How Pablo Picasso’s Ceramics Changed Pottery Forever


A well-known writer on Picasso said that he
created a “ceramic poem” through his playful meditations on the mineral world and its transformation
through fire. When he was 19 years old, Picasso came to
Paris for the first time. And he met a sculptor named Paco Durrio, and
Durrio introduced him to Gauguin’s aesthetic concept, which was about primitive art and
about creating an art form that no specific geographical essence, no anthropological identity,
and that concept fueled Picasso throughout his life and, 40 years later, when he began
to work on his ceramics, he was able to create an art form that was completely unidentifiable
in terms of any geographic area or anthropological identity. It was just Picasso’s own ceramic universe. Initially, Picasso wanted to create his ceramics
to give people an opportunity to collect his work who couldn’t afford his paintings. Which, even in 1940s, were extraordinarily
valuable. In fact, he actually traded one of his still
life paintings for a house in the South of France after the war. So he began to make kind of utilitarian ceramics,
but eventually he really explored the medium and revolutionized it. Much like the invention of collage that he
created, he was creating an entirely new way of looking at an art form and transforming
it. In terms of subjects, Picasso had a wonderful,
playful panorama of ideas. He created images of the bullfight, images
of still lifes, animals, birds, fish, owls, even his pet goat Esmerelda, and images of
his wife Jacqueline, whom he met at the Madoura foundry in Vallauris, where he created his
ceramics. Mythology played an important part in the
subjects of Picasso’s ceramics, and he felt connected to that Mediterranean spirit that
goes all the way back to the Etruscans, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Iberians. He loved the fact that he was working in the
South of France in Vallauris, and that area was connected to those centuries and centuries
of artisans, who created so many spectacular examples of ceramic sculpture. In his ceramic imagery, which really runs
parallel to his etching/engraving period, Picasso was able to create a remarkable sort
of abbreviation of form. He would take the simplest lines and elements
and create such a marvelous expression with them. Particularly, these are noticeable in his
faces that he created, those amazing plates that he produced in ceramic. The interest in Picasso’s ceramics has continued
to grow and justifiably so. We see in his ceramics another example of
his unlimited imagination, his power, his incredible creativity, and now, 50 years later,
we’re still recognizing the fact that Pablo Picasso was one of the greatest artists of
all time and will go down in history as one of the most important figures ever to emerge
in the history of art.

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