Jean Cocteau, 1889-1963
Tête Labyrinthique. Labyrinthian Head.
Original lithograph in four colours. 1956. Signed and dated in pencil. Also signed in the stone. Numbered from the edition of 20 (XX) proofs, plus 80 impressions. Published by the Guilde de la Gravure, Paris 1956 (with their blindstamp lower left).
Excellent impression with fresh unfaded colours. On off-white wove BFK Rives paper. Excellent condition. Drawn almost to full sheet size, as issued. Sheet: 24 1/4 x 19ins. Image: 19 5/8 x 15 7/8ins (500x404mm)
Cocteau was an artist whose inspiration spread through an extraordinary multiplicity of talents - painting, poetry, drama both as a writer and as a producer or designer, photography and pottery. It is, however, perhaps as a draughtsman that he is most widely known. His inimitable manner of handling line, the spare style of his drawing with the forms reduced to the most evocative, and often witty, symbols, has given him a unique place in the art of the first part of this century in France. Cocteau?s enjoyment of drawing first brought him to working in print media, and especially lithography, quite early in his life However it was really in the period from the 1950?s onwards, when so many of his friends had adopted lithography with such enthusiasm, that the main body of his oeuvre dates. Tête Labyrinthique dates from the later part of the 1950?s and was drawn for the print publishers Guilde de la Gravure. The manner in which the head is created using a ?maze-like? pattern of lines shows how Cocteau reworked ideas on which he had first touched during his association with Surrealism before the War. Our eye is inevitably lead by the pattern of lines and colours so that the form of the head, although seen, is also sensed subconsciously through the movement of the eye along the patterns. It is a technique similar to Cocteau?s other use of the ?dot and line? style, and, like it, shows the continuing emphasis that he placed on the subliminal.
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