Image Analysis (Opinion): Femme au Jardin, Pablo Picasso and Julio Gonzalez

Femme au Jardin, Picasso and Gonzalez, 1929-30
Femme au Jardin contains many difficult planes and interactions between the disparate pieces and as Picasso was not trained in sculpture he would have neededGonzàlez’s expertise in order to achieve the assemblage. The sculpture, as in Cubist Painting, takes elements of a scene, reduces them to basic forms and mixes them up.

On close scrutiny you can understand the flick on the top right to be titular woman’s hair, her arms looping round under her elongated neck, a bean shaped kidney inside the loose form of her body, the skewed table angle and legs, and the exuberantly blooming flowers on the left. The disjointed components, inspired by natural forms but brought together in a harsh material, explore the Cubist idea of deconstruction while at the same time, the reconstructing of scraps gathered from the “cutting room floor” and repurposed to make something new, allude to a rebirth or repurposing.

Picasso with Femme au Jardin
Picasso and Gonzalez, 1929-30
There are two versions of this sculpture which was the last in a series of unsuccessful designs to mark the grave of Picasso’s longtime friend: the poet ApollinairePicasso worked in collaboration with the sculptor Gonzàlez to produce these assemblages from scraps of found metal within Gonzàlez’s studio in France. The original sculpture is white-washed, giving the piece a more uniform and lighter appearance, but Picasso asked Gonzàlez to make a copy, which is the unpainted version. 

On initial viewing the sculpture bears little relation to a traditional grave-marker or the poet for whom it memorialises. However, Apollinaire had been an early champion of Picasso’s cubist constructions and assemblages and the series of sculptures Picasso designed for the memorial hark after a personal celebration of friendship as opposed to a weighty reflection on death. It is as if Picasso, as a cathartic mourning tool, wanted to create a final parting gift to Apollinaire: the perfect sculpture according to his friend’s taste.

** During semester one of my Second Year of Contemporary Art Practice, we were set eight images to analyse in order to practice writing about Art works. I will present the series backward. This is image two. **

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