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Glass of Absinthe

1914
Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, Spanish, 1881 - 1973

The Surrealists celebrated this work—a hybrid of a painted bronze sculpture and an everyday item—for sabotaging the line between art and reality.


In this assemblage Picasso illustrates the correct method for consuming absinthe—a potent but toxic green-colored liquor. Absinthe became popular in Parisian cafés in the decades before and after 1900. Its bitter taste led to the specific serving method shown here: slowly pouring water over a sugar cube resting on a slotted spoon. The sugared water combines with absinthe at the bottom of the glass.

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Object Details
With Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris; French government, sequestered Kahnweiler stock, 1914-21; 1st Kahnweiler sequestration sale, Hotel Drouot, Paris, June 13-14, 1921, lot 139 (5 bronze casts sold as one lot) [1]. With Galerie Simon, Paris; sold to A. E. Gallatin, New York, 1935 [2]; bequest to PMA, 1952.1. According to Daix and Rosselet, Picasso: The Cubist Years, 1907-1916, Boston, 1979, no. 757, p. 332. Owing to Kahnweiler's German citizenship, the French government declared him an ‘enemy alien’ and seized his stock as enemy property. After WWI he re-opened his gallery as Galerie Simon.2. Letter of Maurice Jardot, Galerie Louise Leiris, September 18, 1987 (stock no. 12131, photo numbers 390, 391), cited by Gail Stavitsky, The Development, Institutionalization, and Impact of the A. E. Gallatin Collection of Modern Art [Ph. D. dissertation, New York University], 1990, v. 9, p. 232.

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