Pablo Picasso: ‘Nessus et Déjanire (Le centaure Nessus enlève le femme d’Héraclès’, 1920, Juan-le-Pins, Crayon d’argen sur papier, Chicago, Art Institute.
About the Erotic Artwork of Pablo Picasso
The career of the greatest painter of the 20th century Pablo Ruiz Picasso (b. 1881, d. 1973), was played out in the shadow of Eros – and of Thanatos. At the age of eight Picasso’s drawings already displayed a precocious interest in the female form, and in the days leading up to his death he was still working obsessively on sketches of the female sex. At the turn of the century the young Picasso created drawings and watercolours inspired by the bordellos of Barcelona which he frequented. These works mix desire, fascination, but also comedy and the grotesque alongside the ever-present fear of disease. They would result, seven years later, in his masterpiece, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, from the crucial period starting in 1904, when Picasso moved to Paris, to the completion, in the spring of 1907. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a depiction of five prostitutes that is regarded as one of the most important paintings in the history of modern art.
A number of erotic works dating from the late 1920s and early 1930s reflect his interest in Surrealism, which advocated the reconstruction of nature according to one’s imaginative fantasies. For Picasso, these fantasies were often of a sexual nature – “Why not the sex organs in place of the eyes, and the eyes between the legs?” he once wondered – and the result is a series of hybrid and often playfully erotic creatures. In Figures by the Seashore (1931), for example, some protuberances and orifices are anatomically recognizable, some are not; but collectively the entwining forms are an eloquent expression of sexual union. In addition to drawings and paintings, the exhibition also includes a number of sculptures dating from the artist’s Surrealist phase, including The Couple (1930), Head of a Woman (1931) and Bather (1931).
The erotic works produced during the last decades of Picasso’s life – a time when the artist enjoyed a celebrity unmatched in the annals of modern art – often reflect an increasing awareness of his own mortality and the inevitable waning of his sexual powers. Many of these are self-mocking and broadly humorous, such as collages in which a drawn image of a knock-kneed old man with glasses and a beret ogles and fondles photographs of pinup girls cut from magazines (1957). (Indeed, the tabloid press had made much of his liaison with the young painter Francoise Gilot, begun when he sixty-two and she was twenty-one). Similarly humorous in tone, but very different in source, are the group of ceramics (1962) with crudely painted images of aging “excited” satyrs in pursuit of fleeing nymphs, clearly intended as caricatures of erotic scenes on Greek vase painting.
The erotic works of Picasso include overall drawings formal and informal, sketches in notebooks hidden in drawers and private collections, and occasionally paintings and sculptures. They have been shown in a major exhibition 2001 in Paris, Montreal and Barcelona: “Picasso Erotique” a unique examination of the central theme of Picasso’s work. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. Most of his erotic work can be seen at the Musée Picasso, Paris and the Museo Picasso in Barcelona.
More Erotic Art by Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso:“Dessin érotique (La Douleur)”, Barcelona, 1903, Pen, brown ink & colored pencils on card. New York Metropolitain Museum of Art
Pablo Picasso: ‘The Divan’. ca. 1899, Museu Picasso, Barcelona © Successió Picasso.VEGAP. Barcelona 2017
Pablo Picasso:“Nu couche avec Picasso assis a ses pieds,” 1902-1903. Copyright Succession Picasso 2001.
Pablo Picasso – Femme nue au chien, 1902, signed ‘Picasso’ (lower left), pen and brown ink and colored wax crayons on card
3 5/8 x 5 ¼ in. (9.1 x 13.3 cm.) Drawn in Barcelona in 1902
Pablo Picasso: „Scène erotique“, 1903, Gouache sur papier, 20 x 28 cm, Privatsammlung, London
Pablo Picasso – Couple, 1904
Pablo Picasso – Nu sur fond rouge 1905-1906
Pablo Picasso – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon, and originally titled The Brothel of Avignon) is a large oil painting created in 1907 by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). The work portrays five nude female prostitutes from a brothel on Carrer d’Avinyó (Avinyó Street) in Barcelona. Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Pablo Picasso: “Faune Devoilant une Femme” 1936, from Pablo Picasso’s Suite Vollard
Pablo Picasso: ‘Minotaure caressant une Dormeuse’, Bl. 93 aus La Suite Vollard
Pablo Picasso: ‘Femme au bain’, 1933 Pen and black ink and grey wash, on cream wove paper, Boisgeloup 9 Avril XXXIII
Pablo Picasso: “Dora et le minotaure,” 1936. Copyright Succession Picasso
Pablo Picasso: ‘ Trois mousquetaires et nu dans un intérieur’, 21-Septembre 1972 gouache encre lavis gris 60 x 80 cm Picasso-Sammlung der Stadt Luzern, Switzerland