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Picasso Black and White

Picasso Woman Ironing
Written by Aksel Ritenis

Picasso Black and White

Written by Christine Ritenis

New York Art Correspondent for Connoisseur Magazine



Picasso Woman Ironing

Her shoulder is sharp and angular, her torso slender, and strands of moist-looking hair drape her face, as if effort had caused them to slip out of a hair clip or tie. Her upper body leans forward, its full weight on the iron, and her lips are a straight line. “Woman Ironing,” an oil painting by Pablo Picasso that is currently on display in Picasso Black and White at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, gives the impression that the ironer has labored for a lifetime and that the backbreaking task will occupy her until death. Created during Picasso’s Blue Period, the painting evokes many of the themes that most concerned him then—loneliness, poverty, and despair—and demonstrates his fascination with solitary figures. There are touches of yellow, perhaps a spot of red, but the tones are overwhelmingly gray, reflecting the woman’s grim reality. Despite the wretchedness portrayed, the oil is beautiful, heart-stopping even.

It is appropriate that an exhibition focusing on Picasso’s black and white palette is shown at the Guggenheim, where the building structure is unmatched in its ability to display the work chronologically. The visitor begins on the ground floor, winding his way up a circular ramp to study art that dates from 1904, when “Woman Ironing” was painted, to 1971. Picasso is not identified with one black and white period. These 118 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, organized by Carmen Gimenez, the museum’s Curator of Twentieth Century Art, demonstrate how the motif of black, white, and gray evolved throughout his career. “Reported to have said that color ‘weakens,’ Picasso purged and isolated color from his work in order to highlight its formal structure and assert its autonomy.”

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Axel is the Editor and Publisher of Connoisseur Magazine "for the Finer Things in Life" and has been the custodian of the magazine for over 10 years and leader of a team of freelance Journalists and Community Members who continue to make it all happen!-Join the Team at Connoisseur Magazine!

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