June 6, 2022

Picasso Poster

         This poster is an interesting example of Picasso’s work in a very casual mode.  Picasso (Spain, 1881-1973) was hardly a stick-in-the-mud when it came to art, but it’s interesting to see what he made when he clearly wasn’t even trying very hard!  Picasso collaborated for many years with Hidalgo Arnéra, a printer, and one of the things they mostly produced was posters for bullfights and other local events.  This poster is for the annual ceramic festival of Vallauris, in 1956.  It’s got very basic carving, simple images, and Picasso even carved the 6 backwards.  Clearly he didn’t put a lot of effort into this one.  On the other hand, it was with Arnéra that Picasso developed his reduction print methods for printing multi-colored pieces with only one block (another way to keep it quick and cheap?)
        So, what’s going on here?  The carving is very basic, and (given the backwards 6) probably not even sketched out in advance.  It makes me wonder whether mushing together the double L in Vallauris was a design choice or a way to correct the spacing after starting in carving without a plan!  What is complicated, though, is the layering of colors.  It looks to me like the right and bottom sections of the paper were colored with blue, while the top, left and bottom sections of the paper were colored with yellow (making green across the bottom).  The center was left unprinted at first.  If the carved block was then printed over these colors in magenta, the yellow, white, blue, and green show through where the block was carved, while magenta over yellow makes red, magenta over blue makes purple, and magenta over green makes blackish.  The one thing I'm not sure of is how the words across the top got to be orange, so I'm probably missing some step.  
        To get to the most basic level about this piece, I’m really not at all excited about it as a work of art.  By all means see this prior post about one of Picasso’s prints that I am excited about!  But as one of the pieces demonstrating experiments with relief printing and the development of new ways for relief printmaking to be used, I find it fascinating.
        What do you think?

[Picture: Exposition Vallauris, linocut by Pablo Picasso, printed by Imprimetie Arnéra, 1956 (Image from AEGN, at the National Gallery of Scotland).]


Kristin said...

I googled the poster and it's not a backwards "6", it's a "2". Or maybe not as the date on the Moma site says,
Pablo Picasso Vallauris-1952, Exposition
For sure two "ll" though.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Hmm, thanks for pointing out that ambiguity. You sent me looking for more places with information on the poster, and everything I found (including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sotheby's, and the National Galleries of Scotland where I initially saw it) lists this piece as 1956. Plus, I found a different poster for the Vallauris Exposition of 1952. So I think it's safe to say that Moma has it wrong, and it is indeed a backwards 6!