Back in 1949, LIFE magazine's Gijon Mili paid Pablo Picasso a visit at his home in the South of France. Mili, who was a technical prodigy and lighting innovator, showed Picasso some of his photos of ice skaters with tiny lights attached to their skates and jumping in the dark. The preeminent artist was so taken by the images that he asked Mili to try an experiment. Their early attempts at "light drawings" were promising, leading the two to collaborate on several projects.

Over the course of the same year, Picasso posed for five sessions, projecting 30 drawings of centaurs, bulls, Greek profiles, and his signature.

LIFE magazine explains how the remarkable effect was achieved:

By leaving the shutters open, he caught the light streaks swirling through space."

This series of photographs, known ever since as Picasso's "light drawings," were made with a small electric light in a darkened room; in effect, the images vanished as soon as they were created - and yet they still live, six decades later, in Mili's playful, hypnotic images.

What's particularly incredible about these drawings is how Picasso-eque they look; these drawings, though etched in thin air, could very easily have passed for one of his canvas-based drawings.

Many of these images were put on display in early 1950 at the New York's Museum of Modern Art, but a number of the images shown here were only recently released by LIFE magazine.

All images via LIFE. H/t Design Blooms.