Pablo Picasso was born in 1881, in Málaga, Spain. Arguably one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, Picasso produced over 50,000 pieces of art using various mediums, including print making, ceramics, sculpture and painting. Along side George Braque, Picasso is responsible for the cubist movement. As well as the cubist movement, Picasso was also well known for his particular colour periods, such as the blue period, which depicted vagrants, and marginalised people in hues of blue. In contrast to this Picasso’s Rose period was more joyous, featuring clowns and ‘circus people’ using pinks, beige and rose colours. For this blog post I will be exploring Picasso’s work on linocut prints, looking at portrait and still life compositions.
These linocuts were made towards the end of Picasso’s career, when he was in his eighties. Ordinarily the layers in a linocut print are created by producing a set of linocuts on different pieces of lino to build the entire image. However Picasso developed a new technique where he would use one piece of lino and cut each stage on this single piece, which meant there was very little room for error. The “still life under the lamp” below is an example of Picasso using such a technique.
In these techniques Picasso worked in colour from light to dark, using quite bold yellows, reds, greens and blues. The final prints are very striking, with strong line and colour. The still life composition in particular depicts the dazzling light from the lamp and the strong shadow which follows it very well. Being completely new to the world of linocut, I first wanted to experiment with the idea of these lines and blocks of colour before delving into the physical act of cutting the Lino. I thought about trying to attempt a portrait of Picasso himself in the same style of his “Buste de Femme au Chapeau“.
Here is the final response. I manipulated the photograph digitally to pull out the bold lines of Picasso’s face and top, and traced over the image in pencil to create a clear image. I then worked back over the portrait using the lightest colours of yellow and green and moving to the darker shades of blue and orange. I purposefully used quite scratchy pen marks in the same style as the small cuts on the Lino.