Skip to Content

Previous: Saving Art in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Next: More than a Replica: The “Guernica” Tapestry Comes to Houston

08 Jan
Tue / 2013

Picasso’s “Woman with Outstretched Arms”

My favorite work in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is Pablo Picasso’s Woman with Outstretched Arms. You won’t find it in our galleries at the moment, for it is visiting New York, where it welcomes all visitors to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s special exhibition Picasso Black and White. This playfully monumental sculpture returns to its Houston home for the second and final stop of Picasso Black and White, opening at the MFAH February 24. This landmark exhibition surveys the major role monochromatic painting, drawing, prints, and sculpture played in Picasso’s career over the course of a lifetime; ranging from 1904 to 1970, this exhibition gives unique insight into Picasso’s creative genius. 

Woman with Outstretched Arms has a special place in Picasso’s career.  As a child, he cut figures and animals from paper for to entertain his younger sisters, and cut paper played a major role in his development of Cubist collage. Decades later, he returned to making cutouts once again, and in the early 1950s he began to translate his paper maquettes into small cut-and-folded sheet metal figures. In 1961, he returned once again to this means of working, and launched a collaboration with Lionel Prejger, the owner of a scrap-metal and demolition shop near Picasso’s home in Southern France. Over a two-year period, they created some 120 sculptures. While most of these are female nudes or portrait busts, Picasso also crafted owls, crows, bulls, and even monkeys, adding another layer of expression as he painted the final versions.

“Picasso seldom makes a drawing,” Prejger recounted, “but simply takes the paper in one hand and the scissors in the other, and begins to cut. Then the most important task, the folding begins: the folding is what produces the play of light in the finished sculpture.” Different versions of Woman with Outstretched Arms were translated from paper to metal, and even into sandblasted concrete. Yet no matter the medium, all share triangular torsos and a welcoming stance. Prejger said that after he accepted the artist’s proposal that they work together, Picasso confessed to him: “I’m achieving a dream I’ve had for a long time, to take these little pieces of paper scattered all around and turn them into a medium that will last.”

Filed under: ,

Follow-Up Posts

About Sarah Schultz

Sarah Schultz is a native Houstonian and the curatorial assistant in Contemporary Art and Special Projects at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She seeks out art in unlikely places.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe in a reader

Receive blog updates in your inbox!

Enter your e-mail address:

Powered by FeedPress

Abstract Actress, Adolpho american Ancient and Angel Angry Animals Apfel architecture archive, Archives, Art, Arte auction, Azaelas Bartender Bayou Bend Bible Biblical Blooms Brazilian Break british, campus Cannes Chef christie's, Christmas cinema cinematography Color Concreta, Concrete construction, Consulate "Contemporary Cookbook countess Culinary curator daguerreotype daphne, digital Dinner DJ drawings Dynasty Edie Egypt electronic Emperor Empress england, e-records, Eureopean European Expressionism, fashion, Festival Field film Films" Flato Flowers Franzheim French Frozen Fruit Fun future #FutureMFAH, gainsborough, Garden Gardens glassell, GreyGardens Guernica, "Gwendolyn Habsburg "Hedwig History Holl Hoppner, Horticulture Hou HouHsiao-hsien Houston Houstonians howe Hsiao-hsien ICAA, immersive Impressionism Inch" installation, interactive iPads Ireland, Iris Istanbul Jules kenwood, King Kodak, Lake Lake|Flato latin Leirner, Love" Magnolias Mail Maysles mcqueen, media MFAH Mies mixed Modern Modernism, Moneo Monet Monsters" Movie movies Museum music Mythological Netherlands New NewWave NHPRC, Noguchi Nutrition Olitski, Organic Painting Paris, party photographs photography Picasso, Pollock, portrait Pre-Columbian Prince Princess prints programs Punch Recipe records, redevelopment, Resnais Rienzi Rohmer Rothko, Rum Sculpture "Shadow Shepherds Snail snapshot soto, sotosummer, spring SpringBreak Ssummer starfish Summer Taiwan Tapestry, Tarkovsky technology the Truffaut Turkey Turkish Tut, Vegetable VegOut Vienna watercolor Watkin Wave William Winter Wtewael Zepeda"