The 1920s was a period of personal contentment and artistic satisfaction for Pablo Picasso, a fresh beginning after the chaos of WWI. With a new home and studio in a chic Parisian arrondissement, Picasso’s days as a starving artist were behind him, and, as the decade progressed, his work and reputation grew exponentially.
Stylistically during this time, Picasso vacillated between the two commanding yet fundamentally different artistic movements popular in avant-garde Paris: Cubism and Neo-Classicism. Picasso seamlessly switched between these styles, consistently confronting expectations and this flexibility and mastery of both genres allowed him to maintain his position as one of the leading characters in the story modern art.
Picasso feverishly worked on dozens of small format gouache works during this time period and each are crucial to understanding the gradual progression from the artist’s purely abstract Cubist art to more neoclassical compositions that characterized the 1920s. On an intimate scale in the present work, Picasso continues to explore new ways to infuse configurations of everyday life with the impression of volume in from a flat space. The striated lines emphasize the figures in the forefront of the image creating depth and dimension. As friend and biographer John Richardson noted in his book, Picasso, An American Tribute, “No longer did Picasso feel obligated to investigate the intricate formal and spatial problems that preoccupied him ten years before. Instead he felt free to relax and exploit his cubist discoveries in a decorative manner that delights the eye…Never again did the artist’s style recapture the air of magisterial calm that is such a feature of this last great phase of Cubism," (p. 52).
A highlight in Hindman’s upcoming American and European Art sale, Abstract Composition (1920) by Pablo Picasso comes from a private Chicago estate and is valued at $200,000 to $400,000. The sale will take place on Thursday, May 23 at 10 a.m. at Hindman’s Chicago headquarters, with the catalog now available online for preview.