Christie’s London Impressionist and Modern sale as two interesting Picasso works. The first is a late work from 1960, Nu Accroupi, that had a hard time selling in the days before the current boom in the artist’s late work, according to Scott Reyburn:
Pablo Picasso’s muscular nude “Nu accroupi,” painted on Valentine’s Day, 1960, failed to sell when offered at auction for $2.5 million to $3 million in 1998. Picasso’s late paintings have since been re-evaluated, particularly by collectors of contemporary art, and it is being re-offered with an estimate of 3 million pounds to 5 million pounds.
This sale comes at the tail end of the Picasso boom when the market for the master’s work has long since moved into lower-value and overlooked works like his ceramics searching for something that isn’t already at full price. So Christie’s is coming at the Picasso market from another angle with this work on paper:
– Minotaure aveugle conduit par une petite fille, 1934, by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is offered for the first time in a generation from an important European collection, where it has been since the 1980s (estimate: £2.8-3.5 million, illustrated left). The artist’s greatest biographer John Richardson noted: ‘[Picasso] identifies above all with the Minotaur, this mythological creature who was half bull and half man, to whom maidens had to be sacrificed. However, Picasso’s Minotaur is not always a monster; on the contrary, he is a poignant creature, a victim like himself of misfortune and tragedy – blinded by fate and love for the little girl – Marie-Thérèse, of course – who leads him around.’ Dating from the pinnacle of his involvement with and exploration of the theme of the Minotaur, this rare work on paper on the subject is a showcase for Picasso’s exquisite draughtsmanship. The flashes of colour add to the overall effect, introducing the lapis blue of the Mediterranean as well as the brown of the bull’s head, the red of the girl’s clothes and the vibrant green of her flowers. The profile of the girl unmistakably echoes the features of Picasso’s young lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who since the late 1920s had been his Muse, ushering a new sensuality into his works and resulting in many of the flowing, fluid depictions of female figures that remain among his most celebrated works. During the mid-1930s, when Picasso’s marriage to Olga was causing great problems, in part because of his relationship with Marie-Thérèse, he presented the Minotaur increasingly as a tortured victim of persecution and pursuit, wounded, gored or blinded by the world around it.