Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1950 © 2010 Philadelphia Museum of Art. All rights reserved © Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2011
Pablo Picasso - Autorretrato con paleta
When he arrived in Paris in 1900, Pablo Picasso hadn’t yet become the ‘Genius of Malaga’ or even Picasso for that matter. The 19-year-old student of the brush and pencil was, to the few friends he had, Pablo, a painter of portraits and drawings in the Realist style.
In 1900, Paris was already crowded with the likes of Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, Rodin, Steinlen, Gauguin and, at the height of his mastery, Van Gogh. To an artist of limited genius, this environment may have been overwhelming, even maddening; but this was Picasso, a man whose propensity to absorb and integrate artistic styles was boundless. ‘Devorar París (Devouring Paris) brings together the work of Picasso along with work from his Parisian contemporaries during this time period to showcase this propensity. For those fascinated by his frenetic stylistic changes, this exhibit offers great insight into the Blue and Rose Periods—if anything, ‘Devorar París’ radiates colour—and some of his early experiments with perspective and point of view; for fans of Paris and La Belle Époque, they will also find this exhibition a treat in its portrayal of the sumptuously emotional life of the city in the early 20th century.
Picasso fed off the ideas of the painters around him and the enticing life of the city. Looking at these early paintings, that much is obvious. The observer can see an almost literal translation of Toulouse-Lautrec in Picasso’s Jardin de Paris, while the pieces comprising his Blue Period pay homage to a moribund Paris that moved him deeply. What becomes clear more slowly, what is perhaps the most compelling element of the entire exhibit, is that over the same period of time, Picasso’s work fundamentally changed the artists around him. In seven short years, he matured from a young and voracious student of painting to the magnetic pole and standard-bearer for one of the richest artistic communities in modern history.
Museu Picasso - Until October 16th. www.museupicasso.bcn.es