The Frick Collection
The West Gallery of The Frick Collection
Special Exhibition
About the Exhibition

Reinventing Tradition

Drawing in Fontainebleau and Paris, 1921

Works in the Exhibition

Picasso's Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition
October 4, 2011, through January 8, 2012

Works in the Exhibition

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Málaga, November 1890
Pencil on paper
Museu Picasso, Barcelona, donated by the artist, 1970 (MPB 110.842)
CAT. 1

Made by Picasso at the age of nine, this drawing was based on a statuette in the hallway of his family's apartment house. The flourish of his signature — P. Ruiz Picasso — indicates the pride he took in his work. This is among the earliest works preserved by Picasso's parents.

Bullfight and Six Studies of Doves
La Coruña, 1892
Pencil on paper with touches of brown wash
Museu Picasso, Barcelona, donated by the artist, 1970
(MPB 110.869)
CAT. 2

In the bullfighting scene, the natural verve of the eleven-year-old draftsman comes to the fore. With the sheet turned upside-down, he applied himself diligently to the lessons of naturalistic representation. Both subjects are associated with his father.

Study of a Torso
Barcelona, 1895
Charcoal and black pencil touches on laid ivory paper
with watermark
Museu Picasso, Barcelona, donated by the artist, 1970
(MPB 110.886)
CAT. 3

Made at the age of fifteen as an advanced student in Barcelona's academy, this work displays Picasso's mastery of naturalistic representation in a drawing after a plaster cast of a figure from the Parthenon. Through such academic exercises, he familiarized himself with the principles of classical art while perfecting his technique.

Study from Life (Male Model)
Barcelona, 1895–97
Charcoal and Conté crayon on paper
Museu Picasso, Barcelona, donated by the artist, 1970
(MPB 110.853)
CAT. 4

From casts of sculpture, Picasso progressed to the live model. Here Picasso captures the specific qualities of his subject. The human figure would remain Picasso's primary subject throughout his life.

Portrait of the Artist's Father
Barcelona, 1896
Watercolor on paper
Museu Picasso, Barcelona, donated by the artist, 1970
(MPB 110.331)
CAT. 5

Don José Ruiz Blasco, Picasso's father and first teacher, was also his frequent model. By limiting his palette to shades of red, the adolescent intensifies the expression in this depiction of his tall, fair-haired
father — his physical opposite.

Portrait of Antoni Sabatés(?)
Barcelona, 1899
Conté crayon and diluted oil paint on paper
Private collection. Courtesy Fundación Almine y Bernard
Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte
CAT. 6

The flatness of form, mixed media, and spontaneity of execution of this drawing show Picasso responding to new currents in the graphic arts and the thriving Catalan movement of Modernisme. One of a large cycle of drawings of Barcelona's bohemian community, this work was shown in 1900 at the local tavern Els Quatre Gats, marking Picasso's public debut as an artist.

Castilian Village
Madrid or Toledo, 1901
Pastel on paper
Collection Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel
CAT. 8

This scene of old Castilian life was made in Spain after Picasso's first trip to Paris. The man in the foreground with a crook-necked cane, wearing a typical Castilian mantle, may be a shepherd. It formed part of Picasso's first appearance in an exhibition in Paris in 1901 at the Vollard gallery.

Paris, late 1901 / early 1902
Black chalk with watercolor on paper
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection (1970.17.164)
CAT. 9

Allusions to self-portraits in the Louvre by Poussin and Delacroix underlie this image, while in technique the emphatic strokes of black chalk around the head echo portrait drawings by Van Gogh. This work conveys a sense of a young artist confronting a world of expanded horizons.

Picasso's Left Hand
Paris or Barcelona, 1902
India ink and wash on paper
Private collection, Europe
CAT. 10

Hands feature prominently in Picasso's early work, and he frequently made studies and sketches of them to test the expressive potential of different gestures and anatomical manipulations. Here he focuses on conveying motion and light, moving his loaded brush rapidly across the sheet.

Mother and Child on the Shore
Barcelona, 1902
Pastel on paper
Private collection. Courtesy of Richard Gray Gallery
CAT. 11

The hieratic form of the mother recalls Gothic and Romanesque statuary, while the method of surrounding areas of glowing color with dark outlines is reminiscent of cloisonné or stained glass.

Couple at a Music Hall
Barcelona, 1902
Pastel on cardboard
Nationalgalerie, Museum Berggruen, Staatliche Museen, Berlin (MB 2/2000)
CAT. 12

In this pastel, Picasso balances strong geometric shapes and areas of light and dark, while the soft, sketchy application of chalk unifies the composition. Here, as in the previous work, the pervasive blue tonality
underlies the sense of alienation implicit in the scene.

Female Nude in Profile (Hommage à Gauguin)
Paris, 1902
Conté crayon and charcoal on paper
Private collection, Europe
CAT. 14

In both subject and method of drawing Picasso pays tribute to the work of Paul Gauguin. Upon hearing of Gauguin's death in 1903 — several months after he had made the drawing — he added the inscription, choosing to sign his name Paul (rather than Pablo) in honor of the older artist.

Study for La Vie
Barcelona, 2 May 1903
India ink on paper
Private collection, Europe
CAT. 15

In this study for one of Picasso's first masterpieces, La Vie, the artist and his lover Germaine stand naked in a studio. With great economy of means, Picasso conveys the volume of their bodies through outline and with a few strokes of the pen captures the expression of the huddled figures in the painting on the easel in the background.

Mother and Child and Study of Hands
Paris, winter 1904
Black crayon on paper
Harvard Art Museums, Fogg Museum, Bequest of Meta and Paul J. Sachs (1965.318)
CAT. 16

In this study for a gouache, Picasso works out the composition of the mother and child, while trying out various positions for the hands. The drawing as a whole has an aesthetic balance and completeness.

Acrobat in Blue
Paris, autumn 1905
Gouache on cardboard
Private collection. Courtesy of Richard Gray Gallery
CAT. 17

In this early work depicting a studio model, Picasso chose a large format characteristic of a formal portrait. However, his loose application of
gouache and use of unprimed cardboard — a cheap, unconventional support he favored at this time — give this work the freshness of a sketch.

The Death of Harlequin
Paris, end 1905 / beginning 1906
Gouache over charcoal on cardboard
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (1996.129.1.a)
CAT. 19

Here Picasso envisions the demise of the commedia dell'arte character Harlequin, identified by the diamond pattern of his costume. He lies with his hands in prayer, attended by mourners, recalling Renaissance depictions of Christ's entombment as well as the sculpted effigies of medieval sarcophagi. For the dog, the brown cardboard support suffices
as the color of his hide.

Youth on Horseback
Paris, winter 1905–6
Charcoal on paper
Private collection
CAT. 20

In this study for an unrealized painting, emphatic contour lines establish the conjoined form of horse and rider, with the horse represented as negative space. The anterior view of the figure on horseback has a long
history in art, from the Renaissance to Degas.

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Major funding for the presentation in New York is provided by Bill and Donna Acquavella, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the late Melvin R. Seiden.

Additional support is generously provided by Walter and Vera Eberstadt, Agnes Gund, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the Thaw Charitable Trust, Mr. and Mrs. Julio Mario Santo Domingo, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The exhibition is also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The accompanying catalogue has been underwritten by the Center for Spain in America and The Christian Humann Foundation.