Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
sugarlift aquatint, Sheet: 91 x 63.6 cm (35 13/16 x 25 in.); Platemark: 83.2 x 47.3 cm (32 3/4 x 18 9/16 in.). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1997.142
During his 70-year career Pablo Picasso produced about 2,500 prints---a commitment to printmaking unmatched by any other 20th-century master. Incredibly inventive in each medium with which he worked, he learned sugarlift aquatint from the greatest intaglio pinter of the time, Rober Lacourière. A mixture of sugar syrup and ink is used to draw on a copper plate. When dry, the entire plate is covered with a varnish that is impervious to acid and put in warm water. As the sugar melts, it lifts the varnish off, exposing the copper plate where the artist has drawn. These areas are then aquatinted; fine particles of acid-resistant resin are deposited on the plate and heated so they adhere to the surface. Next, the plate is immersed in acid, which bites into the plate in tiny pools around each particle. When the plate is printed, the resulting image resembles a freely executed, grainy wash drawing with rich blacks and subtle gray tones.
Picasso's prints are often autobiographical, forming an intimate visual diary of his thoughts and experiences. The Egyptian is a portrait of Françoise Gilot who appeared in his work repeatedly after the artist met her in 1943. In this image he abstracted the figure developing such ideas as describing the subject from multiple points of view simultaneously. This is a particularly beautiful impression, a proof made before the edition of 50 was printed.
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