For me, the name Picasso conjures images of, somewhat disturbing, cubist portraits. The tragic figure of Weeping Woman, painted in 1937, is a fitting case in point.
What I didn’t realise, until a visit to the NGV last year, is that he was also a prolific ceramicist. Spanish born Pablo Picasso was well into his sixties when he met Suzanne Ramie, one of the owners of Madoura Pottery, on a trip to the south of France. Already an accomplished artist, he was eager to experiment with this new medium and learn all he could from Suzanne. He set up his own workshop close by in the town of Vallauris and over the years, produced thousands of pieces as well as creating new ways of decorating and glazing. The Picasso’s Ceramics exhibition displayed fifty nine of his works, unfortunately I only have a few to share with you. Feminine faces and figures featured across the collection,
grand vase aux femmes voilées depicts the backs of four women, their nakedness partially covered with translucent veils.
Another favoured subject was birds, particularly owls with distinct personalities.
Picasso’s interest in mythology is reflected with the playful imagery of fauns,
satyrs and goats.
Bullfighting was another recurring theme with many works detailing bulls, matadors and bull-rings.
One of the things about ceramics that appealed to Picasso was the ability to create new works quickly and inexpensively. By producing editions of up to 500, as well as originals, he liked the idea that his pieces would be affordable for everyday people, not just the wealthy. That may have been the case at one time but the price tag these days is definitely out of reach for most of us.