Pablo Picasso and Carl Nesjar

Born in 1881 in Málaga (Spain), Pablo Ruíz y Picasso is viewed as being one of the most versatile artists of the 20th century. He was not only a painter and graphic artist, but also a sculptor and potter. Over the course of his career his work continually underwent radical changes, and he played a key role in the most important art trends during the first half of the 20th century.

Even at a young age, he displayed an unusual talent for drawing, and attended art education programmes in Madrid and Barcelona. In 1904, he left for Montmartre, in Paris, where he became acquainted with artists such as Georges Braque and Amadeo Modigliani. Picasso’s first sculptures date from around 1910, the Cubism period. He created several bronze sculptures again around 1930. During that same period, his fellow countryman, Julio González, taught him the technique of assemblage, and Picasso started making three-dimensional collages in iron. He later created assemblages with a Dadaist touch, constructions made from scrap metal and objects he would find, and bronze sculptures in divergent styles. He also produced models from sheet iron which he would then draw or paint on.

After the Second World War, Picasso created many ceramic works. In 1948, he had his own pottery workshop in the small village of Vallauris, in the South of France. It was there that he met the then 19-year-old Sylvette David in 1954, the daughter of a Parisian art dealer who was living in Vallauris at the time. She served as the inspiration for a series of 40 drawings, paintings and spatial studies. A few years later, in 1957, Picasso met the Norwegian sculptor Carl Nesjar. This meeting eventually evolved into what would become a 17-year collaboration, resulting in the enlargement of various models in cardboard and sheet metal in concrete, including several portraits of Sylvette.

For many years, Picasso’s three-dimensional work had not achieved nearly the same level of fame as his paintings, drawings and etchings, until several large retrospectives of his sculptures changed all that in 1960.