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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Figure (Project for a Monument to Guiillaume Apollinaire)

Fall 1928
Wire and sheet metal, 37.5 x 10 x 19.6 cm
Musée national Picasso-Paris. Acceptance in Lieu, 1979. MP266. On loan to Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris. Pablo Picasso 
© Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2019


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In 1928, Picasso created a series of maquettes for the monument to his friend, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had died ten years earlier. This was the second project that he presented, after the first commission failed. In the creational process he counted on the advice of the sculptor Julio González, a boyhood friend and master of the iron technique.


Although this proposal was also rejected by the Society of Friends of the poet, the collaboration between Picasso and González resulted in an exchange of the expertise which would last until 1931 and in the creation of a series of works that would revolutionize sculpture of the 20th century.


From this relationship Picasso acquired the ability to handle and employ iron to “draw in space”, a phrase that Julio González used in a series of notes later titled Picasso sculpteur et les cathédrales.


Picasso wanted the monument to Apollinaire to be, in every aspect, a radical work that would match the poet whom he honored, and many of his reflections thereupon would lead to a new type of sculpture with a clearly pictorial nature.


In 1929, three years before Julio González made the comments about his collaboration with Picasso, critics used the term “drawing in space” to describe the wire sculptures by Calder. Alexander S. C. Rower, a grandson of the American artist, indicates this parallel: 


Calder and Picasso shared a preoccupation with the void. Physical matter and invisible matter, or anti-matter, were imperative in the creation of their works of art. For Calder, the art happens where the material meets the immaterial, where the metal of his mobiles slices through the air. It’s a kind of performance. As for Picasso, it began with a series of line and dot drawings. These points of light have interconnecting lines of tension that define a captured void-space. This idea originated in celestial maps, and culminated in his great Monument to Apollinaire.