STUFF ON A TABLE
Let’s just start out with the premise that Picasso was the greatest still life painter of all time, just as of so many other genres. OK, I won’t argue if you go with van Gogh instead—his are breathtaking, too, and you’re entitled to your own opinion. Or we might agree that van Gogh was the greatest of his era, and Picasso of his. But I know there’s some sort of consensus in the making, so no need to belabor the specifics.
Nor is it easy to compare a Picasso still life from one of his periods to that of another—the styles are so radically different and so many pieces of each period are truly masterpieces that it’s hard to choose the best among so many superlatives. The teens and the twenties each had their masterpieces, but so did the thirties. You’d probably have to say those were the three greatest decades, as far as the still-life is concerned. (Some might say those were Picasso’s three best decades in general, but then we’d at least have to add the aughts to the list.) The wartime images also have their great still lifes. And the post-War Mediterranean years are amazing. OK, and Late Picasso brought us some wonderful works. Yes, the stuff-on-a-table series was a central vein that ran throughout Picasso’s long career, with the relative exception of his first years. So many still lifes—so hard to choose.
But any way you cut it, you’d have to agree that the chances of one of Picasso’s very best still lifes to come on the block, and at a reasonable estimate at that, are pretty slim, right? So I’m happy to report that one of the very best is on the block next week. It is certainly stronger than the two Picasso comps included in the sale catalogue, not to mention the van Gogh included therein as well. Though, parenthetically, you could consider the background to be Picasso’s nod to Starry Night—on acid.
Yeah, this painting is certainly one of my all-time faves, so it’s hard for me to understand why the estimate is so low. Unless of course that decision was predicated on general market jitters. If I have the inclination and if I find the time, maybe I’ll offer a few reasons why. But there’s probably no need—this painting speaks for itself. Right now, in the interest of time, I’m content just to point you in the direction of this imminent sale (Christie’s London, February 3), that is, if you hasn’t jumped out at you already.