• Pablo Picasso's 'Carnet de la Californie'

  • Fifty years after the master's death

Pablo Picasso's 'Carnet de la Californie'

Fifty years after the master's death

Pablo Picasso

I Carnet de la Californie
by Pablo Picasso

Fifty years after the master's death

10 March – 29 April 2023
Inauguration: Friday 10 March from 18.00

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Pablo Picasso, a brilliant and rebellious spirit, I am pleased to present you the lithographs of the Carnet de la Californie , a series of 'variations on a theme' created by the master in just 10 weeks.

In 1955, Picasso confirmed his link with the Côte d'Azur by purchasing a majestic villa in the Art Nouveau style on the heights of Cannes in the La Californie district. Here he will live with his new partner, Jacqueline Roque until 1961.

The master places his atelier in the huge and bright living room, whose large windows overlook a luxuriant garden. Some shots of the time testify to the disorder and accumulation of objects that contributed to Picasso's creation.

The works we present to you are a series of drawings executed from 1 November 1955 to 14 January 1956, transposed into lithography in 1959 by Mourlot. Seventy-five days in which Picasso produced countless variations of what he himself defined “paysages d'intérieur” . (1)

The carnet is made up of fifteen drawings of the interior of his studio, seven portraits of Jacqueline Roque dressed as an odalisque and three quotations from old masters.

Fifteen variations of the study
In each of which we recognize his atelier: canvases on easels, a small table with a bust on it, a chest of drawers, a sculpture of a bird and the artist's favorite rocking chair. We glimpse order, but more often the sense of symmetry disappears, the ceiling wobbles, the furniture swirls, in accordance with the experimental rhythm Picasso imposes on the space. The palm trees that we see through the windows now enter and invade the room, now they are brought back to a green ray of beams of light. The eye is taken along a thousand lines of flight that meet nowhere.

Seven portraits of Jacqueline Roque as an odalisque
An immediate reference to Delacroix for whom Picasso always had a strong admiration. The desire is to create his own version of Les Femmes d'Alger studied at length during his visits to the Louvre. Thus he began to create a good number of variants of Delacroix's work, introducing his own peculiar cubist trait into each one, as well as bringing back some typical characteristics of his friend and artistic rival Henri Matisse, who died a few months ago.

Three Sheets of Quotations from Old Masters
Picasso has always been a great creator of pastiches (2) , several times during his artistic career he reformulated the works of both his contemporaries and the great masters of the past. During the ten weeks of work in La Californie , he made on the same sheet of the cahier , a version of the Portrait of the Duchess Catherine von Mecklenburg , by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and the Head of a Girl Reading a Letter by Vermeer. Furthermore, in a very free but faithful drawing, he takes up the famous Portrait of Charles de Morette by Hans Holbein. The notebook closes with the masterful interpretation of The Man with the Golden Helmet by Rembrandt.

At seventy years old, Picasso is indisputably the most famous painter in the world, he takes possession of concepts, colors, shapes and manages to grasp the secret implications of things and human figures, overturning the rules of anatomy, perspective and composition in space . Never satisfied, it is renewed each time marking milestones in the history of art. He quotes all the greatest artists without ever copying them, reinvents, experiments and produces at a fast pace, transfiguring everything. Picasso eliminates the illusory third dimension of perspective, shatters the form in the decomposition of planes in space: in practice, he changes the way of seeing things.

As Gertrude Stein maintained: "His drawings were not of things seen but of things expressed, in short they were words for him; drawing was always his way of speaking, and he talked a lot." (3) This is his authentic creative force, that of one of the greatest transgressors of the aesthetic ideal of beauty of all time.

(1) Reasoned catalogue: Sebastian Goeppert, Herma Goeppert-Frank, Patrick Cramer, Pablo Picasso, Catalog raisonné des livres illustrés, Cramer èditeur, Genève, 1983.
(2) Artistic work in which the author deliberately imitates another's style.
(3) Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Adelphi, 1973.

View all works by Pablo Picasso

Original prints (silography, burin, drypoint, etching, aquatint, lithography, serigraphy, etc.) are to be considered proofs pulled in black and color from one or more plates conceived by the artist himself, whatever technique was used to make them. In the 20th century many of the traditional techniques have undergone variations due to the improvement of technology and the artists' desire to experiment with new forms of expression, so that in the original prints we encounter techniques with a photographic or heliographic basis, up to elaborations of images made with the aid of computers. These peculiarities are indicated in the technical sheets of the work. Japanese prints do not follow these rules: the artist would make a drawing on very thin paper, expressly for engraving this would be pasted upside down on the plate, which would then be engraved by the hori-cho (silograph), under the control of the artist. One plate was engraved for each color. Status is a voluntary change to the plate, while variant is an accidental change to the plate or refers to the quality or paper. The quality or beauty of the impression is independent of the state, preservation, rarity, subject, and author (a late proof of last state, if printed with care, may be of high quality; and it is understood that the quality is high or low within the same print run). The adjectives in international use to define quality are, in descending order: superb, splendid, magnificent, beautiful, fair, mediocre, tired, and poor. For modern and contemporary prints, when they are not proofs or undocumented runs but specimens belonging to a print run, in which the first specimen and the last have no difference in quality, these are referred to as "perfect specimens." For Japanese prints, color quality is indicated by the following adjectives in descending order: brilliant, excellent, good, fair, pale. The existence or non-existence of the signature is always mentioned. It should be remembered, however, that this, is of no use either in the certification of authenticity or in attribution. So the attribution of a print to an author, unlike that of a drawing or painting, being imprinted in several copies can be considered, published work and therefore of certain author and documented. For antique and Japanese prints, it is difficult to speak of a print run since they were generally printed according to demand. In addition to the two major divisions, coeval and late, prints were printed at different times according to demand. A current edition means a large print run, sometimes over a thousand copies, desired by the author and publisher, often as an out-of-text table in books or art magazines. Not are to be considered artistically minor works; many have had a parallel luxury edition. Rarity is due either to the few impressions made, or to the law of supply-demand, and still the quality of preservation is indicated by the following phrases in descending order: in exceptional state of preservation, in perfect state of preservation (except...), in good state of preservation (except...). Margins are classified as follows: very thin up to 1 mm, thin from 1 to 2 mm, small from 2 to 4 mm.good from 4 to 15 mm, wide over 15 mm, intact is a sheet that retains the measurements in which it was made or printed, with editorial meaning a sheet that has been marketed without margins or with a precise paper size chosen by the artist in consultation with the publisher. The measurements are all in millimeters, height to base, refer for cable prints (etchings, burins,...) to the copperplate impression, for silographs to the marginal line and, in the absence of these, to the sheet, for lithographs and serigraphs refer to the image and not to the sheet. Sometimes catalogs raisonné report slightly different measurements, this may depend on the measuring criteria or the elasticity of the paper which, depending on the temperature/humidity of the environments in which it was stored or the pressure of the press, shrinks or widens. The authenticity of the original prints and their correspondence to the characteristics described in our "declaration of authenticity" will be issued upon purchase of each work.