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A rare Picasso, expressing his love affair, finds its way to Christie’s auction

The artist’s surrealist masterpiece – La Fenêtre Ouverte – will be offered at auction for the first time

January 24, 2022: Presented at auction for the first time, ‘La Fenêtre Ouverte’ (1929, estimate: £14,000,000-24,000,000) is a seminal work from Pablo Picasso’s Surrealist period. The painting will highlight Christie’s 21st edition of The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale, a key element of the 20/21 Shanghai to London series of auctions, which will take place on March 1, 2022. 

La Fenetre Ouverte by Picasso 1929

Rendered with a bold colour palette, La Fenêtre Ouverte is a work of striking visual power. This complex 1929 painting is one of a series of Atelier works that Mr. Picasso had begun around 1926 – richly symbolic and radically constructed paintings that reveal the multi-faceted interests of the artist at this time. 

Towering in the foreground of this painting are two highly abstracted figures. On the right stands a plaster bust that appears to be a disguised image of the artist’s great lover and muse of this time, Marie-Thérèse Walter. The figurative object on the left, an amalgam of feet intersected with an arrow, is said to be an abstracted, symbolic representation of Picasso himself. Two spires of the church of Sainte-Clotilde are identifiable in the background. John Richardson has suggested that this work therefore depicts the secret Left Bank apartment that Picasso and Marie-Thérèse shared as a hideaway during their relationship.  In the foreground, a configuration of abstracted objects are depicted in an arrangement reminiscent of the artist’s earlier cubist still lives.

Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s: “Held in the same European collection for half a century, this powerful and explosively coloured painting from the highpoint of Picasso’s Surrealist period and two years into his clandestine love affair with Marie-Thérèse, represents a brilliant fusion of the different passions and inspirations that defined the artist’s life at the end of the 1920s. Relishing the secret nature of their romance, Picasso could not help but include his lover’s presence in the form of the plaster bust in this painting.”

‘La Fenêtre Ouverte’ will be on view in New York from February 4 to 8, 2022 and in Hong Kong from February 15 to 17, 2022 before being exhibited in London from February 23 to March 1, 2022.