Narrator: Picasso created Death’s Head in 1941, while the Germans occupied the city of Paris during World War II:
Ann Temkin: Picasso himself had been designated what the Germans called a "degenerate artist," a modern artist whose work was, therefore, banned from exhibition and banned from publication.
The fact that he chose to cast this work in bronze was an act of silent rebellion against the Nazis because it was absolutely forbidden to use bronze for casting. Metal was needed for ammunition, and there was absolutely no metal being used for art.
In fact, the Germans were taking sculptures from the Parisian streets and melting them down to use their metal. So the fact that somehow, clandestinely, Picasso was figuring out how to get his sculptures to a foundry to be cast in bronze so that they would have a chance at permanence, was incredibly defiant and courageous at a time when the danger was extremely real.