Picasso Museum of Barcelona

Painter Working
Signed Picasso in the bottom left-hand corner and dated 31.3.65 II on the back
Oil and Ripolin on canvas
100 x 81 cm
Acquisition, 1968
MPB 70.810

The Work

The theme of the artist and model would be constant throughout Picasso’s life. It appears in his youthful work and also in the 1930s etchings in the Suite Vollard and Le Chef d’Oeuvre Inconnu. Nonetheless, it is in the last twenty years of his life (1953-1973) when they reach their zenith and painting becomes a model, subject or example. The artist, able to create, interpret and transform reality, became the centre of the work. The role given to the disproportionate figure of the painter in Las Meninas (group, 1957) to many etchings from 1963 to 1971 entitled Painter Working, The Model and Painter, The Painter and Model, Model Posing and Painter, Old Painter and Old Model, Painter at the Canvas may be seen at the Museum.

The oil painting Painter Working shows the start of some formal aspects of his late style beginning in 1964. He then developed a new pictorial expression based on great freedom and spontaneity, a basic aesthetic. The shorthand style, materiality of painting, often very dense or very fine brushstrokes and the marked brush outlines stand out.

It seems as if after having seen it all, in old-age Picasso leaves it all. Some critics see it as a creative act of decrepitude, a return to the simplicity of childhood, to naivety whereas others see it as a sign of having gone beyond everything to the maximum expression of the infinite freedom in pictorial space.

This painting contains subtle pink, blue and grey tones which the artist complements with white to give the work immense luminosity.


Room 16