Picasso and birds/ Wilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartés book, annotated notes by Carol Sutton

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  1. ?4. #4 is correct- 4. Dove Picasso.

PICASSO, Sabartes, and BIRDS

Picasso as written about by Jaime Sabartés and Wilhelm Boeck

picass3h.gif, picasso, birds


Picasso and his birds!
JUST BIRD TALK - In my studies on Picasso I somewhere came across a quote by Picasso that said something like, " a pigeon would be a better peace symbol than a dove, because a pigeon is more. . .
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section on Francoise Gilot/Picasso & his birdsisn_e.gif, mini red arrow pointing right

The listing of Picasso books and web related sitesisn_e.gif

You are at this section now. -Boeck/Sabartés
 CONTINUES . . . . .

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How did Picasso use the birds in his art?
A vivid understanding of Picasso working habits, here edited to deal with his birds, by his life long devoted secretary of his affairs, Sabartés. Jamie Sabartés superb book more than any other book I have seen or read on Picasso, deals the most with how birds played a major theme within Picasso art and life.
Find out who Sabartés was in my illustrated essay{repaired link} on him that includes hyperlinks to web sites and a listing of books. sabarteslogo.jpg, Who was Sabartes?, design by Carol SuttonęThen return to this page.
Below are my annotated notes and thoughts added to his text, along with some comment on the visual plates within the book, which is outlined Chapter by Chapter.
Wilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartés text is in the color purple. Black and red notes by Carol Sutton.
Pablo Picasso
Wilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartés
Published by: Harry N. Abrams Company, with a total of 606 illustrations, and a cover design made especially for this book by Picasso July 1955, printed and bound in Japan, in association with W. Kohlhammer, with plates printed in Germany.
New York, 1955
Chapter : Introduction I: Nature and Abstraction, from page 72:
"A particularly striking example of such a transformation of a natural object into a sign is Picasso's pencil drawing of the little owl (page 91), that Michel Sima gave him at Antibes in 1946, and that he kept for a long time as a pet* and subject of his studies.This small creature, which he reproduced in various media, is for him not so much a visual object as a personal experience, something that happens to him; he comes to grips with it, takes possession of it, and at the same time seeks to express it by a simple and meaningful sign. The result of this process is this striking drawing which embodies the owl as such in only a few lines.
Its abstract elements range from memories of things seen to geometric curves. An almost regular oval serves as the outline of the owl's body, while the tree-quarter view introduces a perspective fore-shortening. Related asymmetric curves inside the figure denote the wings, the arched brows, and the beak. The unequal size of the eyes (the left one is larger) and the horizontal ledge that attaches the bird to the plane and gives it static support, enhance the perspective effect. The derivation of the almost symbolically simplified drawing from a prior illusionistic vision is thus unmistakable. All the elements contained in those few lines, such as the broad head, the form of the beak, the round eyes , the position of the wings, the inclined stance are also present in the photographs of the owl; Picasso often had himself photographed with it. He seems to have experimented with an owl previously, when he engraved its forms on a flint stone that had the characteristic oval shape "from nature".
He did not regard the drawing of November 8, 1946, as a definitive solution, and early in 1947 resumed his work, evidence of which we find in one very reveling sheet of drawings (page 90)
Notes on page margin 72, about related owl reproductions:
The two rapid sketches at the top of the sheet reproduce the older-drawing with altered proportions; the perch that the bird grips with its claws is indicated by a horizontal line. This motif recurs in the other studies, which bring out entirely new formal elements overlooked in the older drawing. Certain angular breaks of the outline and the inclusion of the form of the tail lead to a completely changed, firmly articulated conception of the contour. The natural appearance of the owl has been broken up into its constituent parts: the hook-like beak has been moved to the profile view at the right and separated from the eyes, which are brought together in an area of their own. In the most finished study the owl is placed on a branch-like scaffolding which seems originally not to have been intended for that purpose: here the fascinating effect of the (continued on page 85) frontally staring eyes is considerably enhanced by the stressing of their duality. (Closely related to the owl studies are the scattered drawings of human eyes, in which the relation of the round eyeball to the frame consisting of sharply intersecting arcs is similarly explored.) Faint lines indicating feathers within the planes -- in contrast to the strongly rationalized figure as a whole-- point to an effort to recapture the optical appearance. of particular importance is the study at he lower right: it discloses an attempt, still in the groping stage, to combine the closed oval form of the older drawing with the more recent angular forms."
"More recently Picasso again treated the owl in ceramics and sculptures--needless to say, he also painted it--and in the process made it yield still other potentialities. Chinese potters of the Han period and later sixteenth-century European potters used the motif of the owl for decorative purposes. Picasso, starting from his drawings, arrived independently at the idea of matching the forms of the owl's body with specific vase forms. Thus, the head, shoulder, belly, and foot of the vase shown on page 447 are also the head, shoulder, belly, and foot of an owl. The bird's claws, wings, and feathers are indicated by stylized dashes, and the beak, eyes, and eyebrows are added as accents partly for the sake of vividness and partly for the sake of ornamentation. Here, the twin function of the object as picture and utensil has replaced the more general twin function of image and symbol."
Notes on page margin 85, about related owl reproductions:
Other related bird and owl reproductions in this Pablo Picasso / Wilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartés, book:
Chapter: Origins of Cubism
Chapter: Picasso and Surrealism
Collection of Madame Cottoli, Paris, France picass1m.gif, 'Farmer's Wife on A Stepladder' (1933), pastel on paper,105x 125 pixels, by Picasso pagelinks.gifClick to view giant version.. A painting with bird in a next in rear ground and also shows the farmer's wife holding a bird in her hands as she descends the ladder. C.S.
Chapter: Guernica
For Picasso, War = no birds / Peace = birds
  • There is a foldout color reproduction, page 234, 'Guernica', (1937),
  • This major war work by Picasso is noteworthy in that it has no birds, not even one, whereas it's complementary work, 'Peace (19 ) has birds.
page 261, Boeck and Sabartés text writes about Guernica in relation to bird perches, but does not mention the lack of a bird or birds. Picasso associated the image of the bird with the feeling of peace and even used it as a pigeon_pisc.gif, a pigeon by Picassosymbol of peace. Picasso drew some violent looking birds, but his most violent birds, some of his cocks for example are still in the realm of natures own game and not displayed harboring the same type of violence that man was capable of inflicting on other animals or other human beings. "Guernica. If we analyze the formal instructive preliminary stages. For instance, the anthropomorphic gestures of the tree branches derive formally from Cubist abstractions, as a glance at the tree forms in the owl pictures of January 1947 shows (page 90)
  • Margin note: page 90, 'Studies of Owls' (1946),
  • QUOTE-"Picasso had made similar Cubist studies of tree trunks as early as 1944, and these in turn are based on vivid drawing made two decades earlier. In his copy of Poussin (page 417), which also dates from 1944, and which will be discussed in the next chapter, the trees in the old master's painting are reinterpreted in the same way." END QUOTE
Chapter: Antibes
Pablo Picasso
Wilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartés
Published by: Harry N. Abrams Company, 1955
from page 262- "Sabartés, who was with him in those anxious days, has described the unusual method Picasso adopted for this painting. He began by covering three walls of his studio with canvas, and trimmed it down to size only after he had painted it. " end quote. This is exactly the method used by the living master painter, Lawrence Poons. While during the Barcelona Triangle Workshop of 1987, Lawrence Poons, hung the walls of an entire room with canvas, forming a circle that he painted inside, filling the whole with masses of bold contrasting color and working to build up a heavy texture and even added three dimensional objects to the surface texture of the painting; later after completion, this canvas was cropped and cut, and then stretched and framed.
C.Sutton 1998©
See this photo and more at:
poons-barcelona_sm.jpg, Lawrence Poons (USA) hung walls with canvas to paint on, in Barcelona Triangle Workshop 1987. credit
Triangle Arts Trust: Triangle Barcelona Workshop, Spain
... Lawrence Poons (USA) Albert Ràfols-Casamada (Barcelona, Spain) ... Click to
enlarge picture of Lawrence Poons, 1987 Lawrence Poons, 1987 ... -
Chapter: Vallauris: Ceramics
from page 283:
"With his owl vases (page 447), he took up an idea that Chinese potters had realized thousands of years ago; Once again we see the bird's head, shoulders, belly , and feet identified with the corresponding parts of the vessel. Çlaws, wings, feathers are indicated in various ways by stylized dots; and beak, eyes, and eyebrows are added in paint as partly ornamental, partly animating accents. It is typical of Picasso that his rediscovery of a valid combination of motifs thousands of years old originates in an incidental and quite subjective experience--that of the little owl at Antibes (see page 89). Theoretically this transformation of the abstract parts of the vessels into natural forms can be accounted for by the tendency to proceed from ideal form to a new autonomous objectivity, which Jaun Gris (1887-1927) formulated in terms of painting, as the path from the cylinder to the bottle. Starting from the ovoid form of the vessel, Picasso arrives at a bird, and once again the beak of the bird becomes the "beak" of the vessel, and the handles can be interpreted as a wing or tail (page 442). While the structure and contours of the vessel are spirited, harmonious, and functional, the decoration avoids naturalism. In other examples, the form of the vessel suggest less obvious interpretations, and the painting is more suggestive, as in the "transformation" of an ibex in repose (page 442) , whose limbs, marked in black on light brown, in conjunction with the turn of the head, produce an impression of utmost animation."

Chapter: Sculpture, begin quote from page 287:
"Related to this figure is the bronze Cock (page 435), which Picasso made at Boisgeloup in 1932. This sculpture occupied a place of honor in the center of the Picasso gallery at the Salon de la Libération of 1944. It could occupy such a place because in contrast to the relied-like works preceding it, its effect is quite spatial. But it shares with the earlier works the contrast between heavy and light forms and their metamorphosis, which is thematically motivated by the juxtaposition of rump and feathers. It is very instructive to compare this Cock with another Cock, eighty-three-inches high of wrought iron, which Picasso made two years earlier and intended as an open-air exhibit. The two works reflect fundamentally different conceptions of sculpture. Whereas the bronze Cock of 1932 is derived from the natural model and, despite parts that enclose and articulate the negative spaces, is essentially a positive volume, the wrought-iron Cock is a construction that only indirectly suggest the idea of the living animal; it has no volume at all, and is an openwork sculpture in every respect. In addition, the special technique applied here, which Picasso learned from González, produces some surprising effects----the tail feathers, for instance, are shaped like leaves, which results in an extraordinarily bold, imaginative creation."
Margin note related: page 287, 'Cock page 435
picass6e.gif,he Cock (193?-38) , Picasso,oil, private collection, New YorkThe Cock (193?-38) , Picasso,oil, private collection, New York, NY, USA,
pagelinks.gifClick to view giant version.. takes you to the giant 750x1049 full scale jpg image size 152,883 -- courtesy of : Note: This image is not used in the Sabartés Picasso book.

CONTINUES: Other related bird and owl reproductions in this Pablo PicassoWilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartés, book:
Chapter-Ornament and Image. War and Peace
Life with Picasso
Francoise Gilot and Carlton Lake Quote page 271, 272 in its entirety for the sake of content:
QUOTE-----"I asked Pablo how he would classify one of my favorite colorists-- Bonnard.
"Don't take to me about Bonnard, " he said. "That's not painting, what he does. He never goes beyond his own sensibility. He doesn't know how to choose. When Bonnard paints a sky, perhaps he first paints it in blue, more or less the way it looks. Then he looks a little longer and sees some mauve in it, so he adds a touch or two of mauve, just to hedge. Then he decides that maybe it's a little pink too,so there's no reason not to add some pink. The result is a potpourri of indecision. If he looks long enough, he winds up adding a little yellow, instead of making up his mind what color the sky really ought to be. Painting can't be done that way. Painting isn't a question of sensibility; it's a matter of seizing the power, taking over from nature, not expecting her to supply you with information and good advice. That's why I like Matisse. Matisse is always able to make an intellectual choice about colors. Whether it's close to nature or far away, he's always able to fill an area completely with one color, simply because it goes with the other colors on the canvas, decided the sky should be red, it would be a real cadmium red and nothing else and it would be all right because the degree of transposition in the other colours would be at the same level. He would transpose all the other elements of the canvas into a sufficiently high color range so that the mutual relationships of those tones made possible the intensity of the first red. In that way it's the whole color range of the composition which permits that eccentricity. Van Gogh was the first one to find the key to that tension. He wrote, 'I'm building up to a yellow.' You look at a wheat field, for example; you can't say it's a real cadmium yellow. But once the painter takes it into his head to arrive at an arbitrary determination of color, and uses one color that is not within nature's range but beyond it, he will then choose , for all the rest, colors and relationships which burst out of nature's straitjacket. That's the way he asserts his freedom form nature. And that's what makes what he does interesting. And that's what I hold against Bonnard. I don't want to be moved by him. He's not really a modern painter:* he obeys nature; he doesn't transcend it. That method of going beyond nature is actively accomplished in Matisse's work. Bonnard is just another neo-impressionist, a decadent; the end of an old idea, not the beginning of a new one. The fact that he might have had a little more sensibility than some other painter is just one more defect as far as I'm concerned. That extra dose of sensibility makes him like things one shouldn't like."END QUOTE
.*Picasso thought that Henri Rousseau was a modern painter. Rousseau thought of himself as a modern painter and once said to Picasso. "We are the two greatest painters of our time, you in the Egyptian style and I of the Modern style."
--If Picasso's understanding and respect for Henri Rousseau was a gauge of taste, avant garde thought, or an intuitive grasp of Rousseau's intrinsic value as an artist; then many more people and art historians alike would believe that Henri Rousseau was a great modern artist and not label him as a naive painter. To label Henri Rousseau as a naive painter is a great mistake. Picasso used progress made by Rousseau in his art to enhance and bring out aspects that he was striving for within his own art. Picasso gave a much written about dinner in Rousseau's honor and owned a number of his paintings. Picasso said of Rousseau, "Rousseau represent the perfection of a certain kind of thought." **
**from page 243 of Pichon book.
**A related book - The World of Henri Rousseau byYann le Pichon, translated by Joachim Neugroschel
(My favorite Rousseau book. C.S.), 170 full color and 107 black and white illustrations.
Publishing -Arch Cape Press, New York, 1982
Printed in Hong Kong
Library of Congress numbers; (ND553.R67L37513 1987) 759.4 87-14520
ISBN numbers - 0-517-44585-9
.. C.L. Sutton
END for the bird.picass4r.gif,Cat and Bird (1939), by Picasso, oilCat and Bird (1939), by Picasso, oil
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Picasso and his birds!
JUST BIRD TALK - In my studies on Picasso I somewhere came across a quote by Picasso that said something like, " a pigeon would be a better peace symbol than a dove, because a pigeon is more passive bird and doesn't attack like a dove sometimes can." After spending half a day and going through over 15 Picasso books I give this task of identifying this quote on to my readers; that is just when and where and to whom did Picasso say this pigeon/dove quote. If you are aware of this or know about this source please contact me by email at
Hints: Could be:

What follows is a little exploration of this issue.

4 page study of which this is the lead page.


 CONTINUES ...section on Francoise Gilot/Picasso & his birdsisn_e.gif, mini red arrow pointing right


------------------------------NAVAGATION BAR--------------

Picasso and his birds!

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section on Francoise Gilot/Picasso & his birdsisn_e.gif, mini red arrow pointing right

The listing of Picasso books and web related sitesisn_e.gif, mini red arrow pointing right

section on-flatbook.gifBoeck/Sabartés book on Picasso with annoteted notes on bird related text. isn_e.gif, mini red arrow pointing right

+ essayisn_e.gif, mini red arrow pointing right

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whitedov.gif, white dove gif

Please don't miss these extra pages!!

includes a chart TIMELINE --of characters from text with their human and bird relationships. 1881- to 1953

and an Illustrated Biography of Jaime Sabartés.


by Carol L. Sutton, June 21 to July 23, 1998


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