Nature Morte au Gramophone, 1908-1909

In late 1908 and early 1909 Picasso was dedicated to the articulation of a new visual language. The influence of Paul Cézanne on Picasso during this period is widely known as he was exploring a new style of formal composition rooted in the deconstruction of forms into simple geometric shapes. Nature Morte au Gramophone is an early and significant cubist still life drawing, one of a series of works Picasso completed in the fall of 1908 and winter of 1909.

The small series of still lifes from this period are composed of dramatically rendered objects and fruit, reduced and simplified following Cézanne’s principle (published in 1906) to "treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere, the cone, everything brought into proper perspective so that each side of an object or a plane is directed towards a central point."

In Nature Morte au Gramophone, Picasso arranges a footed compote with a jagged edge, a large contoured gourd, pieces of fruit and a highly unusual gramophone that dominates the center of the image. The objects are disconnected from their functional (real) purpose creating a heightened tension in this seemingly simplistic image. Further emphasizing the tension, the compact composition is precariously staged before a dramatic drapery with heavy folds atop a table that is lifted towards the picture plane. The objects are presented as viewed from various perspectives, yet they all appear to exist without any reference to depth. Several noteworthy paintings from this period share a similar composition and arrangement of objects including Bowls of Fruit with Wineglass, 1908 (The Hermitage, Leningrad), Vase, Gourd and Fruit on a Table, 1909 (Yale Art Gallery) and Bottles and Fish, 1909 (Private Collection, Paris).

The footed vessel is a recurring object that is portrayed at times with a simple curved contoured edge at other times with an undulating, curvilinear rim as in Fruit Dish, winter 1908-1909 (Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York). In Nature Morte au Gramophone the vessel features a uniquely jagged edge which is seemingly animated by its proximity to the gramophone. The incorporation of this piece of technology however sets this work apart. Musicians and musical instruments appear variously throughout Picasso’s oeuvre but the gramophone does not appear in other works from this period.

The composition of Nature Morte au Gramophone is rendered in clusters of fine parallel marks in ink bounded by a border. Outside the composition, Picasso has applied dabs of watercolor in the margin; burnt sienna, greens and blues, colors also used in Picasso’s still life paintings from 1908 and 1909.

Drawn from multiple points of view, Nature Morte au Gramophone illustrates Picasso’s use of fragmentation to render objects in his work, a precursor to the finer faceting that would become the basis of analytical cubism in the years ahead.

Pablo Picasso 1881–1973

Pablo Picasso was born in Spain in 1881. From an early age, Picasso displayed a genius for drawing. His father trained him in both drawing and sculpture, and Picasso’s first exhibition occurred when he was just 13. In 1895, Picasso enrolled in the La Llotja Art School in Barcelona where he found success as an academic painter; his painting Science and Charity was awarded an honorable mention in 1897.

Picasso traveled to Paris in 1900 and the following year he began creating somber paintings in shades of blue, a time referred to as his Blue Period. In 1904 he officially moved to Paris and his color palette moved to warmer colors and subjects, and this time is now known as his Rose Period. In 1908, together with fellow artist Georges Braque, Picasso began to experiment with creating geometrically fragmented works in a style known as “Cubism.” Picasso continued in this genre until 1919, often incorporating paper collages into his cubist works. In 1939, Picasso had his first major retrospective, Picasso: Forty Years of his Art, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. When the Nazis occupied Paris in 1940, Picasso switched to writing and poetry. After the war he began to create three dimensional works, notably designing and donating the Chicago Picasso to the City of Chicago in 1967. He died in 1973.

Upcoming Lots Pablo Picasso

Auction Results Pablo Picasso

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Pablo Picasso

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PABLO PICASSO, Nature Morte au Gramophone | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Nature Morte au Gramophone
estimate: $200,000–300,000
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estimate: $100,000–150,000
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Grande Tête de Femme au Chapeau
estimate: $80,000–120,000
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PABLO PICASSO, Tête en forme d'horloge | Wright20.com

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Tête en forme d'horloge
estimate: $60,000–80,000
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PABLO PICASSO, Tête de Femme I | Wright20.com

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estimate: $30,000–40,000
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estimate: $30,000–50,000
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Pablo Picasso

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estimate: $30,000–50,000
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PABLO PICASSO, Tête de Femme IV | Wright20.com

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PABLO PICASSO, Jacqueline at the Easel plate | Wright20.com

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Jacqueline at the Easel plate
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Footballeur
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PABLO PICASSO, Face in a Square dish | Wright20.com

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Face in a Square dish
estimate: $7,000–9,000
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PABLO PICASSO, Woman's Head with Crown of Flowers | Wright20.com

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Woman's Head with Crown of Flowers
estimate: $20,000–30,000
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PABLO PICASSO, Jacqueline at the Easel with Faun with Square Faces plate | Wright20.com

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Jacqueline at the Easel with Faun with Square Faces plate
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PABLO PICASSO, Mat Owl Platter | Wright20.com

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PABLO PICASSO AND EGIDIO CONSTANTINI, Colomba | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso and Egidio Constantini

Colomba
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PABLO PICASSO, Three Fishes on Grey Ground | Wright20.com

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Three Fishes on Grey Ground
estimate: $10,000–15,000
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PABLO PICASSO, Femme du Barbu pitcher | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Femme du Barbu pitcher
estimate: $10,000–15,000
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PABLO PICASSO, Owl with Spread Wings | Wright20.com

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Les Deux femmes nues
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PABLO PICASSO, Woman's Face pendant | Wright20.com

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Woman's Face pendant
estimate: $7,000–9,000
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PABLO PICASSO, Grey Engraved pitcher | Wright20.com

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Grey Engraved pitcher
estimate: $12,000–18,000
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