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Bust of a Woman, 1923

Pablo Picasso
Spanish, 1881-1973
Oil with fixed black chalk on canvas
39-1/4 x 32 in. (99.7 x 81.3 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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In the years following the First World War—a time of bewildering flux throughout Europe—Picasso participated in a broader cultural phenomenon known as the rappel à l’ordre (call to order). Like many other radical artists of the previous decade, he now turned to classical tradition in search of a stable aesthetic vocabulary; the result was a body of work emphasizing tone over color, and featuring figures that seemed carved from light and shadow. This picture—not really a painting at all, but a monumental drawing in black chalk on prepared canvas—affords a prime example. Blending, stumping, and erasing his dry medium, Picasso conjured the pensive, statuesque figure from a penumbra of chalk.

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