On January 1st, 2019, a group of Pablo Picasso artworks will enter the public domain in the United States. A small but significant selection of will be completely free for re-use and publication of any sort.
According to copyright law, for the first time in twenty years, thousands of books will be free from copyright. Among them is a work by French poet, artist, and writer Jean Cocteau, a man with whom Picasso shared a long friendship. The tiny, unassuming book, entitled simply Picasso, includes a total of 14 works by the artist. Some of those 14 works have been published prior to 1923, so they are not the focus of this article – this article is about the brand new (to 2019) copyright-free works.
The book includes the Rose Period’s Boy Leading a Horse a work whose influence from Cezanne and El Greco are clearly visible. Ownership of this work was hotly debated when in 2007 both the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation asked a court to declare them the canvas’ rightful owner. The matter was settled out of court and the piece remained with MoMA. And now, as it enters the public domain, the image may see new incarnations as its representation becomes public property.
In fact, all the images you see on this page are now copyright free.
Picasso’s famous construction Guitar also makes an appearance in Cocteau’s book. It was a work that marked the artist’s first foray into assemblage and amused his friends who asked whether it was painting or sculpture. There are actually many versions of this work, so if you are going to use it, be extra careful.
Glass, Guitar, and Bottle, considered one of the more complex works of the Synthetic Cubist period in its use of material and different surface effects, also appeared in Cocteau’s text.
One of the later works presented in Cocteau’s book is Saltimbanque Seated with Arms Crossed. As the work enters the public domain, will this alabaster-faced acrobat spring from the pages of a dusty book and join the Munch iPhone covers, Van Gogh yoga leggings, and Klimt scarves and decorative cushions that pop up for sale online?
The Art Story endeavors to carry out the most meticulous research possible. However, if readers are aware of any other texts containing works by Pablo Picasso published in 1923, please email us at [email protected]. The Picasso works that are already considered to be in the public domain in the US are on this Wikipedia page (but it is possible some works were not included by Wikipedia).
Disclaimer: The Art Story Foundation has discovered this book and our research shows that the Picasso works discussed in this article are copyright free. But we want to stress that The Art Story is not a legal expert – any and all usage of the above works should be thoroughly verified. Outside the United States, each country has different laws determining copyrights. UK and EU member countries may have similar reciprocal protection laws, but we recommend for publishers in those countries to speak with a legal expert.