Femme en vert

  • 1909
  • Pablo Picasso
  • oil on canvas
  • 100,3 x 81,3 x 2,5 cm
    124,4 x 105,3 x 4,1 cm (incl. lijst / frame)
  • Location VAM, A1, 07, 00
  • Acquired in 1954
  • Inventory number 385

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In 'Femme en vert' Pablo Picasso, who originated from Spain, used mainly grey, brown and ochre shades to paint the head and upper body of a woman against a background of the same colours. The green to the left and right of the neck and under the raised arm of the woman is very prominent and the face is composed of angular shapes. The body and arms contain less sharply defined shapes and Picasso placed whimsical fields of colour next to each other here. The background is divided into different fields with a number of horizontal and vertical lines and within these fields other colours have been juxtaposed.

In 1909 Picasso and the French artist Georges Braque developed a new style known as Cubism. They used a given object in the real world, analysed it and divided it into facets, using these to construct a new composition. At the same time they made the shapes more abstract and combined different aspects within a painting so that there is nothing left of a central perspective. The canvas is seen as a flat surface on which colours and shapes are given a place as independent elements, and this Cubist vision was the first step in the development towards abstract art. The first stage of Cubism, which lasted up to 1912, was known as analytical Cubism. As the artists were still concentrating mainly on shape, the palette of colours they used was limited.

In 'Femme en vert' Picasso painted his lover at the time, Fernande Olivier, concentrating on the details of her head, and he represented the various parts of her face and hair in stereometric forms. Together with the distribution of light and dark, these produce a spatial effect. The left side of the figure is clearly distinct from the background; on the right, the shapes cannot all be read in a spatial way. The green under the arm can be seen as a sofa or as a cushion, but the green mark above the arm cannot be defined. The light triangular shape to the left does not have a clear significance either and the shapes in the background cannot be identified as particular objects. This work remains something between a traditional portrait and an abstract painting.

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