Artwork Detail

La bouteille de Suze (Bottle of Suze)
1912
Spanish, 1881–1973
Pasted papers, gouache, and charcoal
25 3/4 x 19 3/4 "
University purchase, Kende Sale Fund, 1946
WU 3773
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Highlights
Pablo Picasso's La Bouteille de Suze is a key image of the late Synthetic Cubism developed by Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Picasso, in which the artists synthesized separate elements from real life in their pictures to suggest objects and environments. In La Bouteille de Suze, Picasso used cut fragments of newsprint, wallpaper, and construction paper, as well as gouache and charcoal, to suggest a liquor bottle with a label and, on the left, a glass and an ashtray with cigarette and smoke. These abstract, fragmented elements all appear to rest on a blue table in front of a wall with diamond-patterned wallpaper and newsprint. Serving as a formal element, the newsprint also suggests the popular Parisian café activity of reading the paper while smoking and drinking. The texts add a political and social dimension to the image: they juxtapose newspaper articles referring to horrific events from the First Balkan war with stories of Parisian frivolity. Along with the texts, the distorted, fragmented forms in this Cubist image allude to such conditions of modernity as the lack of coherent perspectives or meanings in a constantly changing world. Picasso's work can thus be seen as simultaneously warning against the absurdity of modern life while also delighting in life's simple pleasures.