Pablo Picasso originally molded this portrait of Fernande Olivier out of clay. Can you see how he pushed and pulled the clay to form her nose, eyes, cheeks, and hair? Picasso wasn’t trying to make her look the way she looked in real life. Instead, he wanted us to see her from many angles at once.
Gallery label from 2019, for kids
Picasso sculpted Woman's Head (Fernande) out of clay in Paris in the fall of 1909. It was made directly after the artist spent the summer in Horta de Ebro, Spain, where he painted numerous portraits of his companion, Fernande Olivier. Woman's Head (Fernande) shows Picasso working through ideas that would become central to Cubism. The sculpture maintains the basic shape of a head, but its projected and recessed planes break down solid mass into shifting volumes that are suggestive of different points of view.
Picasso's dealer, Ambroise Vollard, bought the original clay version from Picasso in 1910, and with the artist's permission he arranged for it to be cast in plaster and then in bronze.
Gallery label from Focus: Picasso Sculpture, July 3–November 3, 2008