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Work of the Week: Picasso

Picasso, Fernande Head

We've talked about this year being the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show, but this Sunday, March 24, marks the exact day that this landmark exhibition opened at the Art Institute a century ago. We've also talked about the exhibition Picasso and Chicago, which celebrates the artist's connection with our fair city, beginning with the Armory Show. And so for our work of the week, I thought an object that was in both the 1913 and 2013 shows would be most appropriate.

Picasso created this Cubist sculpture of his mistress, Fernande Olivier, in the fall of 1909, during which time Fernande served frequently as a  subject for the artist. Cubism—as conceived by Picasso and fellow artist George Braque—presents an object from several perspectives simultaneously. Here we see faceted forms that give us a sense of both the inside and outside of Fernande's head, illustrated as repeating convex shapes.

At the time of the Armory Show, the sculpture was owned by photographer, collector, and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz. After Stieglitz's death, it came to the Art Institute as a gift, along with many other works, including the drawing for the sculpture seen adjacent to it in the exhibition.

Image Credit: Pablo Picasso. Head of a Woman (Fernande), 1909. The Art Institute of Chicago, Alfred Stieglitz Collection. © 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.