September 20, 2011

"Still Life by Lamplight"

        You can probably guess that this linoleum cut was done by Pablo Picasso.  (I made fun of Lord Dunsany's long name, but it turns out that Picasso's full name is much more ridiculous: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.  And I can't get the bank to understand my own mere two middle initials.)
        Picasso (1881-1973) is, of course, one of the most famous artists, his name synonymous for many people with twentieth century art.  Personally, I find much of his art more interesting than appealing, but he was certainly prolific enough that everybody ought to be able to find at least a few of his pieces they really enjoy!  One of his pieces that I really enjoy is this linoleum block print.
        "Still Life by Lamplight" was done in 1962, while Picasso was in a period of working a lot with lino cuts.  An article I found from Marc Rosen Fine Art says this piece is a reduction print, made from one block carved and printed in five different
states.  Looking at it, however, I'm not sure how that technique produced the red and green printed without any overlap.  Of course, one thing Picasso was a real master of was experimentation, so it would hardly be surprising that he and his printer Arnèra came up with plenty of techniques that I haven't thought of!  Here's an interesting image of the final state of the block, printed in black only.  For once I don't like it better than the color version!  For once it definitely looks like only a small part of the whole.
        I like lots of things about this "Still Life by Lamplight," especially the design of the goblet and the patterns of the red and yellow light, but my favorite thing of all is the lightbulb and the starry glow around it.

[Pictures: Still Life by Lamplight, linoleum block print by Pablo Picasso, 1962;
    One of a series of progressive proofs of Still Life by Lamplight, linoleum block print by Picasso, 1962 (picture from Marc Rosen Fine Art, Ltd.)]


Unknown said...

He probably would have printed the red first, cut out where he wanted it to stay, then inked the green. I actually made a homage to this print a few years back- but the version I was looking at had gray where this one had green.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Yes, but then the green would be printed over red, and I don't see how that didn't make brown. In a reduction print each color that's printed is always on top of all the previous colors, because those areas haven't been carved away yet. So whether red or green went first, the other would be printed on top. Perhaps his ink was just much more opaque than mine.