In Picasso’s later years, he began experimenting with portrait making in a new way. He used the linocut method of gouging sheets of linoleum fused onto wooden blocks to build his desired result. Through this approach he produced a series of portraits that are bold, simple, and a predecessor to the cubism form.
Picasso’s linocut process bursted throughout a span of five years, shortly after his move to the French countryside in 1958. His implementation of this technique happened unintentionally, as he had little other choice, since it now took days rather than hours to reach his printing house in Paris.
He began playing around with the process, and was able to condense each artwork to one block, known as the ‘reduction’ method. Picasso would cut out areas of an image where he desired an absence of color, and would fill the remaining spaces with a series of colors. In the later years of this period, he was able to implement more color into each piece by placing all his cutouts onto one block. While this process simplified the pieces necessary for the end result, it required an added pressure to Picasso’s imaginative ability to foresee how the composition would transpire.
His two black and white portraits of his wife Jacqueline show mirror images of her profile, revealing insight to his creative approach.
As Picasso became more practiced with the block technique, his works became more vibrant and multifaceted. His work Buste de Femme de Jeune Fille, D’apres Cranach features a colorful rendition of an earlier linocut created in 1958. Here the viewer can see Picasso’s developed ability to predetermine the placement of details onto the finished piece prior to laying the block. This period offers the opportunity for viewers to grasp Picasso’s hand work, rather than simply viewing the end result.
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