Picasso’s Woman in an Armchair (1948)

Picasso's 1948 lithograph of his new partner, the painter Françoise Gilot, depicts her enthroned like a queen with symbols of fertility embroidered on the billowing sleeves of her dress. She is fertile as a woman, of course, but she must also be androgynous.

The strikingly phallic form between her legs, supposedly the cuff of her sleeve, leaves no doubt about that. In giving his lover and female reflection a phallus Picasso represents his mind as pure and androgynous as all truly creative minds must be in order to have any claim to universality.

Click next thumbnail to continue

Captions for image(s) above:

Picasso, Woman in an Armchair (1948) Lithograph on paper

Click image to enlarge.

Five years earlier Picasso had turned the right arm of his former mistress, Dora Maar, into a giant phallus as well for the same reason.  She, too, is enthroned with her chair-back resembling a blank canvas colored like canvas. Neither of these phalluses, quite striking once seen, have been noted before but, even if they had been, they are more likely to have been linked to Picasso's sexual appetite than to the purity of his mind.

Click next thumbnail to continue

 

Captions for image(s) above:

Picasso, Seated Woman (23rd Sept. 1943) Oil on canvas. Private Collection.

Click image to enlarge.

Note too how the chair-back is framed by two Ps for Pablo Picasso, like that in his signature (right).1 Gilot looks royal, fertile and androgynous, a modern goddess whose throne becomes Picasso's "canvas". She is a fusion of two scenes: that  of the artist in front of the "canvas" with the picture itself as seen in Picasso's mind on its conception.

Captions for image(s) above:

Two details of Picasso's Woman in an Armchair

Click image to enlarge.

Notes:

1. Françcoise's left breast perched on top of a straight line would appear to form another P as well.

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 15 Mar 2013. © 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.