Sylvette (1970) Pablo Picasso & Carl Nesjar

BKOR archive
About the artwork

The concrete drawing is from the twenty-year-old Sylvette, Picasso's muse, whom he met in the spring of 1954. Picasso was already 73 years old. He drew her with a proudly raised head, slender neck and the hair in a ponytail high on the head. Sylvette acted as model for around forty drawings, paintings and small spatial installations of metal. He depicted her in all the different styles that he once used as an artist in his life, including the cubist style that he had developed with Georges Braque at the beginning of the twentieth century. This Sylvette series illustrated the development of modern art, and more precisely the development of Picasso as an artist. The series also had its influence on the fashion scene in Paris. Girls with the hairstyle and the proud attitude a la Picasso filled the streets in the fifties. In 1957, Picasso got to know Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar, who invented a new technique that could be used to make large constructions. Small black stones were poured into the concrete. The black color appeared through sandblasting. In this way it was possible to draw with the sandblast in the concrete. Picasso was impressed and, using the technology of Nesjar, enlarged his drawings into monumental installations. The Urban Embellishment Commission wanted to purchase such a concrete sculpture in 1963, but the population did not like a concrete colossus. In 1971, Rotterdam still got 'his Picasso'. The Bouwcentrum purchased the work and donated it to the municipality as part of the C70; a post-war event to celebrate the reconstruction of Rotterdam. The image of Picasso was meant to underline the modern and progressive character of the city. Picasso and Nesjar enlarged a tin sculpture to a seven and a half meter high and four and a half meter wide Sylvette, sandblasted on front and back. For more information: Sculpture International Rotterdam

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About Pablo Picasso

Pablo Ruíz y Picasso (Málaga, Spain - 1881) is seen as one of the most versatile artists of the twentieth century. He was not only a painter and graphic artist, but also a sculptor and ceramicist. His work underwent radical changes throughout his career and he had a share in the most important artistic movements of the first half of the twentieth century.
Already at a young age his exceptional drawing talent shows and he attends art courses in Madrid and Barcelona. In 1904 he left for Montmartre in Paris and became acquainted with artists such as Georges Braque and Amadeo Modigliani. Picasso's first plastics date from around 1910, the period of cubism. Around 1930 he again made a number of bronze sculptures. At the same time, his countryman Julio González taught him the assembly technique and Picasso made three-dimensional 'collages' in iron. Even later, Dadaist-like assemblies, scrap and found object operations, and bronze plastics in a variety of styles were created. He also made models from sheet iron, which he subsequently painted or painted. After the Second World War, Picasso made a lot of ceramics. In 1948 he had his own ceramics workshop in the village of Vallauris, southern France. There, in 1954, he met the then nineteen-year-old Sylvette David, daughter of a Parisian art dealer, who was temporarily staying in Vallauris. She was the inspiration for a series of forty drawings, paintings and spatial studies.

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About Carl Nesjar

In 1957, Picasso meets the Norwegian sculptor Carl Nesjar (1920 - 2015). A seventeen-year collaboration with him is created, resulting in the enlargement of various models of cardboard and metal sheet in concrete, including some portraits of Sylvette. For years, Picasso's three-dimensional work was not nearly as well-known as his paintings, drawings and prints, until some major retrospective exhibitions of his sculptures changed that in 1960.

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