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: Sculpture by Painters: Picasso

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Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Few people realize that the prodigious genius of the twentieth century, Picasso, has been producing highly original sculpture in various media for more than fifty years. His career as a sculptor has more or less paralleled his career as a painter. In 1905 his modeling in the classic tradition related to his rose period; in 1910 he was carving and constructing abstractions related to his cubist period; in 1920 he was developing new techniques in construction under the direction of Gonzalez; and in recent years he has devised almost ingenious method of combining accidentally found objects with modeling in clay to produce a series of fascinating animals. This approach, reaching its climax in the Institute's Monkey and her Baby, is the counterpart in sculpture of collage in painting.One of five casts in bronze from Picasso's original model which consisted of a toy automobile and other automobile parts related to each other through careful modeling in clay, the Monkey and Her Baby combines wit with tenderness and understanding. Although executed in 1952, the Monkey and Her Baby was not exhibited until 1955, when the first two casts were purchased by a distinguished collector and connoisseur, R. Sturgis Ingersoll, and The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. President of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, public servant, and brilliant lawyer, Mr. Ingersoll has summarized his enthusiasm for the work in the following passage written for this issue of the Bulletin:“A seventy-two year old man picks up a toy automobile and sees it in the head of a baboon. With the addition of other material he transforms his idea into a life-sized figure. Yes, it is a cliché to say that Picasso is constantly renewing himself.”“As composed form, Monkey and Her Baby is a beautiful work of art. Its originality is apparent at a glance. It is a descendant of no animalier known to me, though, in modern terms, there is a suggestion of the grotesque in Gothic stone carving, or the ape carvings of Egypt's Middle Kingdom. From one aspect it offers sheer wit; from another, mammalian humanness.”“In our garden it is placed close to the artist's Shepherd Holding a Lamb. There is marked kinship between the two—dignity, love, and the spiritual relationship between guardian and ward, regardless of genus.”“I would wish that the work had been christened ‘Baboon’ rather than ‘Guenon (monkey).’ The beast is assuredly a terrestrial baboon, not an arboreal monkey. Those magnificently distorted earth-grabbing feet, the power of the belly, the controlled fierceness of the face speak of the savagery of the ground-living baboon, not the playfulness of its smaller, more cheerful cousins. And yet, with all the savagery, there is tenderness of mother to child.”Referenced Work of Art
  1. Monkey and Her Baby. Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881- ), 1952. Bronze. Gift of the John Cowles Foundation.
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Source: Richard S. Davis, "Sculpture by Painters: Picasso," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 55, no. 3 (May-June, 1956): 34-35.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009