Under the influence of Cézanne and African, Iberian, and Oceanic art, Picasso reimagined the linear perspective inherited from the Renaissance, proposing a new visual approach that transcended the academic, pictorial realism of the nineteenth century. From 1907, the Cubist style characterized the painter’s investigations, as he broke up the object, showing it from various angles simultaneously. It was a symbolic revolution in the representation of space.
At the end of the Second World War, the loss of his long-time friend, the poet Max Jacob, who was Jewish and had perished in France in the Drancy internment camp, led Picasso to reflect on the theme of death and confinement.
Using objects that were right at hand in his studio, the artist reinterpreted the vanitas and its classic components: the mirror, a symbol of the passage of time, reflects nothing, and the oil lamp placed on the table sheds no light. Despite the food restrictions in effect at the end of the war, the cherries in the dish introduce an element of joy and renewed life evocative of the liberation of Paris and the regaining of freedom.
© Estate of Picasso / SOCAN (2020)