Pablo Picasso was the most dominant and influential artist of the 1st half of the 20th century. He saw himself above all as a painter, yet his sculpture was greatly influential, and he also explored areas as diverse as printmaking and ceramics. Finally, he was a famously charismatic personality, the leading figure in the Ecole de Paris. His many relationships with women not only filtered into his art but also may have directed its course, and his behaviour has come to embody that of the bohemian modern artist in the popular imagination.
Picasso’s output is heralded as evidence of his innovation and genius as a Modern Master. No matter what method or medium, the artist tackled every effort with vigour and inquisition. As a painter, Picasso moved through styles with unmatchable creativity and expertise, yet his engagement with graphic works is equally inspiring. Picasso began his methods as a peintre-graveur with etching, and continued to move through the graphic landscape working in lithography, but it is his later work in linoleum cuts (linocuts) where his artistry excelled. Desirable for their boldly graphic compositions, delightful use of ornamental patterns, expressive treatment of colour, and superior handling of line, Picasso’s linoleum cuts are collectible for their handsome imagery, and as relics of the artist’s pioneering spirit.
Picasso took to linoleum cuts with enthusiasm and artistry, but also with his typical inquisitive ability. His artistic offerings establish Picasso as an accomplished master of graphic arts of the 20st century, but his technical achievements in printmaking, including but not limited to the process of “reductive” linocuts, make him the principal visionary in the advancement of the linoleum cut method. For reductive linoleum cuts, a single block is used to print multiple layers of colour. After each layer is printed, the block is successively carved away. This method lends itself to the exact registration and accuracy Picasso desired, whilst constraining his art editions to a finite amount of impressions. A reductive linocut is impossible to edition more than once.
Picasso produced over 100 linoleum cuts over a period of more than a decade and in this medium of printmaking, Picasso achieved such an excellence in his visual language and his technical advancement of the process that it’s hard to picture a collection without one of these works. Much like his work in ceramics, his familiarity with his favourite motifs and subjects lent him free range of expression as he explored the capabilities, pushing the boundaries of creation. Powerful, evocative, and unmistakably his own, Picasso’s linocuts will be forever acclaimed and collected for their distinct appeal.