Fitzgerald, Ella. (1917–1996) & Picasso, Pablo. (1881–1973) "Ella" - Rare Picasso Poster
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Rare original poster from Ella Fitzgerald's 1986 Westwood Playhouse concert performances featuring Joe Pass & the Paul Smith Trio, featuring a printed 1970 sketch of the singer by Pablo Picasso. Signed in the stone: "Pour Ella Fitzgerald / son ami Picasso / le 28.5.1970."From the edition of 100. Mounted on cardboard. Slight toning around the edges. 23 x 34 inches. Attractively framed.
The striking drawing of Ella Fitzgerald -- with curly hair, large breasts, and waves of music coming from her mouth -- was created by Picasso at the request of his friend, American jazz impresario Norman Granz. Later, the image and inscription were reproduced on lithographed posters announcing her 1986 West Los Angeles engagement with Joe Pass and the Paul Smith Trio, at the Westwood Playhouse.
Although Picasso seems to capture the essence of Ella in the sketch, they never met and apparently had a mutual lack of interest in the other. According to Picasso biographer John Richardson, the painter "liked jazz, or more accurately, he liked the idea of jazz." Granz's biographer Tad Hershorn writes that Picasso likely only had a "broad sense" of Granz's work as a promoter. “Someone who shared this indifference to celebrity was Ella Fitzgerald, who turned aside an invitation to meet Picasso at teatime when she had a day off in Juan-les-Pins. ‘I’m busy. I’m darning my stockings, and I have some other things I’m sewing, so I can’t go.’ 'That's great,' Picasso said, roaring with laughter when Granz told him. 'Now I really want to meet her!' Granz added that Picasso had never seen so much as a photograph of Fitzgerald when he did a well-known sketch of her on a blank page of an art catalog on March 28, 1970, which Granz soon gave her. ‘He had no idea what she looked like,’ Granz said. ‘But in his own genius way, the picture was perfect.’" (Tad Hershorn: Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice, 2011.)
Robert Hilburn reviewed the 1986 concert in the LA Times: "...The show's second half, however, was even more of a revelation as Fitzgerald, dueting with guitarist Joe Pass, moved closer to her jazz roots on several free-flowing scat numbers that were as lively and invigorating as anything you'd expect from the hottest new kid on the block. She ended with a scorching blues excursion, backed vigorously by both Pass (who opened the second half with a 20-minute solo stint) and the trio."