Picasso’s Reclining Nude, Fernande (1906)

This drawing of the young Picasso's new girlfriend, Fernande, was drawn while on a summer vacation in a small mountain village, Gósol, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. It seems simple enough, a nude drawing of his girlfriend. Remember, though, if it was what it seems, it wouldn't be by Picasso. Note her hair. Are we looking at fingers? Picasso has so placed her right elbow, and so drawn her hair, that it looks as if the fingers of her right hand are emerging from underneath her scarf.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Picasso, Reclining Nude (Fernande) (Summer 1906) Gouache on Ingres paper. Cleveland Museum of Art

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Fernande was French, not Spanish, so Susan Grace Galassi was correct to note that "the scarf frames the head and endows Fernande with a Catalan identity that connects her to Picasso's adopted home in Spain."1 What she fails to recognize, though, is that the scarf in making her "Spanish" makes her Picasso's feminine alter ego. A gendered mind, after all, cannot be universal. The framed head is "Picasso's mind" and the hair is "his hand", the two symbols of the artist's craft united. Picasso would not have approved of Conceptual Art. To him, the hand was as important as the mind just as the artist's mind must be androgynous too.

Captions for image(s) above:

Detail of Picasso's Reclining Nude (Fernande)

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Notes:

1. Picasso's Drawings, 1890-1921 (New York: Frick Collection) p. 128

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 22 Dec 2011. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.