Woman in Gray (Femme en gris)
On View: European Art Galleries, 5th floor
This grayscale painting of a woman with a hat likely depicts the French artist Dora Maar. While we don’t know if Pablo Picasso continued to look at masks like the nearby Fang example after his so-called African period (from 1907 to 1909, when he visually quoted select African sculptures and masks in paintings like Les Demoiselles d’Avignon), we do know that he kept other types of Central and Western African works in his studio throughout his life. Living with African arts for many years, he likely internalized their modes of stylization. The significance of this is apparent in this painting’s bold geometry. Picasso didn’t understand the historical context of the African art that he owned or viewed, and likely didn’t realize that the Fang mask whose form and perceived spiritual capability he admired represented a woman. By placing these works alongside one another, we make space for new conversations about how two turn-of-the-twentieth century male artists blended archetypes and portraits of women to depict two very different concerns—colonialism (the Fang artist), and a fading, abusive relationship with Dora Maar, the subject of this portrait painting (Picasso).
Oil on panel
39 1/4 x 31 7/8 in. (99.7 x 81 cm)
Frame: 51 1/4 x 43 1/4 x 3 1/4 in. (130.2 x 109.9 x 8.3 cm) (show scale)
Signed upper left: "Picasso"
Gift of the Alex Hillman Family Foundation in memory and in honor of Rita K. Hillman
© artist or artist's estate
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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Woman in Gray (Femme en gris), 1942. Oil on panel, 39 1/4 x 31 7/8 in. (99.7 x 81 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Alex Hillman Family Foundation in memory and in honor of Rita K. Hillman, 2008.43. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2008.43_PS2.jpg)
overall, 2008.43_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2005
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