Picasso’s Women

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)  Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' x 7' 8" (243.9 x 233.7 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Pablo Picasso June-July 1907. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), MOMA,New York

Also at the MOMA in a back gallery on the fifth floor is this monumental Picasso.  It’s so huge, the women are likely bigger than you.  No small feat for my SigO who is 6 foot 6.  The thing that stops you about this painting is this delicate pink color like cotton candy, wrapping the ladies from floor to ceiling.  It’s inviting and fleshy.  These prostitutes are inviting and fleshy.   Their stare is both a challenge  . . . and an invitation.  Although Picasso is playing around with the cubism thing here and there in this portrait, I can’t help but think this is a valentine to these women.  The background is white and blue, cloud-like to me, and his normal thick black lines are thinner giving these women an ethereal, angelic nature.  And then there is that whore with a black eye.

In contrast to these figures is a portrait of his peacefully sleeping lover seen at the Guggenheim in the Thannhauser Collection.  Instead of the angular lines above, he is sweeping in his strokes.  Her arms are wide arcs, quite different from those sharp elbows above.   These curves offer an embrace, a hug to her.  The violet color is so delicate you can almost smell the lavender wafting off her as she sleeps.  She was 17 when they met and began their secret love affair.  Secret. . . because he was already married.

Woman with Yellow Hair (Femme aux cheveux jaunes), Paris, December 1931. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 31 7/8 inches (100 x 81 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser  78.2514.59. © 2009 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Woman with Yellow Hair (Femme aux cheveux jaunes), 1931 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,Thannhauser Collection