Picasso, Pablo. (1881–1973)
Picasso's Sketchbook (Carnet de la Californie 1955–1956)
New York: Abrams (and Paris: Editions Cercle d'Art). 1960. First.
Folio (11.5 x 17 inches). Narrow spiral bound folio with green printed card covers, housed inside a pictorial color cloth folding slipcase with printed mylar wrapper. From the edition of 1,000 copies, this portfolio is an exact facsimile of a sketchbook Picasso worked from November 1st, 1955 to January 14th, 1956. 25 leaves, illustrated throughout with handsomely printed lithographs (20 in b/w including 1 single-sided, and 19 in color, including 10 single-sided). The 11 page text pamphlet with foreword by Georges Boudaille inserted at pocket in front. Cloth a little toned along the upper edge, rubbed and nicked at edges, mylar chipped with some losses and tears, overall fine. Sold together with an original approximately 8 x 10 inch drawing of a tree, brown crayon on paper, found tucked inside the rear pocket of the portfolio. The drawing is unsigned and we regret that authorship cannot be confirmed. But someone, at some point, may have known this was by Picasso and put it there for safekeeping.
"Around 1959, Editions Cercle d’Art published Carnet de la Californie, a facsimile of a sketchbook that Picasso worked on at his house in Cannes, La Californie. It sheds light on Picasso’s interests and focus at the time. Over and over he returned to the same themes—copies of Old Masters, and drawings of a woman in Turkish clothing, which may have been variations for his painting Jacqueline in Turkish Costume (1955), a portrait of his second wife, Jacqueline Roque. In 1954, the year before he started this sketchbook, Picasso began a series of paintings that were inspired by Eugene Delacroix’s painting The Women of Algiers in their Apartment (1834). Les Femmes d’Alger (1954–1955), Picasso’s eventual series of 15 paintings, were marked by the recent death of Henri Matisse, whose own work and interests colored much of Picasso’s work during this period. Picasso often depicted Jacqueline as an odalisque, a favorite theme of Matisse’s, and these sketches are a form of homage to Picasso’s late friend and rival. Most often, though, the studio space in La Californie is his subject. Picasso drew the room in black and white, in color, with paint, and with pencils, drawing out variation after variation. The same elements reappear throughout the book—a bird statue, grand arched windows with a hint of the room’s ornate detailing, palm trees with gracefully curved branches, and even the same chairs, including a Thonet rocking chair that can also be seen in many of the artist’s paintings. Picasso told his biographer, Pierre Daix, “I thought so much about Les Femmes d’Alger that I bought La Californie.” Carnet de la Californie was printed at Mourlot Studios, a famed lithographic print shop that specialized in artist collaborations—Picasso himself made more than four hundred lithographs at Mourlot between 1945 and 1969. Their reproduction of the sketchbook showcases the printmakers’ prowess: These lithographers, skilled at a printing process that had fallen out of favor during the 19th century due to the difficulty of using a stone plate to offset the image, were able to reproduce the brush strokes and pressure of the colored pencils with an accuracy that makes the book feel like an original. They even managed to capture the impressions from the pastels and paint that transferred from one page to the other when the notebook was closed. The sketchbook was originally created for an audience of one: Picasso himself. The beautifully reproduced notebook is an unusual chance, for the rest of us, to observe the artist’s daily practice—a studio tour of his mind." (Claire Lui, "Findings," Guggenheim.org)