not as straightforward as it might seem. the work is actually a family portrait, with Picasso combining and overlapping the facial features of three people into one figure. On the left in profile is a self-portrait of the artist; the childlike profile on the right is their son Paulo, who was about six years old at the time; and the head in the center (also in profile), with the dark hair falling down on one side, is Olga.
Picasso had previously combined multiple views of a single head in his portraits, but the triple portrait is rare, with only two other examples known. Additionally, there is evidence that he worked on it for a length of time and changed it repeatedly before deciding it was finished. This may reflect the state of his feelings at the time of creation. Following 1920, Picasso and Olga’s relationship was in turmoil, eventually ending in their separation in 1935.
This loan is part of a reciprocal agreement with the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, which is borrowing the FIA’s Angel by Peter Paul Rubens for its exhibition Early Rubens. This exhibition opens at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco in April, and then travels to Toronto in September.
Image: Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881–1973. Femme Assise, 1927. Oil on canvas. 51 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches. Collection Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Purchase, with assistance from the Women’s Committee and anonymous contributions, 1964. Acc. 63/44. © 2019 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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