Five Nudes (Study for "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon")
Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, Spanish, 1881 - 1973
This watercolor is Picasso's final compositional sketch for his great early masterpiece Les Demoiselles d'Avignon ("The Young Ladies of Avignon"). Indeed, the composition is so far advanced that it can tell us what the finished oil painting looked like before the artist, influenced by the African masks he encountered in 1907 at the Trocadéro Ethnographic Museum in Paris, altered the heads of the two women on the right to even greater atavistic stylizations. The experience of seeing African sculpture confirmed Picasso's growing realization that the meaning of a work of art was not dependent upon conventional form or narrative, and further encouraged him to shatter the boundaries of representation.