Throughout Pablo Picasso’s career, his extraordinary sensitivity to materials and inventive imagination were revealed in his sculptural practice. During World War II (1939–45), when traditional materials were scarce, he began using bicycle parts, toys, springs, and other found objects to create works of art. Female Bather Playing features a motif to which Picasso repeatedly returned. It is one of two bronze casts whose compositions were inspired by a sculpture that is part of a group of standing bathers the artist designed to be installed around a pool made from wood scraps, plaster, and corrugated cardboard. This humorous figure takes on a life of its own with its large flat breasts, flipper-like hands, vacant eyes, sly smile, and tubular legs that are truncated by the base, which takes the place of the surface of the water.
Label from Picasso: The Artist and His Models, November 5, 2016–February 19, 2017