Artwork Detail

Femmes d’Alger
Spanish, 1881–1973
13 3/16 x 18 "
University purchase, Nathan Cummings Fund, 1994
WU 1994.20
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Pablo Picasso, a cofounder of Cubism, was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. In addition to working in painting, sculpture, collage, and ceramics, he was also a prolific printmaker. This lithograph is related to Picasso’s series of fifteen paintings known as "Les femmes d’Alger" produced between 1954 and 1955, in which Picasso responds to the work of the nineteenth-century French painter Eugène Delacroix. Delacroix’s two paintings titled "Les femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement" "(Women of Algiers in Their Apartment," 1834 and 1848) inspired Picasso’s extensive exploration of the theme, including "Les femmes d’Alger," Variation N (WU 3898), also in the collection of the Kemper Art Museum. This lithographic variation, produced in an edition of five,was created halfway through the series of paintings and is a marked departure from the artist’s previous works on canvas. Using an engraving needle Picasso distilled the scene through the reduction of line and modeling. The lithograph is less decorative and dimensional than the paintings, which increases the legibility of the typically crowded scenes. The starkness of the black-and-white composition further enhances the sharp contrast to his vibrantly painted works. Following this lithograph, Picasso’s painted variations on the theme shifted toward increasingly simplified interiors, suggesting that his formal experimentation in lithography directly influenced his painted work. [Permanent collection text, 2018]