Picasso has an almost legendary reputation as a womanizer. He also has a reputation as a misogynist. He has been quoted as commenting “for me there are only two kinds of women, goddesses and doormats.” He supposedly made that remark at age 61 to 21-year-old art student Francoises Gilot, with whom he would have a 10-year affair,.
London Telegraph art critic Marc Hudson describes Picasso’ portrayal of women as follows: “alongside images of exquisite tenderness are women pulled and gouged into tortured shapes, women cut in bits and reconfigured on the canvas.” Of the seven most important women in Picasso’s life, two committed suicide, two went crazy and another died of natural causes four years into their relationship.
Photos (except for the last drawing) are from the Musée National Picasso in Paris.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which Picasso preferred to call Le Bordel d’Avignon, depicts five nude prostitutes from Avignon Street in Barcelona.
At the time Picasso painted La Fermiere, he was married to but separated from Olga Koklova, a Russian ballerina he had married in 1918; having an affair with Marie-Theresa Walter who gave birth to his first daughter; and had just met Surrealist photographer Dora Maar, who would be his lover into the 40’s.
There are many Picasso works titled Tête de Femme (Woman’s Head). Several were painted in 1939 alone and were inspired by Maar.
The women with a pillow is Jacqueline Roque, his last wife, who he married in 1961 at age 79.
The drawing below is of Genevieve Laporte who had an affair with Picasso in the 1950’s. (There was a modest 50-year age difference between the two.) She originally met Picasso when she was an art student interviewing him for her school magazine. Laporte later wrote a book titled “Un amour secret de Picasso.” This drawing was used as the cover for some editions of the book.