Pablo Picasso moved to the south of France after the second world war, and pitched up in Cannes in 1955, living in splendour at La Californie, a sumptuous mansion in the hills above town. He remained in the area until his death in 1973. This period is the focus of a new show at Bastian - one of the few open in London at this time of year.
As productive as ever, Picasso painted, sculpted, drew and cast thousands of ceramics. It’s not the most celebrated era of the 20th century’s most-celebrated artistic career, but it’s a stretch for Bastian to describe works of this kind as “rarely seen”.
I loved the playful, fun vases and plates, painted in bright colours with smiling faces. There’s also a fine ceramic relief in profile of poor doomed Jacqueline, done up like a pagan goddess with vines in her hair. Opposite, a very late (1955) portrait of Dora Maar glowers at us, clad in blue, her chest and shoulders bulging through the fabric like a tamarind.
Some photos of the artist in situ, parading through Cannes and lauded by happy townsfolk, highlight the atmosphere in which these easy, sunny works were produced. His reputation had been made, his legend secured, and he continued to enjoy good health. Women like Jacqueline and Dora were still fighting over him.
These are the works of a happy man, enjoying life in the sun.
Atelier Picasso is at Bastian (London). 03 September - 31 October 2020