Did you know Picasso was also an illustrator?

Composite of pages from Les Métamorphose d’Ovide (Skira) ©Succession Picasso by SIAE 2018

The great artist illustrated for over 150 books in his lifetime, one of which is being re-released in an exact replica of its 1930s first edition.

Italian arts book powerhouse Skira has been publishing fascinating editions from the world of fine art and photography for almost 90 years, and it all started with the hiring of none other than Pablo Picasso for its first publication.

Said book was encyclopaedia of classical mythology Les Métamorphoses by Ovid, which is being re-released in an anastatic edition, meaning you can hold the exact same book as it looked in 1931. Here are a few pages as a taster.

From Les Métamorphose d’Ovide (Skira) ©Succession Picasso by SIAE 2018

From Les Métamorphose d’Ovide (Skira) ©Succession Picasso by SIAE 2018

It was in that year that with the help of Jacqueline Apollinaire and on the advice of Pierre Matisse - two other greats - that the then twenty-five-year-old Albert Skira convinced Picasso to illustrate Ovid’s Metamorphoses with 30 etchings. The etchings are of a rare homogeneity, made of pure outlines, and also discreetly erotic. At the top of the chapters, illustrations are freed from the constraints of the text and represent faces and studies of the nude.

With a print run of 145 copies released on Picasso's 50th birthday, the edition brought together and revisited more than 250 Greek myths in 11,995 verses and 15 books.

Skira's new edition is bound as the first one with paper coating and hot stamping, and comes as part of a numbered run of a 1000 copies. The book is contained within a box set that also includes an illustrated brochure on the inception and history of the book.

From Les Métamorphose d’Ovide (Skira) ©Succession Picasso by SIAE 2018

While of course Picasso was famous for his painted works, the great artist provided illustrations for over 150 books, including Balzac’s Le Chef-d’Oeuvre Inconnu (1927) and another ancient Greek artefact, Lysistrata, released in 1934. He also dabbled in graphic design, making posters for the likes of Amnesty International.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses with illustrations by Pablo Picasso is released by Skira Limited Editions.

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