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LIVE 24-SEVEN


A BUY E R’ S GUIDE PICASSO – NOT SO PRICEY…


Picasso ceramics provide a wonderful opportunity for collectors to purchase works of art by one of the most innovative, prolific and celebrated artists of the 20th century and, more importantly, for a fraction of the price of his paintings.


Picasso welcomed the idea of making multiples from his unique ceramics, generally in editions of 50 to 500, with the view that this would make them both affordable and accessible to a wide audience.


Will Farmer is our antiques & collectors expert, he is well known for his resident work on the Antiques Roadshow, he has also written for the popular ‘Miller’s Antique Guide’. Those in the know will have also come across him at ‘Fieldings Auctioneers’. We are delighted that Will writes for Live 24-Seven, he brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise.


Picasso’s love of ceramics began late in his career and was brought on by his love for the light and vibrant pottery along the Mediterranean coast. In the summer of 1946, while staying at Golfe Juan, Picasso decided to visit the annual pottery exhibition at Vallauris. The town of Vallauris had been blessed with ground that yielded excellent clay and had been an important ceramics-producing centre from Roman times to the 1920s.


While at the exhibition in Vallauris Picasso took a particular interest in the Madoura stall and asked to be introduced to the owners of the pottery. The Ramié family, thrilled that the great Picasso should take an interest in them, welcomed him in the Madoura Pottery workshop. During his visit he began working with the fresh clay and rapidly created three pieces which were left to be dried and baked. A year later Picasso returned to Madoura and asked about his pieces; much to his delight, they were presented to him having been fired and finished. Thrilled at the results he asked if could make more and a part of the workshop was handed over to him. This new haven was to become a favourite place for Picasso and somewhere he would retreat to until 1973 when he passed away.


The ceramics, like the graphics, convey a sense of spontaneity, but due to their gestural strength and colour have even more vitality and vibrancy. Although ceramics are often deemed a craft, for Picasso the plates, jugs, vases and other vessels that he created were a form of canvas. With a sense of liberation, he experimented with the play between decoration and form, between two and three dimensions and between personal and universal meaning. While working in the ceramic medium, along with Suzanne Ramie’s technical tips, Picasso would deliberately mismatch or reposition handles or spouts in order to ingeniously create facial or anatomical features on the ceramic objects.


Picasso used unconventional tools for surface patterning such as kitchen knives or perforated cooking utensils. The dominant themes of Picasso’s ceramics became the face, still life, birds, fish and goats, mythical scenes of centaurs and fauns. Like in previous periods, he shows a big interest in bullfights and toreadors and classical imagery of Mediterranean simple life. He created his ceramics in a spontaneous and playful manner. In Picasso’s world the vases, pitchers, plates, ceramic tiles and other objects, which he created and painted, acquired the dimensions of the canvas.


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