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Tete de Jeune Homme

Pablo Picasso

European Art

This sculptural head, densely built up in layered marks of grease crayon, is a prime example of Pablo Picasso’s classicizing works of the late 1910s through the early 1920s. His works in this idiom—concurrent with his more abstracted Cubist imagery—were inspired in part by his encounter with ancient Roman statuary in Italy in 1917, as well as by earlier artists such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. The introspective visage of the young man in this drawing is likely based on the head of the marble Farnese Antinous in Naples. Although some critics rebuked Picasso for seeming to abandon modernism for what many considered a depleted historical language, the artist made no such distinctions, stating: “To me there is no past or future in art. . . . The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was.”

This style can also be understood as part of a broader artistic reaction to the upheaval and mechanized slaughter of the First World War. In contrast to Otto Dix’s graphic postwar imagery, on view nearby, Picasso’s serene drawing reflects the shift toward the humanistic, idealizing forms seen in many works during this period.
MEDIUM Grease crayon on pink Michallet laid paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1923
    DIMENSIONS 24 1/2 x 18 5/8 in. (62.1 x 47.4 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Lower right in graphite: "Picasso"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Carll H. de Silver Fund
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1938, provenance not yet documented; by November 1938, acquired by Louis Carré and Rouland Balay of Paris, France; 1939, purchased from Louis Carré and Rouland Balay by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973). Tete de Jeune Homme, 1923. Grease crayon on pink Michallet laid paper, 24 1/2 x 18 5/8 in. (62.1 x 47.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Carll H. de Silver Fund, 39.18. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 39.18_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 39.18_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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