Among the many famous phrases of Pablo Picasso there is one that perfectly illustrates what this series of lithographs on the figure of a bull represents. Picasso said, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, and a lifetime to paint like a child." And it is that the Spanish painter had a great mastery of pictorial technique and had learned to copy the greatest works in the history of art, including those of the great Rafael. Something that he already did when he was young, however from then on, his evolution as a painter was towards greater abstraction and synthesis, to arrive at images that, like in children's drawings, manage to represent the essence of things.
That's what this series of 11 lithographs that he made in a row between 1945 and 1946 is about. The element to represent was a bull, an animal that he painted on many occasions and that, like Goya before, had inspired many illustrations and engravings. In addition, the bull is in some way an Iberian symbol with which the artist identified. And as if that were not enough, he could unite it with other art that fascinated Picasso, thecave artthat in places like the Altamira Cave had been dedicated to representing fauna.
In fact, in this series of images of a bull, the first one can undoubtedly remind us of those animals from prehistoric art, since it is a very naturalistic drawing, in which it has stopped in thedetails and in the volumes of the animal. That is the starting point and from there he will show us what his creative process was until reaching the essential lines that define the bull. And of course if we compare the first plate with the last one, we would probably say that he ends up painting as a small child would.
If the first is the most naturalistic, in the second he gives us the feeling of greater expressiveness, it may even seem to us that he has a sad look. On the other hand, in the third, some lines appear on his body that perfectly mark his muscles and bones. Those lines in the following one are already a real dissection of the animal, which has suffered a clear decomposition in different planes. Something that is more accentuated in plate 5, truly cubista.
In the sixth, any detail of a naturalistic nature has already disappeared. We only see geometric shapes in black and white anymore. In the seventh and eighth, he only shows us the structure of the animal. While the next step consists of the colored surfaces disappearing, something that happens in the ninth plate. Everything is unfilled lines, except for the bull's genitals, making mention of his symbol of virility
The penultimate image is even simpler, although here its representation of the head and antlers as separate from the whole takes on a special role. And we come to the last stage in this peculiar transformation. Just a silhouette with the angled profile of the bull. Just onesilhouette and yet casts its shadow, as in each and every one of the 11 sheets.