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Marie-Thérèse considérant son Effigie surréaliste sculptée (Bloch 187)

1933 (May 4, Paris)

Etching printed on Montval laid paper with Montgolfier watermark
From the Suite Vollard (S.V. 74), edition of 50
Inscribed "187, 335, 19649" in pencil, upper left verso
Printed by Lacourière, 1939
Published by Vollard, 1939
Image: 10 1/2 x 7 5/8 inches
Sheet: 19 3/4 x 15 1/4 inches
Framed: 23 1/8 x 19 3/8 inches
(Bloch 187) (Baer 346.B.c)

The pretty young model in this image studies an abstract Surrealist sculpture of herself, clearly somewhat perplexed. The young woman is, of course, Picasso’s mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. Surrealism had taken hold of the Parisian art world when this plate was created. Picasso seems to be having a little fun here, both with the fact that Marie-Thérèse was unable to fully appreciate the avant-garde artwork her lover created, as well as indulging in a little playful fantasy of the possibilities of Surrealist sculpture. The whimsical figure is composed of a variety of objects and textures, from furniture legs to textiles, and her bead-like eyes seem to peer at the living woman with an equal level of curiosity, almost as if she finds her alien as well.

 

Though Picasso was heavily involved in sculpture throughout the early 1930s, and was friends with many of the leaders of Surrealism, he never actually created sculpture along these lines. He generally distanced himself from the movement, though he was interested in some of the ideas behind Surrealism borrowing from some of its theories on occasion for his own purposes. The Minotaur—a half-bull, half-man figure that becomes the artist’s alter ego in later etchings of the Suite Vollard and in his master print Minotauromachy—is the only aspect of his work that he openly connected to Surrealist influences.