This exhibition features 16 exceptional prints made between the 1930s and 1960s that illustrate the artist’s bold experiments, technically and stylistically, in the graphic arts.
For nearly three-quarters of a century, from 1905 to 1970, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) engaged in printmaking with a gusto and freedom of expression that is thrilling to experience. No print medium intimidated him, and his prodigious facility with intaglio (etching, drypoint and aquatint), lithography and linocut inspired him to deconstruct and reinvent customary practices.
Unseen Picasso examines a select group of iconic and lesser-known prints of enduring subjects from the artist’s repertoire, including his muses and the nude. The exhibition looks at the singular characteristics that make these prints rare or unique and therefore distinguished from any edition.
Though prints are usually produced in multiples, one-of-a-kind impressions are sometimes pulled in the course of a print run. They may be proofs or undescribed states in an edition (a state is any stage in the development of a print at which impressions are pulled.) A telling case is the 1946 lithograph Two Nude Women, a consuming subject for Picasso that compelled him to transform a recognizable subject into a minimalist abstraction.
The Museum’s unique impression of the eighth state –Picasso created 21 states exploring this composition– is also noteworthy as the sole print from this campaign to be printed in color. Picasso’s ambitious four-color lithograph Woman with a Hairnet illustrates another critical classification in printmaking. Here, the artist’s inscription “Bon à tirer” (ready to print) authorizes the printer to “pull” an edition. Picasso’s signature identifies this trial proof as the model of perfection that the edition of 50 prints would have to match.