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In the early years of cubism, Picasso constructed his images using small facets, or geometric planes, and represented objects from different viewpoints. Many critics of the period believed the artist aimed to represent reality in a new, almost scientific manner. However, as this atmospheric painting shows, Picasso could use this technique for expressive ends. Here, the woman has been all but stripped of her humanity and appears strangely mechanistic. At the same time, Picasso demonstrates his awareness of tradition in her pose and in the play of light within the picture.

May 2012