Head of a Ruler vs. Picasso's Woman's Head

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October 15, 2009
Sasha Kuznetsov

Head of a Ruler and a Woman’s Head
Head of a Ruler: Woman’s Head: Ca. 2300-2000 B.C. 1909 Iran or Mesopotamia, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Arsenical Copper. Bronze. (MMA, 47.100.80). (MMA, 1996.403.6).

The piece on the left, known as the “Head of a Ruler”, depicts a beautiful portrait of a mighty king, most likely one of the most powerful monarchs of his time, if we consider that this sculpture has come from ancient Iran or Mesopotamia, as it is believed to be. For at the time that the “Head of a Ruler” is dated, 2300-2000 B.C., both of these nations were at the pinnacle of their reign, with all of their astounding innovations and conquered lands. An arsenical copper cast, this sculpture is very ancient, yet it has remained in fairly good condition, with only part of the intricate beard missing, and some scratches on the face. The piece on the left, a “Woman’s Head”, made by the father of cubism, Pablo Picasso, is a true embodiment of cubism. The face of the woman is broken up into a multitude of shapes and forms which render it a very unrealistic and abstract look, characteristic of the cubist movement, although still clearly articulating its’ human features. This bronze-cast sculpture gives an impression of one of Picasso’s paintings suddenly coming out of its’ two-dimensional frame taking on a three-dimensional state. The two pieces, although pertaining to drastically different time periods and places, share a lot in common. Most importantly, both pieces are sculptures, both depicting human portraits, although of different race and...
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