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The treatment of the human figure in the Cubist paintings of Picasso and Braque is often reminiscent of sculpture. In this work, made in mid-1909, Picasso used planes of warm greys and burnt sienna to establish the bulk of the body. The shifting directions of the brushstrokes indicate the depth of the surfaces and enhance individual features such as the conical socket of the eye. Such techniques were inspired by African sculptures. The poet André Salmon described Picasso’s studio as filled with the ‘strange wooden grimaces... [of] a superb selection of African and Polynesian sculpture’.

July 2013