picasso the sculptor

150921_r27038-320Peter Schjeldahl at The New Yorker:

Of the scores of pieces that merit lengthy discussion, I’ll cite one: “Woman with Vase” (1933), a bronze of a plaster sculpture that, cast in cement, accompanied “Guernica” at the Spanish Pavilion of the World’s Fair in Paris, in 1937. She stands more than seven feet tall, with a bulbous head, breasts, and belly, on spindly legs. Her left arm is missing, as if ripped off. Her right arm extends far forward, clutching a tall vase. Seen from the side, the gesture suggests a tender offering. Viewed head on, it delivers a startling, knockout punch. What isn’t this work about? It conjoins Iberian antiquity and Parisian modernity, love and loss, hope and anger, celebration and mourning. Another bronze cast of it stands at Picasso’s tomb, in the Château de Vauvenargues, as a memorial and, perhaps, as a master key to the secrets of his art. Certainly, it overshadows the somewhat indulgent—and, now and then, plain silly—sculptural creations of his later years, such as the gewgaw-elaborated bronze “Little Girl Jumping Rope” (1950). Exceptions from that time include a stunning selection of his riffs on ceramic vessels, lively bent-metal maquettes for public art, and a group of six “Bathers” from 1956: flat figures, one almost nine feet tall, made of scrap wood and standing in a shared, beachlike bed of pebbles. Its éclat might well sink the hearts of contemporary installation artists.

more here.