Picasso's phone number, and a $35,000 sun drawing

Photographer: Press photo


If you want to see an original Picasso this weekend don’t bother booking that trip to Barcelona. You won’t even need to drive to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Soleil de Mediterranee” – an original Picasso is being displayed at the HIVE Artspace in York on November 8 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. And a special short sneak peek of the drawing takes place the night before during The HIVE’s First Friday reception.

“Soleil de Mediterranee” was previously owned by a private collector and has never been displayed in a public museum. This is an extremely rare opportunity to see a piece of art history. And you don’t even have to leave Central PA.

Before the days of smartphones, you actually had to write your phone number on a piece of paper if you wanted to give it to a friend. And if you were a friend of Pablo Picasso, you may have also received a wax pastel (read: fancy crayons) drawing along with the celebrated artist’s telephone number. At least that’s the case with “Soleil de Mediterranee.”

Basically, Picasso gave a friend his phone number and $35,000 worth of wax pastel sunshine.


Picasso’s “Soleil de Meditteranee” depicts a whimsical sun vibrating over the Mediterranean Sea. The interesting thing is that the drawing is seemingly just a message to a close friend. It’s inscribed in French and translates to “My dear friend – my telephone here – 901-82” and is signed “My best to you – Picasso.” The drawing is dated August 7, 1956. And the location, “La Californie” – Picasso’s villa and studio in Cannes, France – is also noted.

In 1956, Picasso was living and working in the La Californie villa in Cannes. He was already a massive celebrity at the time and his studio became a huge tourist attraction. He stayed in La Californie for only two years. During that time he produced a series of paintings of his girlfriend Jacqueline Roque – including this one.

“Soleil de Mediterranee” was produced during this sunny time in an already-famous artist’s golden years.

“Soleil de Mediterranee” is not exactly “Guernica” but it’s still an original Pablo Picasso – probably the most innovative, influential and celebrated artist ever. The drawing is also interesting because “it gives a glimpse at a more personal side of the artist,” says Susan Scofield, co-owner of The HIVE Artspace, “that he would include a drawing with a casual note to a friend or new acquaintance.”

“Soleil de Mediterranee” is currently being auctioned at Hake’s Americana and Collectibles. Hake’s is known for pop culture collectibles (last year, Hake’s auctioned original artwork from a 1964 issue of Action Comics, which sold for over $112,000). “Certainly there are more well-known Picasso works and these would command much higher prices,” says Alex Winter president of Hake’s Americana & Collectibles, “but in the end a Picasso is still a Picasso.”

The starting bid for “Soleil de Meditteranee” is $20,000 and the estimated value of this piece of Picasso history is between $35,000-$50,000. Bidding ends November 13 at 12 p.m.

Picasso’s fancy crayon sun is valued around $35,000, but if you don’t have that kind of cash laying around, maybe I could interest you in a little something I worked on for about 5 minutes this morning? It’s a mixed media piece made with flourscent ink and graphite (AKA Hi-liters and pencil). Starting bid is $3.




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Posted in Arts+Culture, Arts+Culture – York, Out & About, Out & About – York

Mike Andrelczyk is a features editor for Fly Magazine. He is a graduate of Penn State University and currently lives with his wife Stacey in Strasburg. Interests include tennis, playing bad guitar, poetry (poems have appeared in Modern Haiku, The Inquisitive Eater and other journals) and oneirology – the study of dreams – mostly in the form of afternoon naps. His name appears in the title screen of Major League 2.

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