Picasso's Blue Period

Picasso's Blue Period

The Blue Period ( _es. Periodo Azul) of Picasso is the period between 1900 and 1904, when he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. These somber works, inspired by Spain but painted in Paris, are now some of his most popular works, although he had difficulty selling them at the time.

This period's starting point is uncertain; it may have begun in Spain in the spring of 1901, or in Paris in the second half of the year. [Cirlot, 1972, p.127.] In choosing austere color and sometimes doleful subject matter—prostitutes, beggars and drunks are frequent subjects—Picasso was influenced by a journey through Spain and by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas, who took his life at the L’Hippodrome Café in Paris, France by shooting himself in the right temple on February 17 1901. Although Picasso himself later recalled, "I started painting in blue when I learned of Casagemas's death", [Wattenmaker and Distel, 1993, p. 192.] art historian Hélène Seckel has written: "While we might be right to retain this psychologizing justification, we ought not lose sight of the chronology of events: Picasso was not there when Casagemas committed suicide in Paris ... it was only in the fall that this dramatic event emerged in his painting, with several portraits of the deceased". [Wattenmaker and Distel, 1993, p. 304.]

Starting in the latter part of 1901 he painted several posthumous portraits of Casagemas, culminating in the gloomy allegorical painting "La Vie", painted in 1903 and now in the Cleveland Museum of Art. [Wattenmaker and Distel, 1993, p. 304] The same mood pervades the well-known etching "The Frugal Repast" (1904), which depicts a blind man and a sighted woman, both emaciated, seated at a nearly bare table. Blindness is a recurrent theme in Picasso's works of this period, also represented in "The Blindman's Meal" (1903, the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and in the portrait of "Celestina" (1903). Other frequent subjects include female nudes and mothers with children.

Possibly his most well known work from this period is "The Old Guitarist." Other major works include "Portrait of Soler" (1903) and "Las dos hermanas" (1904). Picasso's Blue Period was followed by his Rose Period.

The painting "Portrait of Suzanne Bloch" (1904), one of the final works from this period, was stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) on December 20, 2007, but retrieved on January 8, 2008.



*Cirlot, Juan-Eduardo (1972). "Picasso: Birth of a Genius". New York and Washington: Praeger.
*Wattenmaker, Richard J.; Distel, Anne, et al. (1993). "Great French Paintings from the Barnes Foundation". New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-40963-7
*Becht-Jördens, Gereon; Wehmeier, Peter M. (2003). "Picasso und die christliche Ikonographie. Mutterbeziehung und künstlerische Position". Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag. ISBN 3-496-01272-2

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