Ealy Mays
“Cleaning Up Picasso’s Studio”
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Lot Details

Acrylic on canvas
59 x 63 in. (150 x 160 cm.)
Year: 2015
Extra Info:

Signed on the recto

Location: New York

Seller: Ealy Mays and ABXY, New York

In this painting, Mays employs the figure of the bull to represent Picasso and the figure of the woman to represent black culture. Picasso derived many of his Cubist principles through the study of traditional West African masks discovered in Southern Spain. His work “Les Desmoiselles D’Avignon” (MoMA permanent collection), alludes to this history. In that painting, Picasso pictures a group of prostitutes in the window of a brothel in Barcelona’s Red Light District. Inspired by African masking traditions, their geometric faces mark a major turning point in Picasso’s development as an artist and yet, the only artistic ancestor he thanks directly in that painting is Cezanne. (The small still life in the foreground of Desmoiselles references the work of Paul Cezanne, who Picasso referred to as “the father of us all [modern artists].”) With “Cleaning Up Picasso’s Studio,” Mays challenges that history through the Black woman’s figure, as she says, “en garde,” to the bull, symbolizing Picasso. The smaller figures that appear throughout the work also refer to the West African cultures from which Picasso’s Cubist ideas originally derived.

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Ealy Mays portrait

Ealy Mays

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