Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), one of the most influential artists of our time, started his “Bull plates” project in 1945.
He worked on a set of plates, from one to eleven, between 1945 and 1946.
The artist crafted this suite of lithographs that have become a great illustration on how to make evolve an artwork from the academic to the abstract.
This showed the progression from realistic form to a few curving lines. In this sequence of masterpieces, done with a single stone, Picasso broke down the image of a bull to different parts and fragments, to reveal its truest form. Each lithograph is going further; step by step the artist goes deeper in his analysis in order to unleash the “soul” of the beast.
To start his investigation, Picasso begins with a realistic brush drawing of the bull in lithographic ink. It is a spur-of-the-moment image that builds the foundations of the series that will lead to a progressive dissection of the bull’s shape. The successive stages of the plates will then turn into a rebirth of the Bull’s form to disclose its “authentic spirit”. Tone and detail have been discarded: the bull was stripped back to its original substance.
Picasso used the bull as a metaphor throughout his career but he refused to be restrained to its meaning. Depending on the context, it has been read in various ways: as a criticism of fascism and violence, as a representation of the Spanish people; as a symbol of virility; or as a constant introspection and a search of the self-image of Picasso…