PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Grappe de raisins et ciseaux
signed 'Picasso' and stamped 'Madoura Plein Feu' (underneath)
white earthenware ceramic platter with coloured engobe and glaze
Length: 15 in. (38 cm.)
Executed in 1948; this work is unique
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.
Saidenberg Gallery, New York.
Acquired circa the 1980s, and thence by descent to the present owner.
G. Ramié, Picasso's Ceramics, New Jersey, 1979, no. 62, pp. 32 & 282 (illustrated p. 32).
The Comité Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
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Lot Essay

Grappe de raisins et ciseaux presents a visual feast for the eyes; an exquisite, colourful example of Picasso’s early ceramic production, this work showcases the artist’s radical innovation of the medium. Arriving on the Cote d’Azur shortly after the end of Second World War, and now at the peak of his career, Picasso was in search of his next artistic challenge. This piece is the literal, and metaphorical, fruit of this chapter in his career.

The abundance of potteries in Provence sparked an interest in ceramics, an entirely new medium for the artist, and he was soon introduced to Georges and Suzanne Ramié, who ran the Atelier Madoura. From there, he would create over 4000 ceramic pieces between 1947 and 1971, of which Grappe de raisins et ciseaux is one of the earliest examples. Picasso’s instantly modernist style and vivid colour palette imbue the piece with his hallmark joie-de-vivre, and he playfully disrupts artistic boundaries by combining the traditionally artisanal medium with a still life composition, something typically associated with the realm of oil paintings and so-called ‘high culture’. This dish scintillates with Picasso’s energetic brushstrokes, echoing the French Riviera’s coastal blues and the bright yellow hues of the warm sunshine. The fascinating topography and shape of the piece is reinforced by the flecked rim and Picasso’s subtle application of earth coloured engobe which is found throughout the composition.

Ceramics and earthenware in part appealed to Picasso for their link to antiquity, often being the oldest surviving forms of a civilisation’s artistic expression, and indeed, the grapes within the composition of Grappe de raisins et ciseaux call to mind the classical art of Ancient Greece and Rome. Now in his 60s, these themes of history and posterity took on a new importance for Picasso as he entered his old age, simultaneously reflecting on his European heritage and becoming increasingly preoccupied with the question of his artistic legacy.

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