[ P ] Pablo Picasso - Tête d'Homme (1969)
"The present work is a bold and expressive male portrait which Picasso executed in July 1969. Encompassing almost the entire sheet, the monumentalised head conveys a range of honest emotions particular to this time in the artist's life. It is built up from strong, swirling lines of precise colours imbued with a frenetic sense of energy.
"Towards the end of his life, Picasso rebelled against time by completely immersing himself in his art. The period bore witness to an incredible output of work, executed with remarkable vigour and boldness. Musketeers, acrobats, Pierrots, painters and smokers continued to populate his compositions. However, when considered in the context of looming mortality, these subjects took on new meanings. Marie-Laure Bernadac wrote of the figures from this period: 'With their bearded, elongated faces, their huge questioning eyes, their long hair with or without hats, these "Heads" represent one last concession on the painter's part to the "all-too-human". By contrast with the musketeers who all have the same face –these are true portraits, strongly characterised and individual.' She continues, 'Picasso's confrontation with the human face, which makes him into the great portrait-painter of the twentieth century, brings him back to a confrontation with himself, the painter, young or old'
All male figures in Picasso's late work are understood to be disguised portraits of the artist himself, and their iconography is indicative of his self-awareness in his mature years. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the subject of painter and his model accounted for a large part of Picasso's creative output. In the present work, however, he eliminated the female model and focused entirely on the male figure. Picasso made no attempt here to create a spatial or naturalistic portrait. Rather, his quick brushstrokes give the figure's face a mask-like quality, exaggerating the features and using a technique developed in his earlier works. In particular, the treatment of eyes and nose is evocative of his depictions of Dora Maar from the late 1930s."