“Youth has no age.”
Picasso was a chainsmoker. He smoked two to three packs of Gauloises every day, and he loved to wear blue and white striped sailor’s shirts. They were his trademark. Therefore, it is probably legitimate to conclude that the Fumeur is an image of the master himself — or at least of the man he felt to be: virile, young, ‘in charge’, an epitome of cool. Because in 1964, when he produced this print, Picasso was already 83 years old. Three years earlier, he had married his last muse Jacqueline Roque, who was 34 at that time. The couple resided in a villa on the French Riviera, and she remained at Picasso’s side until his death in 1972, when he was 92.
Fumeur is part of a series of thirteen sugar-lift aquatints, all showing a man in a marine shirt with a cigarette in his mouth, looking resolutely into the viewer’s eyes. Each print depicts him in a slightly different mood, some friendlier than others. The images are minimally executed in generous brushstrokes and printed in vibrant colours.