Pablo Picasso - La Plongeuse (The Diver)

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Original Etching, on Arches watermarked paper, etching printed over collage additions in two shades of orange, 29th November 1932, IV, Paris ,signed by the artist in pencil, with full margins,

Literature:

George Bloch “Catalogue de l’oeuvre grave et lithographie, Volume 1 (1904 - 1967) Number 1322

Brigitte Baer “Picasso Peintre-Graveur” Volume II 1932 - 1934 - Number 277.B.b

Borchardt-Hume, Achim & Nancy Ireson, eds. Picasso 1932 - Love Fame Tragedy (Tate Modern, London, March 8 - September 9, 2018). London: Tate Enterprises. 2018. (221p).

Two examples of this work are illustrated in this book. One shows the unsigned uncollated etching. The other shows a collage in yellow, red and black (pages 221/222)

Mallen, Enrique, ed. Online Picasso Project. Sam Houston State University. 1997-2018. (32:279)

Edition:  This is from the edition of 100. The proofs were signed by the artist but never numbered. The signature on our example corresponds exactly with other examples - the one in MOMA, for instance.

Printed by:  Lacouriere, Paris

Size: 250 x 330 mms (Paper size) ; 113 x 140 mms (plate size)

Note: In May 1931, Picasso moved into the Chateau de Boisgeloup, which was conveniently close to Paris. He turned the stables into a workshop, where he set up Louis Fort’s printing press a bit later. This marked the start of a whole series of experiments in engraving . In the summer of 1932, the artist’s wife Olga and son, Paulo , left for Juan-les-Pins. Picasso himself stayed on at Boisgeloup and many paintings and drawings dating June, July, August, September and October 1932 bear the annotation “Boisgeloup”. It is believed that Marie-Therese, Picasso’s mistress, may have paid a few brief visits to Boisgeloup, although this is not known for sure. She certainly was spending time on the beaches - several photographs of her from this time exist. In August and September, the artist produced a series of canvases representing women bathing at the beach. Between the 4th and 15th of September, Picasso executed a series of about twenty very small paintings, all of which represent women frolicking on the beach. Some are naked, some wear highly coloured bathing costumes, all of them are playing like children. The paintings are gay, burlesque and “cartoon-like.” The women have amoeba-like anatomy pushing and pulling in different directions, and sometimes bend their bodies with the professional movements of Picasso’s circus acrobats of February 1933. The meaning of this series may be gleaned from a small canvas, dated September 30, where a satyr is chasing a similar group of naked young virgins. Picasso made no prints during the summer, but at the end of November and the beginning of December in Paris he revisited the theme of bathing women, this time on zinc and copper plates. The result is some twenty small images. The series ended with three somewhat larger compositions, the sauvetages (life-saving).Here there is a difference with the woman of the canvases: surrounded by curious, even monstrous shapes, Marie-Therese is always there, always beautiful. In the “sauvetages” she again has multiple embodiments, one of them as an unconscious, perhaps drowned swimmer. This rescue scene is an allusion to a real story in which Marie-Therese nearly drowned before Picasso’s eyes - an experience which left him deeply shaken. The artist may have imagined that his young lover was the innocent victim of his vengeful wife, Olga, who did threaten to murder her rival, Marie-Therese. The series of works of which this is one owe much to the Surrealist movement with which the artist was involved between 1925 and 1937. Picasso had taken part in the Surrealists first exhibition and gave his permission for many of his works to be reproduced in Surrealist publications. Much to the disgust of the Surrealist leader, Andre Breton, Picasso was never a devoted follower of the movement and ultimately turned away from it. Our etching is not directed towards the “Sauvetage” series but is obviously of the same genre and shows women frolicking on the beach with one of them, looking like a pair of scissors, with legs akimbo, diving.

There are few graphic works by Picasso in which collage is employed. In this instance pieces of coloured paper are on the background of our piece. Baer speculates that the artist himself may have made these but, probably, they were created by Lacourier, the Masterprinter.

Public Collections:

Baer states that there are a number of proofs of this in several Museums including:

MOMA, New York (Their example with green and purple collage) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/59731

Art Institute Chicago

National Gallery of Art, Washington (This example with green and orange collage) https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.39466.html

Museum of Fine Art , Boston (This shows collage in several colours): https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/abstraction-la-plongeuse-166152

Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The works are also in other collections:

The Metropolitan Museum, New York (With collage, in different shapes, but similar colours to ours)

Carnegie Museum of Art (With collage in orange and yellow) https://collection.cmoa.org/objects/6c5cda51-efd7-456f-9d7a-857284176a8c?page=1&perPage=10

Muse National Picasso, Paris; Numéro d'inventaire: MP:2247

Museum of New Zealand https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/37531

Public Exhibitions: An example of this featured in the recent Tate Gallery show “The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy” illustrating works from 1932. This had been borrowed from the Musee National Picasso, Paris: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/picasso-the-diver-x59775