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For many people, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was undoubtedly the most important artist of the 20th century. Born in Málaga, Spain, Picasso revealed his genius at a very early age and was quick to make contact with the most advanced art circles of his time, first in Barcelona and later in Paris. In the modernist quest for novelty, Picasso turned to pre-modern history and ÂprimitiveÊ art for inspiration. We owe him and his colleague Georges Braque the invention of Cubism, not just one of many avant-garde movements but the aesthetic that would change the art of painting forever. Once free from traditional values, Picasso produced an outstanding oeuvre, both in terms of variety and quality.



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Date de parution 04 juillet 2023
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781785257063
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 5 Mo

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Victoria Charles & Anatoli Podoksik

Pablo Picasso

Bull , 1947. Ceramic, reddish clay, 37 x 23 x 37 cm. Musée Picasso, Antibes.

Man Ray , Pablo Picasso, 1934. Musée national d'Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. © 2014 Man Ray Trust / Adagp, Paris.
Victoria Charles & Anatoli Podoksik
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or adapted without the permission of the copyright holder, throughout the world. Unless otherwise specified, copyright on the works reproduced lies with the respective photographers, artists, heirs or estates. Despite intensive research, it has not always been possible to establish copyright ownership. Where this is the case, we would appreciate notification.
ISBN: 978-1-78525-706-3
Barcelona and Paris 1901-1906
Cubism 1907-1914
Rappel à l’ordre 1915-1925
Contacts with Surrealism 1926-1937
War and Peace 1937-1960
Final Years 1961-1973
List of Illustrations
Barcelona and Paris 1901-1906

Child with a Dove , 1901. Oil on canvas, 73 x 54 cm. Private collection
Painted when Picasso was twenty, this painting marks one of his first steps towards his artistic maturity. It shows his debts with Post-Impressionist masters, especially Gauguin and Van Gogh, in his choice of pure colours and plain perspective. This tender depiction of a child marks a contrast with the vigorous, sometimes violent, character of his later oeuvre. Although it would not be until many decades later that Picasso would use it as a sign of peace, the dove nursed by the child in this painting can be seen as a premonition of this symbolism.

Yo, Picasso , 1901. Oil on canvas, 73.5 x 60.5 cm. Private collection
This is the portrait of a painter aware of his enormous potential. Picasso embarked on his second trip to Paris, one of the Meccas of modern art, with the promise of an exhibition at Ambroise Vollard’s gallery. Picasso would exhibit this self-portrait at the show. He depicts himself as a member of the bohemian avant-garde of Montmartre with an ease demonstrated in the vigorous brushstrokes he employs. It is impressive to witness the high opinion Picasso had of himself at such a young age: on the top left-hand corner of the canvas, he emphatically signs “Yo, Picasso” (I, Picasso).

Self-Portrait , 1901. Oil on canvas, 81 x 60 cm. Musée Picasso Paris, Paris
This self-portrait of the artist at the age of twenty is one of the masterpieces that Picasso produced during his Blue Period. During this time (late 1901-1904), Picasso’s palette became predominantly blue, a colour associated with the melancholy of the themes he depicted throughout these years. In comparison to Yo, Picasso , this painting is more introspective and haunting. But what is truly remarkable in this comparison is the fact that they were made during the same year. What in many artists would be a life-long evolution took place in Picasso in a matter of months, perhaps weeks. This is the first in a long line of major stylistic shifts in Picasso’s work.

Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas , 1901. Oil on canvas, 150 x 90.5 cm. Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris
In February 1901, the artist Carlos Casagemas shot himself in the company of his friends at a Parisian café after being rejected by a woman whom he was in love with. The twenty-year-old artist was a close friend of Picasso, with whom he shared his studio. Deeply affected, the suicide of Casagemas was one of the episodes that marked the beginning of Picasso’s Blue Period. Of the various paintings he made relating to the death of his friend, and although he did not attend the funeral, Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas is the most complex. On purely pictorial terms, the composition clearly reminds us of the works of El Greco (consider The Burial of Conde Orgaz ), a comparison that Picasso undoubtedly aimed for.
The lower part of the painting depicts the dead Casagemas surrounded by nine mourners. This is repeated in the upper half, where another nine figures – some, shockingly, resemble prostitutes – weep and watch Casagemas ascending into the heavens riding a white horse. A naked woman kisses him as he extends his arms in the form of a crucifixion. This work’s symbolism has never fully been explained, but it would seem to place Casagemas as a somewhat heroic figure, the apotheosis of a tragic victim.

La Vie , 1903. Oil on canvas, 196.5 x 129.2 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
Possibly ‘the masterwork’ of Picasso’s Blue Period, La Vie is an enigmatic painting. A young couple faces an older woman with a baby in her arms. Behind them, two paintings hang on the wall. The young man, who points at the woman, was originally destined to be a self-portrait, but Picasso would later substitute it for the features of Casagemas. The meaning of the composition remains unclear, and opinions range from the theme of sacred and profane love to the cycle of life and the hard conditions of a working-class couple.

Gertrude Stein , 1905-1906. Oil on canvas, 100 x 81.3 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Gertrude Stein was an American writer who had moved to France in 1903. She and her brothers were avid collectors of modern art, and their Parisian home at 27 rue de Fleurus became a place of reunion for many modern artists and writers, such as Picasso, Matisse, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway. Stein was a great collector of the works of Picasso, and in 1905 he began this portrait of her. He spent much time painting it, only to have the sitter complain after its completion for its lack of resemblance. Picasso prophetically assured her that, in due time, she would end up looking like the painting.

Family of Saltimbanques , 1905. Oil on canvas, 212.8 x 229.6 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
This is one of the most significant paintings of Picasso’s so-called Rose Period. He resorts to one of the most recurrent themes of these years, the world of the circus. Picasso does not choose to depict the festive image of the performances of these saltimbanques, but rather a more private one, away from the public eye. There is no movement here, but stillness; no joy, but rather melancholic contemplation. Picasso’s painting presents this family of circus performers as a neglected class, artists with whom the young painter identified, he himself leading an unstable life in search of recognition during his first years in Paris.

Self-Portrait with Palette , 1906. Oil on canvas, 91.9 x 73.3 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Hastily leaving the Catalan village of Gósol, where he was spending the summer, because of an outbreak of typhus, Picasso returned to Paris with his head shaved bald. Perhaps that led him to depict himself in this self-portrait as a youthful Adam the artist. It would be more accurate, however, to say that that was the way he felt. The gaze of this Adam the artist, with his powerful torso and arms, is not focused on the external; it looks inwards. Picasso looks here as he did in a photograph taken when he was fifteen, and this projection of self-as-adolescent tells us that he saw himself as a novice, striving, for the first time, for what was to be his life’s cause.
Cubism 1907-1914
After being impressed with the almond-shaped eyes and elongated, egg-shaped faces of African masks, Picasso returned to a recent work and repainted the faces of its five figures. The blend of the mask shapes with his desire to reduce visual realities to abstract forms and to simultaneously show multiple points of view resulted in this breakthrough work that moved the artist from his African period to Cubism. The challenge of evolving this new art form would possess the artist for several years of his long life. The landscapes of Cézanne, as well as his Bathers , influenced Picasso’s representation of the jagged planes of the work so as to give the figures continual motion. The ‘Avignon’ mentioned in the title refers to a street in Barcelona’s commercial sex district. The faces of the women (especially the two on the right) are also clearly inspired by African art. The exhibition of ‘ art nègre ’ given in Paris in 1906 had a great impact on the artist. Initially, Picasso had depicted men (sailors and students) in his preliminary drawings (vol. 1, p. 94). He later excluded them so that it is the spectator who becomes the intruder in the scene.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon , 1907. Oil on canvas, 243.9 x 233.7 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Woman with a Fan , 1907. Oil on canvas, 152 x 101 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
This painting is a great example of Picasso’s rapid shift towards Analytical Cubism. Picasso makes a clear statement of his aim to break away from traditional pictorial representation. Unique, central perspective has disappeared; we now have various, simultaneous points of view. The seated woman, which still derives from African and Iberian sculpture, is presented to us in what at first seems to be a front view. Little must we look, though, to discover that there are various perspectives converging on one same plane. For instance, we see the woman’s left breast from the front, but this contrasts with her face, which can be seen from a bird’s-eye view. This process would become evermore complex as Picasso, along with Georges Braque (see vol. 1, p. 155 and p. 162), developed Analytical Cubism throughout the following years.

Bread and Fruit Dish on a Table , 1908-1909. Oil on canvas, 163.7 x 132.1 cm. Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel
In his first approaches to what would later be c

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