You might not know Picasso as a sculptor, I certainly didn't until I saw this; http://wandering-the-dream-space.blogspot.com/2010/07/pablo-picasso-mediterranean-years-1945.html, in the summer. In the gallery shop I lusted after books filled with Picasso's strange sculpture, but couldn't afford them. Today I had some belated joy when I discovered this small book for 99p in Oxfam.
'Picasso has a special affection for his sculptures, so much so that he insists on having them around him. His attitude towards them is more possessive than towards his paintings.' Roland Penrose
I think this seems only natural when you see these sculptures in the flesh. They appear as the machines of nightmare and dark fantasy, curiously lit and casting fantastic shadows on the walls. They take Picasso's drawings and paintings further, they materialise them. Ideas and fears become concrete and tangible.
'It is above all, reality I look for. Like all Spaniards I am a realist.' Picasso
Do we believe in Picasso the realist? If we remember that Picasso also said 'Everything you can imagine is real' then suddenly we no longer have to deal with this tension. Imagination answers our questioning of reality and throws new forms in to the world. I think it is true that Picasso is hunting the 'real' down, and if this reality is surprising it is because only Picasso has found this 'reality' so far.
'The reality of sculpture [...] is that it can be felt, held in the hands, walked around, treated like a child or a god directly without the aid of visual illusions or conventions.' Roland Penrose
I like the idea that these sculptures could be 'walked around', that they are almost toys or trinkets with an inherent mobility. That they can truly belong to us and this possession can be constantly reaffirmed. I think Picasso's sculptures often appear as toys, or sets and elaborate pieces of staging for adult play. But are they also 'icons', figures of art worship incarnated in the sculptor's material?
Picasso's sculptures show a pleasure in the physicalities of the world. The joy of sculpting clay or arranging wood and metal in to strange new forms is visible in them. All I can say is, never underestimate Picasso, he is considered a genius of modern art for a reason.