(K. Brent Tomer),
FRANÇOISE GILOT, Picasso’s long-term partner, compared the artist to Bluebeard, the fictional nobleman who murdered a string of wives. Both Picasso’s mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter and his second wife Jacqueline Roque committed suicide. But one woman who was subject to Picasso’s gaze refused to fall victim to it.
Sylvette David began her artistic career not as a painter, but as a model. Picasso and she met in the spring of 1954 in Vaullauris. Whilst Sylvette sat in the sun outside his studio, Picasso scaled the wall to hand her a sketch of a girl with a ponytail, which she recognised to be a portrait of herself. From that point, Ms David became his muse for over fifty paintings, later known as the Sylvette Cycle. The “Heads of Sylvette”—a series of metal sculptures—constituted an important innovation in his career, and this new epoch in Picasso’s art was also his most concentrated body of work centred around one woman. LIFE magazine dubbed it his “Ponytail Period”.
At the time, it was a tumultuous period for Picasso’s personal life: Gilot, mother of his two children, had ended their relationship….Continue reading