In the series, Picasso creates eleven portraits of bulls in which their outlines gradually become consciously more abstracted and minimalist, going from a relatively detailed and faithful lithograph of a real-life bull in plate one to a mere outline of its shape by plate eleven. This study in particular (Bull Study 1946) is a synthesis of the design process Picasso took on in his lithograph plates. Looking at the collection of bulls in Bull Study 1946, each is reduced to a line drawing which distills and caricatures a bull's animalistic shape, turning them into sketches of an alien like form.
Picasso's drawn lines overlap and flow as if mathematically conceived, in an attempt to create a condensed "essence" of the bull as an illustration. From plate one to plate eleven, Picasso's Bull studies are successive and progressive analyses of form, style and content, creating a masterwork in understanding a subject from the academic to the abstract. Produced at the end of the Second World War, Picasso's Bull Studies were reflective of his mature postwar style. Then in his sixties, Picasso engaged in an affair with a young art student—Françoise Gilot—as his new mistress, among other infidelities, which influenced his output and outlook on art.
The bull itself was a metaphor with undefined meaning which came to represent a number of things; from Spain and its people through fascism, the bull also came to stand in for the virility Picasso felt in old age as a reflection of his own self image. As a preliminary sketch of this series, Bull Study 1946 underscores the new direction Picasso had outlined for his work and of distilling form in general. So pervasive was Picasso's technique of dissecting meaning from form that—in the contemporary era—Apple's internal division has used Picasso's bull studies to explain their own company’s design process. According to co.design, Picasso's bull accurately described Apple's company ethos.