Picasso’s Three Actors (1933)

This 1933 drypoint of Three Actors by Picasso helps illustrate the deep debt that Picasso always felt towards Manet. The principle figure is a bearded man facing a work of art on a column. Even though it is a sculpture, the work itself is etched on paper so that the sword he holds, which we would normally interpret as a paintbrush, might more accurately be described as the sharp needle or burin with which Picasso created the etching.  

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Captions for image(s) above:

Picasso, The Three Actors (1933) Drypoint on paper.

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Around the hilt of this sword, the artist's tool in disguise, Picasso scratched the letters of Manet’s name, roughly and approximately around the semi-circle. Engravings, of course, reverse the original drawing so that Manet’s name is further disguised by mirror-writing. (The images at left have been inverted for clarity.)

If anyone doubts that the marks spell Manet’s name, try interpreting the same strokes as Rembrandt or Rubens. Only Manet’s name works. Besides, Picasso so identified with Manet that his name appears in one way or another in well over a hundred other works, probably all like this one still unseen by experts. The theme of acting here is a self-reference to Picasso's belief in painting as a performance

Stay tuned, as we reveal more of them here. 

Captions for image(s) above:

Detail and Diagram, both inverted, of The Three Actors

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Original Publication Date on EPPH: 19 Oct 2010. © 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.