Narrator: Curator Ann Temkin:
Ann Temkin: The Bathers, these six figures here, are all made with wood elements. It could be scraps of lumber, it could be bits of twigs or sticks.
In the mid-1950s, Picasso was very much in his element as a rag-picker. He lived in Cannes down on the Riviera at this point, and there he made friends with quite a few people who maintained scrap yards and junk heaps, demolition companies, so that he could find the materials he so loved to work with.
In a couple of instances, you see where he took old picture frames. It could be broomsticks or old furniture. For all of that, he kind of used a magician's eye and a trickster's hand to turn these bits of wood into six people who were going to the beach, which was only a few minutes' walk from his house.
And he gave them, as you can see, very funny expressions, very playful gestures. And he burned the surface of the wood in order to make some of the designs that give them their swimsuit decorations or their facial features.
This is a Picasso who, at almost 75, was having a wonderful time as a sculptor, where he's just using a hammer and some nails, the very most amateur of tools, almost like he's making puppets or dolls rather than making things that are actually 6 feet or more tall.