Skull and Pitcher (1945) by Pablo Picasso

Skull and Pitcher - PICASSO, Pablo - 1945

Artwork Information

TitleSkull and Pitcher
ArtistPablo Picasso
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions28 5/8 x 36 1/8 in.
Current LocationThe Menil Collection, Houston, Texas
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About Skull and Pitcher

Skull And Pitcher is a significant painting by Pablo Picasso that belongs to a series of still life works created during World War II. The artwork represents war, death, and suffering, which were themes prevalent during that period. Painted in 1939 after the fascist regime conquered Picasso’s home city of Barcelona, he expressed his despair through the bull’s skull contaminated with rotting flesh.

Picasso was superstitious about death and kept a human skull in his personal studio. The artwork features a pitcher awkwardly placed behind the skull representing as much an erotic figure as an everyday object. It was made in 1945 when widespread terror caused by the Second World War had already led to incredible human suffering.

Skull And Pitcher is also seen as part of what others call “cubist eroticism,” where objects are transformed into erotic female bodies for compositional purposes only. Picasso portrays irony with these two objects coming together- one symbolizing death and another that represents life-giving nourishment- creating a juxtaposition between life and death.

This work signifies an essential phase in art history during surrealism after years of cubist experimentation for which he was famous for before he became politically charged as an anti-fascist artist who spoke out against dictatorships worldwide making it more than just shapes painted on canvas or prints on paper; it can be seen as express defeat over despairing times.


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