Picasso Museum of Barcelona

Seated Man
Signed Picasso (later) and dated 24.6.69. in the top right-hand corner
Oil on cardboard
129 x 65 cm
Donated by Pablo Vilató, 1987
MPB 112.867

The Work

In the last years of his life, Picasso surprised people again with a new aesthetic and formal revolution, little understood at the time. Picasso's last revolution in his late work shows him freeing himself from all knowledge and technique, and returning to what is natural, spontaneous and early in art – a basic immediate painting. This led to an unshackled painting without rules, an expression of his prodigious energy.

The Seated Man is a clear example of this transgressive painting known as the Avignon Period due to the two large exhibitions that were held at the Palais des Papes (1970 and 1973). Picasso here offers a series of archetypes, one of which is the hybrid being shown in this oil painting where the human and coarsest animality merge. An intriguing character emerges from the mix, with a musketeer-knight appearance, pictured vehemently with well compartmentalised contrasting colours and black outlines. It shows the materiality of the painting with thick coarse strokes and blurred areas.

Picasso turns to the mask – a symbol and fetish – to recreate the face. The facial features are animalistic but the hair and extraordinary moustache and toughness are direct references to lords from the Spanish Golden Age. The work shows the desire to express an obsessive and fantastical universe via a basic and brutal aesthetic with a characteristic graphic art from the late period, such as the hands in the form of a fan always shown facing.

Another work from this late era showing Baroque figures or with Velázquez-esque inspiration is the crayon and gouache drawing Picasso created a few months before his death: Four Characters or ‘The Conversation’ (1972, MPB 113.024).

The donation

Pablo Vilató Ruiz (the artist’s nephew, son of his sister Lola) donated two canvases from the Avignon Period in 1987 - this work, Seated Man (1969) and Head of Woman (1970, MPB 112.866).

Location

Room 16