Pablo Picasso is considered an artistic master, partly because Picasso´s oeuvre extends far beyond traditional painting methods, and encompasses all artistic mediums including: lithography, etching, linocut, and fine art pottery. Picasso gleaned a particular joy in creating ceramics, as evidenced by Picasso´s thousands of ceramic objects including: wittily decorated terra cotta plates, charming ceramic figures, earthenware pitchers, clay masks, glazed plaques and hand–painted tiles, all created with Picasso´s child–like whimsy.
By the late 1940's, Picasso was withdrawing from the pressures of Paris and spending more and more time at the Picasso home Galloise, a villa above the town of Vallauris in the south of France. The town of Vallauris had been blessed with ground that yielded excellent clay, and Vallauris had been an important ceramics–producing center from Roman times to the 1920's. In 1946 Picasso was invited by George and Suzanne Ramie to visit the Madoura Pottery factory, and in 1947 Picasso began to create his own ceramics at Madoura. Between 1947–1971 Pablo Picasso created more than 3,000 ceramic objects at the Madoura Pottery factory, including: ceramic plates, ceramic pitchers, hand–painted ceramic tiles, enamel glazed ashtrays, ceramic vases, and ceramic plaques. For a decade Picasso would also produced posters for Vallauris´ small summer Ceramics Festival.
While working in the ceramic medium, Picasso would deliberately mismatch or reposition handles or spouts in order to ingeniously create facial or anatomical features on the ceramic objects. Picasso would pick up discarded scraps of unfired clay to create seated or standing female figures, reiterating Picasso´s reflexive obsession with the female form. When is a vessel just a vessel for Picasso? Almost never. Along with Suzanne Ramie's technical tips, Picasso used unconventional tools for surface patterning such as kitchen knives or perforated cooking utensils. The dominant themes of Picasso´s clay pottery became: the face; still lifes, bucolic scenes evoking a mythical Mediterranean past, bullfights, and animals like birds and fish. In short, many of Picasso´s life–long interests conveniently found new expression in the ceramic medium.