At Masterworks Fine Art, we are fascinated by the variety and extent of creativity that has been achieved with Picasso ceramics. It can be enlightening to study the process in which Picasso worked with the Madoura Studio, but it would be overly simple to say that he only worked in one consistent manner. The experimental nature of this master artist and the exciting and malleable material of clay make the editions of Picasso an intriguing and even mysterious process.
Most often, the artist would use Suzanne Ramié’s pieces as his canvases. Sometimes the original form was left relatively similar, but transformed by the artist’s expressive and whimsical decorations. In other instances Picasso used a heavier hand in the transformation by gouging with a knife into the soft wet clay of a freshly thrown plate or pitcher, perhaps even taking the initiative to pinch and stretch the form distorting Suzanne Ramie’s simple standard shapes into anthropomorphic creatures, and expressive faces drawn with flexible strips of fresh earthenware defined in low relief. In other instances the artist would use scraps of discarded kiln furniture or failed pieces to make his own innovative creations.
To comprehend his process and participation with the Madoura workshop, one can compare it to how the fine artist works with a master printmaker. A Picasso lithograph would be conceived through a symbiotic relationship not unlike the relationship Picasso had with the Madoura Pottery Studio. Experimenting and craftsmanship had to work in a balance in order to achieve the desired visual outcome. While it is true that he worked with the master ceramicist, he never learned how to use the potter’s wheel. Just as Picasso’s manner of working developed around the nature of the ceramic, the Madoura studio responded to the artist in order to adapt the best procedures for curating the Edition Picasso ceramics. These methods are described below:
1. The Original Stamp: Part of or the entire work is produced through the utilization of a wood or linoleum block engraved by Picasso himself that is typically used for printmaking on paper. (p. 23, Ramié, Alain) A visual marker of this method can be the distinct indentation and border surrounding the particular “original stamp”.
2. The Original Print: A mold is created from Picasso’s original piece (the matrix). A clay impression is taken from this mold. (p. 23 Ramié, Alain) This process is easy to visualize especially in works that have been printed with the engobe pad as shown in the work below. The black areas showing a clear illustration of the raised surface. The wet clay responds to the negative matrix of the mold to recreate Picasso’s rendering with superb precision and accuracy.
Pablo Picasso, Woman’s Face, 1968 -1969
3. Authentic Replica: Using careful notes the work was recreated by hand. These works are marked by a particularly painterly quality. (pg. 23 Ramié, Alain)
As with printmaking, the works must be approved to be included as a part of the edition, and the methods of editioning are often combined to achieve different desired effects. At Masterworks Fine Art of East Bay of the Greater SF Bay Area, we love providing our clients with useful information. Included with every purchase are details from the documentation which provide specific catalogued information and history. With an extensive library at our facility, we take pride our research and strive to educate ourselves in order to assist our clients’ needs.
- Ramié, Alain. Picasso, Catalogue of the Edited Ceramic Works 1947-1971, Vallauris, 1988.
- Ramié, Georges. Picasso’s Ceramics. Trans. Kenneth Lyons. New York: The Viking Press, 1976.
- Ramié, Georges. Ceramics of Picasso. Barcelona: Ediciones Poligrafa, 1985.
- Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. Picasso & Ceramics. Québec: Édition Hazan, 2004.