This week, more than 100 ceramics by Picasso will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in London. But while Picasso is famed for invention, his efforts to draw and paint with ceramics seem ordinary. One look at what he chose to draw and paint makes the point. Would you believe cutesy animals?
The words of Sotheby’s Head of Prints in Europe, Séverine Nackers suggests the appeal. The auction, he said, “represents a wonderful opportunity for collectors to acquire their own work of art by one of the twentieth century’s most famous artists.”
Apparently the fact that a famous artist decorated this crockery – forget what it looks like – is worth art lovers’ time. At least one example may be worth celebrity-seekers’’ time: the first set of a 13-piece Service Visage Noir adorned with half human-half goat figures was given as a wedding gift to Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth.
Picasso made ceramics from age 64 to his death at 84, years said to have been his happiest. Maybe that’s why the art-history-maker of the 20th century would bother to paint such things as a dachshund called “Lump” on a dinner plate. In 2011, this plate went on exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin under the banner “Culture Unbound; Collecting in the Twentieth Century.”
If art is food for the soul, Picasso’s crockery painted and or shaped to look like animals isn’t filling. In fact, it seems like a joke. It’s the way he talks about it, too: “To make a dove, you must first wring its neck.''
A joke it is. Just don't call it art, not from the artist who painted the gored horse with its rolling eyes in “Guernica.” Painting Lump on a plate is tantamount to a film noire director doing an animated Disney cartoon that looks like an animated Disney cartoon.
The irony is that Picasso got into ceramics for a serious reason. He was looking for greater durability for the colors in his painting. On small still lifes, he lathered glazes, and tile painting wasn't far behind; although his attraction to pottery had less to do with technique and more to do with wanting to make three-dimensional paintings. But of daschunds?
This is nothing new, of course. The Greeks made pottery - and better. http://www.examiner.com/article/who-are-the-rightful-owners-of-tampa-museum-s-antiquities A platter by Picasso called “Faun's Head'' shows a face with a silly smile on it. It must have been fun to slap-dashing paint on such an everyday object. It’s just hard to take it seriously, and from the look of it, he didn’t, either.
Picasso's ceramics are the stuff of a man amusing himself. But he can be excused. His “Guernica,” possibly the best anti-war painting ever, redeems him.