Pablo Picasso

Confronted by old age and impotence, Picasso was defiantly productive. These works are drawn from the series 156 and 347 prints, which he made from 1968-1972, around the age of 90. The series has been compared to a private theatre, in which the actors are Picasso himself, his close friends, and his favourite artists of past. The fixation with sexuality and voyeurism is bound up with an awareness of mortality. For Picasso, art had become the only means to defy the approach of death.

 In 1963, Picasso decided that he needed a printmaker close to his house in the south of France at Mougins. In response, Aldo and Piero Crommelynck set up a studio nearby, where they helped him to create approximately 750 prints. Among these were illustrations for a version of Fernand's Le Cocu magnifique, and the notorious Series 347 (1968), whose erotic images created a furor when they were exhibited simultaneously in Paris and Chicago in 1968. Even though the Art Institute of Chicago withheld 25 of the prints as "unfit for public consumption", it was deluged with complaints. Although this series has gained critical acceptance, it continues to generate controversy.


 After Picasso died in 1973, Aldo and Piero Crommelynck returned to Paris, where their atelier attracted the established British artists: Richard Hamilton, David Hockney and Howard Hodgkin, as well as several younger American artists: Jim Dine, Jasper Johns and David Salle.

 In 1976, at Atelier Crommelynck, David Hockney created a portfolio of twenty etchings called The Blue Guitar: Etchings By David Hockney Who Was Inspired By Wallace Stevens Who Was Inspired By Pablo Picasso. The etchings refer to themes of a poem by Stevens, "The Man With The Blue Guitar". The portfolio was published by Petersburg Press in October 1977. That year, Petersburg also published a book, in which the images were accompanied by the poem's text.

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