Picasso, Head of a Harlequin
The works on display by Pablo Picasso document multiple phases of his long and complex artistic career. The absolute protagonist of 20th-century art and central figure in the development of Modernism, Picasso expressed himself through the most diverse and experimental techniques and media. Printmaking and drawing, however, always occupied a particularly prominent place in his artistic enquiry. An exceptional draughtsman, Picasso was able to choreograph line and gesture in extraordinary ways, passing effortlessly from elaborate compositions of the most traditional sort to essential figures built of stripped-down forms, perfect in their apparent simplicity. The Head of a Harlequin in pencil and pastel, created when he was 90 years old, exemplifies the final period of his production. Picasso, who at the age of 15 was already painting at an adult level, loved to say that he had spent his whole life trying to become a child again – thatis, to strip himself of the structures and technical knowledge that had encumbered him since he was a boy. Picasso sought to rediscover the purity and immediacy of childhood creativity, in an apparent regression that would reach its peak in his last works, in which the artist’s creative imagination moves freely, with a now unconstrained spontaneity of gesture and colour.