Pablo Picasso’s ‘Le Tricorne’—His ‘Mad Man’ Moment?

THE DAILY PIC: In its new home at the New-York Historical Society, Picasso's 'Tricorne' shows its roots in advertising.

THE DAILY PIC (#1671): I never did manage to get to the great Four Seasons restaurant in New York before it closed, but at least last week I finally got to see a notable part of its décor. Picasso’s great 1919 curtain for the ballet “Le Tricorne,” long on view at the Four Seasons, has now found a home at the New-York Historical Society. That history museum may seem a strange place for a notable work of modern art, but one thing about the curtain makes it a decent fit: On seeing it, I was struck by how much it looks like the kind of period liquor ad you might find preserved in such a venue—an ad, maybe, for the amontillado sherry that Picasso includes, product-shot-wise, in the very foreground of his scene.

Advertising posters had been getting bigger and bigger and better and better in the decades before Picasso came up with his image, so it may be that advertising was the obvious model that came to mind when it came time for him to paint a big, very public painting. I also wonder if, in Picasso’s new home in France, his native Spain may not have been better known for its alcoholic exports than for anything else, and if Picasso might have wanted to craft a wry little joke about that. (Gift of New York Landmarks Conservancy, Courtesy of Vivendi © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York) 

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