Ceramics and Silver Plates of Picasso
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) was one of the 20th century’s prominent and prolific artists. An exhibition of his handmade silver plates and ceramics is held at the China Millennium Monument.
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) was an influential Spanish painter and sculptor. He was also regarded as one of the 20th century's prominent and prolific artists. The exhibition The Inspiration of Modern Masters- Pablo Picasso’s Handmade Silver Plates and Ceramics is being held in the World Art Exhibition Hall at the China Millennium Monument.
It showcases 23 silver plates, 20 ceramic plates, 2 glazed ceramic blocks and 6 pottery wares by Picasso, each bearing his signature. The exhibition lasts until August 31.
Picasso was one of the most creative and influential artists in the West and a leading figure of modern art in the 20th century. The name “Picasso” will always be connected with his artistic achievements, particularly paintings. This Spanish artist created works of various styles and genres with outstanding sculpture, blocks and ceramics in his later years.
He was also successful in crossover art. His paintings were unique, with symbolic significance, and his handmade ceramics and sculptures showed the work of a versatile artist.
The silver plates, ceramic plates, glazed ceramic blocks and pottery wares on show were all handmade by Picasso. They are all numbered, with Picasso's signature. All are authentic, with no replicas. The exhibit displays Picasso's three stages of creating ceramics and his artistic accomplishments.
Picasso loved trying new things. His drawing attempts on creating silver wares and ceramics weren't confined to reproducing classic works, but integrated modern innovation and creation. Themes include “pull fighting” which ran though Picasso's art life, constellations, children, owls and hens. The 23 silver plates were created in 1955 and 1956 and still glisten after more than 50 years.
Ceramic Works of Art
Making ceramics was an important part of Picasso's life. In 1946, Picasso visited the ceramics expo in Vallauris, a seaside town in southeastern France and a centre for ceramics production since ancient Roman times. This marked the beginning
of Picasso's interest with ceramic art.
Picasso's trip to the expo sparked his enthusiasm for creating ceramics, enchanted by the freedom and expressive nature of the medium. With his artistic talent and boundless imagination, he created ceramics which rivals that of his oil paintings, sketches and sculptures.
Early on, Picasso knew little about ceramics and only sketched on readymade ceramic plates. This was the first stage, known as the “graphic stage.” Relying on his drawing and sculpting techniques, he soon showed skill in making ceramics.
Among the exhibits, one is called “Heidi yu pan,” an oval plate with a fish drawn at the bottom of the plate in blue, green, black and white. These were commonly used colours in ceramic workshops at that time. The plate is large with a wide edge and thick bottom.
Picasso broke through this “graphic creation” and turned to dimensional ceramics such as water jugs, his second stage. He attempted to make small changes on necks and handles of ceramic objects and drew on them. He even altered the shape of jars. The “Face” exhibit is a piece from this period. Picasso made use of the jug's shape and drew a woman's face on its front side and braids of hair on the handle.
In the third stage, Picasso drew on ceramics that he made. The “Owl” jugs are representative works of this stage: a pair of owls drawn on symmetrical jars. The owl's head was drawn on the upper section of the jug whose mouth was decorated into the owl's beak. The belly was drawn in the middle section, the tail on the jug handle, and the feet on the bottom.
“Owls” are frequently seen in Picasso's works. “A White Owl on Red Plate” on display was made in 1957, during which Picasso was with artist Francoise Gilot. One day, they saw an injured owl and took it home. The owl later became a member of the family. From then on, “Owls” became a favourite theme of Picasso's work.
Focus on Women
“Women” is another topic of Picasso's works. Women, warts and all, were a common subject in his work, shaped on ceramics and silver wares. Besides using a canvas and paint, ceramics and silver wares helped to realise his fantastical ideas.
At the exhibition, visitors can see different women drawn on porcelain wares. Their plump build and charm are illustrated and displayed with a unique artistic drawing. The exhibits
“The Profile of a Girl” and “A Girl in front of the Tripod” from 1955 portray women on silver plates with exaggerated use of line. Taking on an abstract appearance, five sense organs are arranged with the application of dimensional drawing methods to present images of the face in different angles.
The ceramic block “Lunch on the Grass” on show should be viewed carefully. Picasso created it by imitating the oil painting of the same name by Édouard Manet, a primary figure of the Impressionist movement. Manet created this work in 1863, at the time arousing response in art circles for its unique composition and portrait of a woman. This brought inspiration to other artists with different styles. During the 1950s and 1960s, after Picasso drew inspiration from painting, he was able to complete many oil paintings, blocks and sketches for sculpting. Among them, “Lunch on the Grass” is a quintessential ceramic work.
Pablo Picasso’s “Owl” jugs
Picasso’s silver plate titled “Profile of a Girl”
Picasso’s “Face” plate