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Still Life with Bottle of Marc, 1911

Pablo Picasso

Spanish, 1881-1973
Drypoint, Edition of 100, No. 23
19-3/4 x 12 in. (50.2 x 30.5 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Jennifer Jones Simon

Not on view

Intaglio was Picasso’s first introduction to printmaking, and it remained a constant love throughout his long and prodigious career. For this still life, Picasso used a steel needle to draw, or rather to scratch into the copper plate, a composition in the analytical cubist style that he had created. The barely legible still-life elements are woven on scaffolding composed of diagonal lines, punctuated with curves and arcs that reveal the fragments of a bottle of brandy known as Marc, drinking glasses and playing cards. Areas of short, hatched lines float through the composition in free association with regard to their traditional responsibility of describing shadow, volume and spatial relationships.

The physical demands of etching a copper plate—concentration and dexterity—are matched by the intellectual rigor of Picasso’s cubist revision of traditional pictorial illusion. This drypoint, the artist’s first major cubist print, is a masterpiece of precision and economy; it is altogether striking for the wealth of recognizable detail Picasso achieves despite abstracting the forms to the point of extinction.

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