The large sculpture by Picasso, which the city of Rotterdam acquired
following a seven-year process, depicts the nineteen-year-old girl
Sylvette David. In a short period of time in 1954 Picasso made a large
series of portraits of this young woman with her youthful classic
profile and her hair in a ponytail including several sculptures. In this
series Picasso attempted to capture his model’s unique characteristics
in a broad range of styles that he had used throughout his career
including the multiple viewpoints typical of his Cubist works. In this
way he dissected his subject into small components and recomposed them
from various viewpoints, combining profile with frontal view, eschewing
all rules of perspective.
The concrete sculpture Sylvette is an enlargement of one of the
small sculptures Picasso made in painted sheet metal. The technique
used to create the large sculpture was developed with Picasso’s friend,
the sculptor Carl Nesjar. The sculpture was cast in concrete with black
pebbles. Nesjar copied the lines that Picasso had painted on the
original metal sculpture by sandblasting the concrete to reveal the
black pebbles. This technique, known as ‘concrete sgraffito’, produced
lines that evoked the hand-painted character of the original model.
This technique led to the criticism (unjustly directed at Nesjar) that the sculpture too greatly resembles a folded line drawing rather than an autonomous sculpture that defines the space around it.
|dimensions sculpture (hxwxl) in cm||750 x 500 x 200 (10 cm thick concrete slab)|
|material||Concrete with black stone|