Françoise Gilot noticed that the paintings in the vault were all signed where Picasso kept only unsigned canvases in the atelier.
“I had noticed that he kept only unsigned canvases in the atelier. I asked him about that. "As long as a picture isn't signed," he said, "it's harder to dispose of if it's stolen. And there are other reasons, too. A signature is often an ugly blob that distracts from the composition once it's there. That's why I generally sign a picture only when it's sold. Some of these are paintings that I sold years ago and have bought back. The rest—well, as long as a painting hangs around the atelier unsigned, I feel I can always do something about it if I'm not completely satisfied. But when I've said everything I had to say in it and it's ready to start a life of its own, then I sign it and send it over here."”
So, Picasso used his signature in a conventional and unconventional way:
- As most artists do, he signed his work when he was completely satisfied with it. The signature acts as a “closure”. An unsigned work can always be re-worked.
- In Picasso’s case, the signature was also an anti-theft mechanism. Only sold works leaving the studio were signed.
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Life With Picasso by Françoise Gilot
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Life with Picasso by Françoise Gilot