Pablo Ruiz Picasso (Malaga, October 25, 1881-Mougins, April 8, 1973) was a Spanish painter and sculptor, creator, along with Georges Braque, of Cubism.
He is considered since the genesis of the twentieth century as one of the greatest painters who participated in the various artistic movements that spread around the world and exerted a great influence on other great artists of his time. His works are present in museums and collections throughout Europe and the world. In addition, he tackled other genres such as drawing, engraving, book illustration, sculpture, ceramics and set and costume design for theatrical productions. He also has a short literary work.
Politically, Picasso declared himself a pacifist and communist. He was a member of the Communist Party of Spain and the French Communist Party until his death, which occurred on April 8, 1973 at the age of ninety-one, in his house called “Notre-Dame-de-Vie” in the French town of Mougins. He is buried in the park of the castle of Vauvenargues (Bouches-du-Rhone).
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso (according to his birth certificate) or Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (according to his baptismal certificate), was the first son of José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso López. He was born on October 25, 1881 in Malaga (Spain), into a bourgeois family. Picasso had two sisters, Dolores (1884-1958) and Concepción (1887-1895). His maternal great-grandfather, Tommaso Picasso (born in 1787), was originally from the town of Sori in Genoa, Italy, and moved to Spain around 1807.
Of his father it is known that he wanted to be an artist and was a professor of drawing at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Telmo. Little is known about his mother; it seems that her personality was stronger than her husband”s, and Picasso always had more respect and tenderness for her, which some believe can be seen in the portrait he drew of her in 1923. Pablo began to paint at an early age; in 1889, at the age of eight, after a bullfight and under the direction of his father, he painted The Yellow Picador, from which he always refused to separate himself.
In 1891, the family was forced to leave Malaga, due to the little economic stability they enjoyed. José Ruiz Blasco had begun to ask repeatedly for a transfer to the city of La Coruña, where a teaching position had been created at the School of Fine Arts after his dismissal as curator of the Museum of Fine Arts in Malaga in 1888. The change was not at all pleasant for his family, as is reflected in the expression that Picasso recalled of his father at this stage: “No Malaga, no bullfighting, no friends, no nothing”, “Only for me the move to Galicia was a celebration”. In Galicia, Pablo worked on his drawings and showed a strong confidence in himself and in his gifts; he was ten years old. His first works, of a vigorous and almost fierce realism, showed an early predilection for popular characters. In La Coruña he made his first exhibition at the age of thirteen and published caricatures and drawings in the hand-published magazines “La Coruña”, “Azul y Blanco” and “Torre de Hércules”.
The year 1895 was a year of important events in his childhood; in January, his sister Concepción died, and in September his father obtained a chair at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, where the young Pablo was admitted as a student and studied for two years, which led him to paint, perhaps to please his father, a series of paintings in which the sentimental academicism of the style was surprising after the vitality of the portraits he had painted in La Coruña.
A brilliant and precocious student, Picasso passed in a single day, at the age of fourteen, the entrance exam to the Escuela de la Lonja, and was allowed to skip the first two classes. According to one of the many legends about the artist, his father, after recognizing his son”s extraordinary talent when he saw his first childish works, gave him his brushes and palette and promised never to paint again in his life.
Unlike music, there are no child prodigies in painting. What people perceive as premature genius is the genius of childhood. It does not gradually disappear as it ages. It is possible that such a child may become a real painter one day, perhaps even a great painter. But he would have to start from the beginning. So, as far as I was concerned, I was not a genius. My early drawings have never been shown in an exhibition of children”s drawings. I lacked a child”s awkwardness, his naivety. I have made academic drawings at the age of seven, with a precision that I am afraid of.
Youth: his friendships in Paris
In 1912 during his stay in the city of Paris, Picasso was part of a circle of distinguished friends in the neighborhoods of Montmartre and Montparnasse, they were André Breton, poet; Guillaume Apollinaire, writer; Alfred Jarry; and Gertrude Stein. Apollinaire was arrested on suspicion of having stolen the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, and being part of an international gang of thieves. Apollinaire blamed his friend Picasso, who was also subjected to interrogation, but both were later exonerated.
In the winter of 1895 he painted his first great academic canvas, La primera comunión (Museo Picasso, Barcelona), in Barcelona, where he lived for nine years, except for some summer vacations and more or less long stays in Madrid and Paris. In 1897 he presented the canvas Ciencia y caridad (Museo Picasso, Barcelona) at the Exposición General de Bellas Artes in Madrid. During the summer he once again spent his vacations in Malaga, where he painted landscapes and bullfights.
In September, he went to Madrid to begin studies at the San Fernando Academy, but soon left the Academy: the intellectual atmosphere of the capital, impervious to the Catalan modernism that Picasso was trying to introduce (he founded a small magazine in 1901, Arte Joven, which had a rather brief existence) did not convince him. Nevertheless, he took advantage of his frequent visits to the Prado Museum to learn more about the work of El Greco, which was vindicated by artists and scholars of the late 19th century.
Since 1898 he signed his works as “Pablo Ruiz Picasso”, then as “Pablo R. Picasso”, and only as “Picasso” since 1901. The change does not seem to imply a rejection of the paternal figure; rather it obeyed Picasso”s desire to distinguish himself as a character, initiated by his Catalan friends, who took the habit of calling him by his maternal surname, much less common than the paternal Ruiz.
He returned to Barcelona in June 1898, ill with scarlet fever, and moved to Horta de Ebro (now Horta de San Juan), the village of his friend Manuel Pallarés, located south of the Ebro near the town of Gandesa (Tierra Alta, Tarragona). During this stay, Picasso rediscovered the primordial roots of the country and a certain return to nature, more in line with the modernist ideology, which was one of the first “primitivist” episodes of his career.
Abandoning the intention of living in Madrid to dedicate himself to copy the great masters, in February 1899 he was back in Barcelona, where he began to frequent the Els Quatre Gats brewery, the flagship of the modernist bohemia and the place where he held his first solo exhibition and made friends with Jaime Sabartés and Carlos Casagemas. In this environment Picasso came into contact with anarchist thought, implanted in Barcelona. The prevailing misery in the slums of Barcelona, the sick and wounded soldiers returning to Spain after the disastrous Cuban War, created a breeding ground of social violence that undoubtedly marked, at an individual and moral level rather than purely political, the sensitivity of Picasso, and that can be seen in certain drawings made between 1897 and 1901: The prisoner, An anarchist miting.
In October 1900 he visited Paris with Casagemas to attend the Universal Exposition, where a work of his, Last Moments, now disappeared, was exhibited. In Paris he settled in the studio of Isidre Nonell, a Catalan artist that Picasso knew from the group Els Quatre Gats influenced by Impressionism and who reflected the Catalan social situation at the beginning of the century through portraits of marginalized and miserable characters. Nonell”s work, along with that of Toulouse-Lautrec, greatly influenced Picasso”s style at this time, which can be seen in works such as La espera (Margot), Bailarina enana (Dwarf Dancer) and El final del número (The End of the Number), both from 1901. He also met his first dealer, Pere Mañach (who offered him 150 francs a month for all his work for a year) and came into contact with the gallery owner Berthe Weill. He returned to Barcelona on December 20 or 23 (according to different sources) with Casagemas, whom Picasso took with him to celebrate the end of the year in Malaga.
Between Barcelona and Paris. The blue period
Picasso”s blue period is known as the one that runs approximately from 1901 to 1904: this name comes from the color that dominates the chromatic range of the paintings, and has its origin in the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas on February 17, 1901, which left him full of pain and sadness. Casagemas, after having tried to murder his lover Germaine, a dancer at the Moulin Rouge who frequented the circle of Spanish artists, committed suicide in Paris. Picasso, motivated and sensitized by the death of his friend, painted a picture he called The Burial of Casagemas, an allegorical painting that began to show his passage to the blue period. The division of the space of the painting into two parts, earth and sky, body and spirit, recalls that of El Greco”s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.
Other influences on Picasso”s work during this period were those of Van Gogh and Gauguin, the former above all on a psychological level, as reflected in the emotional intensity of the paintings of this period, although there is also a simplification of volumes and defined contours that make one think of Gauguin, from whom he would also take a universal conception of sentimentality. Picasso manifested the solitude of the characters by isolating them in an imprecise environment, with an almost exclusive use of blue for a period of more than two years, a fact that was practically unprecedented in the history of art. Likewise, the elongation of the figures that was being introduced in his works was again reminiscent of the style of El Greco.
Picasso was a tireless worker. At the end of April 1901 he returned to Barcelona, where he was exhibiting Woman in Blue (Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid) at the General Exhibition of Fine Arts, and then in May he went back to Paris, where he settled at 130 Boulevard de Clichy, where Casagemas had had his studio. Between June and July of the same year, Picasso and Iturrino held an exhibition at Vollard”s gallery in Paris. Without money or work, in June he met the poet Max Jacob, with whom he would maintain a close relationship until Jacob”s death in 1944. The poet would later recall that he discovered Picasso”s work and, being an art critic, expressed his admiration for the painter”s talent. Shortly afterwards he received an invitation from Mañach to introduce him to the young man he represented (they spent the whole day looking at the enormous work of Picasso, who at that time was painting one or two pictures a night, and selling them for one hundred and fifty francs in the Rue Laffite. During the autumn he painted The Two Saltimbanquis (Harlequin and his companion) (Pushkin Museum, Moscow), Harlequin supported (the Portrait of Jaime Sabartés (Museu Picasso, Barcelona), the Portrait of Mateu Fernández de Soto (Museu Picasso, Málaga) and the blue Self-portrait (Museu Picasso, Paris).
At the end of January 1902 he broke his agreement with Mañach, and after the corresponding settlement he returned to Barcelona. He began to work in the studio of Ángel Fernández de Soto, at number 6, Nou de la Rambla Street, where during the spring the color blue began to dominate his work. With Fernández de Soto he visited the brothels of Barcelona, which was reflected in a series of erotic drawings including a Self-portrait with nude (an ink and watercolor drawing of Ángel Fernández de Soto with a woman) and La macarra (allegorical composition), owned by the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.
In Paris, Mañach arranged an exhibition of paintings and pastels at the Berthe Weill gallery, April 1-15, with works by Picasso and Lemaire, and another in June at the same gallery with works by Picasso and Matisse. In Barcelona Picasso received a notice to join the military service in October. To avoid it, he had to pay two thousand pesetas, an amount that was provided by his uncle. Just afterwards he returned to Paris with Sébastien Junyer, and showed his blue paintings for the first time from November 15 to December 15 in a group exhibition organized again by Mañach at the Berthe Weill gallery.
From that date dates a Portrait of Germaine that Acquavella Galleries acquired for $18.6 million at a Christie”s auction in 2006. In December 1902 he moved for a time to Max Jacob”s apartment at 87 Boulevard Voltaire; the room had only one bed, so Picasso worked at night and slept during the day while Jacob worked. At this time he could not buy canvas, and had to limit himself to drawing.
In January 1903 Picasso returned to Barcelona. In the spring he began the painting Life (Cleveland Museum of Fine Arts), one of the largest and most complex canvases of his blue period, considered his most important work of these years, a work of unusually obscure symbolism in his early works and subject to multiple academic interpretations, on which the artist never pronounced himself. Picasso made four preparatory sketches for the painting, varying the composition of the figures at least twice; it is noteworthy that the male figure, which began as a self-portrait, ended up being a representation of his friend Carlos Casagemas. La Vida summarizes most of the themes and atmosphere of the blue period: the nihilistic pessimism developed in his formative years in Barcelona, recrudesced under the material difficulties he suffers at the time. “He believes that Art is the son of Sadness and Pain”, said his friend Jaime Sabartés. The loneliness of children, the misery of the poor, beggars and blind are often depicted in the paintings of that time: The Two Sisters (Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), Poor on the Seashore (National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C.), The Old Guitar (The Old Guitarist, St. Petersburg), The Poor on the Seashore (National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C.), The Old Guitarist and the Poor on the Seashore (National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C.). C.), The Old Blind Guitarist (Art Institute of Chicago), The Ascetic (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia), and La Celestina (Carlota Valdivia) (Musée Picasso, Paris) are among Picasso”s early masterpieces.
Towards the end of 1903 Picasso began to think that only by settling permanently in France would his reputation go beyond the borders of Spain. He moved to the studio of the sculptor Pablo Gargallo (1881-1934), who was then in Paris, at 28 Carrer del Comerç in Barcelona, where he finished La Celestina (Carlota Valdivia) and began a new Portrait of Jaime Sabartés (Kunsternes Museum, Oslo), which he completed in the spring of 1904.
Paris, Bateau Lavoir. The pink period
In April 1904 Picasso settled in Paris at the Bateau-Lavoir, located in the Montmartre district, in a studio that his friend the sculptor Paco Durrio was about to leave. There he resumed his contact with several Spanish artists who also lived in the Bateau-Lavoir, especially with Ricardo Canals, who taught him in September of the same year the technique of etching, and with his wife; also with Manuel Hugué and his wife Totote, and with Ramón Pichot and Germaine, the dancer for whom his friend Casagemas had committed suicide. During the summer he had a relationship with “Madeleine”, who appears in several drawings and paintings, such as The Acrobat”s Wife (Art Institute of Chicago) and inspired the subject of Harlequin”s Family (1905). In August 1904 Picasso met his first sentimental companion: Fernande Olivier (1881-1966), an artist”s model and friend of Ricardo Canals” wife Benedetta, was known among the Spanish colony of the Bateau-Lavoir as “la belle Fernande”. Both twenty-one years old, Fernande was Picasso”s first true love, and became his source of inspiration until 1910, although their relationship would not end definitively until 1912.
In October 1904 Picasso met the poet André Salmon, and also Guillaume Apollinaire, poet and writer precursor of surrealism, with whom he established a very close relationship. Picasso became a regular at the cabaret Lapin Agile (the “Agile Rabbit”) and the Cirque Medrano. From the time he settled in Montmartre, Picasso”s palette and themes began to change; the poverty and harshness of the lives of circus performers and acrobats brought a new lyricism to his paintings in the transition from the blue period to the so-called pink period. The pink period is distinguished by its pastel colors and warm tones, with soft and delicate lines; with a special emphasis on line and drawing, rather than on color, he continued to work the figures with elongated proportions that recall his admiration for El Greco, as in The Actor (MoMA, New York) or in the watercolor The Madman (Picasso Museum, Barcelona), a recourse to mannerist formulas of which it has been pointed out that Picasso made constant use throughout his career. The themes he dealt with were joy and existential restlessness; as in the blue period, a touch of melancholy underlies, but at that time dominated by affection, with many references to the world of the zoo and the circus. He painted masks, harlequins, tamers and clowns; it is also the time of pink maternity. Representative works of this period are Acrobat with a Ball (Girl with a Ball) (Pushkin Museum, Moscow), The Family of Acrobats (National Gallery of Art, Washington), Acrobat and Young Harlequin (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia) and Family of Acrobats with a Monkey (Göteborgs Kunstmuseum, Gothenburg).
From February 25 to March 6, 1905, he exhibited his first pink canvases at the Sérurier Gallery. The critics spoke of the announcement of a luminous transformation of his talent; after the dramatism of the blue period, Apollinaire described the works of the pink period in the Revue immoraliste: “Under the flashing tinsel of his acrobats, one truly feels the pity of the people, versatile, cunning, crafty, poor and liars”. As Fernande Olivier said, Picasso seemed to love that for which he was not made, that which was different from him: the gypsies, the bullfights, the shady cabarets, the clowns and the circus world; he loved and immersed himself with delight in everything that had a violent local color.
In the spring of the same year he painted one of his major works of that year, La familia de saltimbanquis, a clear evolution towards the pink period; a bare and blurred landscape in which the well-drawn and stylized figures of the puppeteers, marginal characters whose solitary life impressed Picasso, are framed in isolation. One afternoon, after leaving Cirque Médrano with Max Jacob, he decided to model his head in clay, and as he worked on the piece over the next few days, he added the hat and bells of a jester, in the style of circus characters. The piece was called The Madman (Harlequin”s Head) (Musée Picasso, Paris), which the gallery owner Ambroise Vollard had cast in bronze.
During the summer, he made a trip to the north of the Netherlands, and stayed in Schoorl for six weeks at the invitation of the Dutch writer Tom Schilperoort. During his stay he painted a nude, The Beautiful Dutchwoman (Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane), and The Three Dutchwomen (Musée Picasso, Paris), a personal version of the classic theme of the three graces. After a brief stay in Paris, he spent a vacation in August with Fernande in Tiana, northeast of Barcelona. Upon her return in September, Fernande moved into Picasso”s modest studio at the Bateau-Lavoir; the beginning of their relationship was a happy one, and Picasso”s paintings and drawings of Fernande celebrated her beauty and personal closeness. Picasso made a habit of visiting the small galleries, and together with Fernande he attended the popular vernissages of the official salons.
Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo had settled in Paris, and devoted their fortune to amassing an extraordinary art collection. Leo Stein bought Family of Acrobats with Monkeys from art dealer Clovis Sagot, through whom Leo and Gertrude went to visit Picasso”s studio and bought numerous works from him for 900 francs. Picasso became a regular visitor to Gertrude Stein”s salon in her Paris apartment; he painted a portrait of Leo and his son Michael and began the first of the eighty to ninety sittings of the famous Portrait of Gertrude Stein (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Gertrude had recently purchased Matisse”s Woman in a Hat, and decided that the two artists should meet.
In 1906, after three months working on the Portrait of Gertrude Stein, he abandoned it temporarily, and made the first sketches of Les Demoiselles d”Avignon. He abandoned the theme of harlequins for riders and young people in bucolic landscapes, in the line of Gauguin and Puvis de Chavannes, in a search for both thematic and formal classicism, which led Picasso to the study of ancient art; in March he discovered primitive Spanish art in an exhibition at the Louvre of Iberian sculptures found in Osuna and Cerro de los Santos, among which was the Lady of Elche. Ambroise Vollard”s gallery acquired most of the pink canvases also in March. In May he went with Fernande Olivier to Barcelona, where he introduced her to friends and relatives, and then during the summer to Gósol, in Lérida, where he again came into contact with the essential primitivism of popular culture, and painted scenes of bathing and nudes seen from an exquisite mastery of red; this reddish palette of Gósol reflects a concern for the modeling of volumes, and a return to the roots of an archaic Mediterranean. This inspired a series of paintings with characters that rescue certain characteristics of that primitivism, breaking with his previous style. Although the simplification of features and volumes are precursors of cubism, this was a stage with its own entity, which cannot be included in any recognized style. We can observe in these paintings his own facial features even among the female figures, which can be appreciated by comparing them with the self-portraits of this series. This stay had an important impact on Picasso”s work, as the Gósol paintings marked the beginning of his cubist revolution the following year; years later Picasso took up again what would have been the logical course of this style, in his neoclassical period.
The 1906 Salon d”Automne exhibited a Gauguin retrospective that deeply impressed Picasso and greatly influenced his work; the Salon also included ten works by Cézanne, who died around the same time. In winter Picasso painted Two Nude Women (the monumentality of the figures and the autonomous use of light and shadow are reminiscent of Cézanne”s The Great Bathers). Towards the end of the year he stopped painting, and became involved in a series of studies and sketches of nudes for a composition of multiple figures under the theme of the brothel, which would culminate in 1907 with the revolution represented by The Young Ladies of Avignon.
The first reaction of Picasso”s entourage to the ladies” previous studies was generally unfavorable: his friends did not quite understand this new style. In a notebook, Apollinaire described it as a “marvelous language that no literature can express, because our words have already been created.” During the spring of 1907 Picasso met, through Apollinaire, Georges Braque, who after visiting his studio expressed a certain agitation in front of the great painting.
In mid-May he painted Self-Portrait (Národni Galerie, Prague): the line becomes a dominant structural element, marking the features and delineating even the other areas of the image, almost all of which are full of color, and very few of which are modeled. He even left areas of the canvas unpainted. He even left areas of the canvas unpainted. Towards the end of May he began the final canvas of The Young Ladies of Avignon, and the male figures disappeared: one of them, a sailor, was eliminated, and a student on the left was replaced by a nude woman holding a curtain.
Encouraged by André Derain, Picasso visited the Museum of Ethnography at the Trocadero Palace in Paris in 1907. This was his first contact with a large number of African and Oceanic pieces, which both Derain and Matisse had long collected, but to which Picasso had not paid much attention until then. The discovery of non-Western art gave a new impetus to The Young Ladies of Avignon, and also exerted a considerable influence on his sculptural work. Picasso then modified the faces of some of the ladies, the two most “cubist” looking of the five, resembling African masks, while the two central ones are more akin to the style of medieval frescoes and early Iberian sculptures; also the face of the figure on the left presents a profile reminiscent of Egyptian paintings. However, “art négre, connais pas,” was Picasso”s answer to a question in Action magazine in 1920; this proto-Cubist period, which is between 1907 and 1909, is also known as Picasso”s African Period, Black Period or Dark Period; his style was strongly influenced by African sculpture, but the artist always intended the opposite.
The Young Ladies of Avignon (MoMA, New York) represented a new starting point for Picasso, who eliminated references to tradition by breaking with realism, abandoning the canons of spatial depth and perspective, as well as the hitherto existing ideal of the female body, by reducing the work to a set of angular planes, without a delimited background or spatial perspective, in which the forms are marked by light-dark lines. The reddish-ochre tones are characteristic of his gentler pink period, but the rawness of the painting makes them aggressive.
The painting may also have been influenced by the elongated figures of El Greco, in particular by his Vision of the Apocalypse, which Picasso possibly saw that summer in Paris; its structure and composition derive from Cézanne”s The Great Bathers; Cézanne”s painting makes objects a real presence, with special emphasis on volumes and their weight, without the atmospheric palpitation characteristic of Impressionism. According to Fermigier, 1969, p. 69, his retrospective at the 1907 Salon d”Automne determined Picasso”s later evolution. Braque, inspired by Cézanne, also began a series of landscapes that show his transition from Fauvism to his proto-Cubist period.
The relationship with Fernande went into crisis, and they decided to separate in the late summer of 1907, although they reconciled at the end of November. In their absence, Max Jacob and Apollinaire had persuaded Picasso to smoke opium; Picasso moved between the blessings of the visions and the fear of surrendering to apathy and weariness toward work. Picasso”s palette was filled with bright “African” colors: he painted Nude Woman (the Avignon Dancer) (private collection, Lausanne), an epilogue to The Young Ladies of Avignon in which elements based on Iberian and African art reach a new degree of geometric simplification; in the same style, The Dance of the Veils (nude with drapery) (Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), begun in summer and purchased by Gertrude Stein along with preparatory sketches for it; also Flowers on a Table (MoMA, New York). In subsequent works, the flesh tones become ochre and brown, and Picasso is at once confronted with many experiments in rupture in his paintings: the abandonment of perspective; the conquest of space, fragmenting the planes through flat tones with thick, defined outlines; the search for relief, through exaggerated blue outlines on a brown background and thick shading; among them are The Friendship (Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg) and Nude with Towel (private collection, Paris). Picasso”s studio became a center of discussion and debate, and not only about his work. Braque brought his own works there, Matisse and Picasso exchanged paintings: Picasso”s Still Life Pitcher, Bowl and Lemon (Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Basel) for Matisse”s Portrait of Marguerite, his daughter. Picasso and Matisse”s relationship ranged from competition to mockery to intense mutual admiration; Matisse said that no one had looked at his work like Picasso, and no one had looked at Picasso”s work like he had.
With Les Demoiselles d”Avignon as a starting point, Braque and Picasso eventually formulated Cubism in 1908. Cubism was a radical turning point in the history of art that inspired the rest of the artistic avant-garde to abandon pictorial illusionism, rejecting naturalistic description in favor of compositions of forms abstracted from conventional perception, playing with three-dimensionality and the structure of surfaces. This technique, initiated by Picasso and Braque, had many followers, such as Juan Gris, Francis Picabia, Brancusi, Delaunay and Albert Gleizes.
In January 1908 Matisse opened his school, the Academie Matisse. On the other hand, Derain and Braque were followers of Picasso, which, added to their growing friendship with Gertrude Stein, irritated Matisse. At the Salon des Indépendants in May of that year, Derain and Braque presented paintings inspired by Picasso”s new style that caused a great impact among critics. Picasso was outraged that the first exhibition of Cubist art was held without recognition of its role as a source of inspiration; especially Woman (1908), a very recent nude by Braque, which he had not discussed with anyone, not even Picasso. After the Salon closed, Braque went to L”Estaque until September. The African elements gradually gave way in Picasso”s work to effects of Cézanne”s influence, perhaps related to the Cezannist reductivism of Braque”s landscapes.
His friend the German painter Wieghels committed suicide at the Bateau-Lavoir, after an evening in which he consumed an excess of various drugs; this tragedy convinced Picasso and Fernande to abandon opium consumption; Composition with a Dead Man”s Head (Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), completed in late spring, may be a commemoration of Wieghels” death.
During the summer, Braque produced at L”Estaque a series of cubist landscapes in which, more than an inspiration, the break with Cézanne”s mechanized perspective is considered an initiation by the painter. Picasso rented a farmhouse on Rue des Bois-par-Creil-Verneuil-Oise, 60 kilometers north of Paris; Fernande mentioned that with this retreat Picasso sought to overcome the state of nervous agitation that the death of Wieghels had caused him. Both artists began to represent the sensation of relief through the arbitrary application of light and shadow to the detriment of naturalistic shading; forms were simplified to the extreme, with a greater and deeper sculpturality in Picasso”s paintings, whose palette was restricted to a range of browns, grays and greens. Influences of Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) and an early Cezanne can be seen in Picasso”s landscapes.
When Braque submitted his landscapes to the Salon d”Automne in September, the jury, whose members included Matisse, rejected the works. According to Apollinaire, Matisse was the first to apply the terms “cubist” and “cubism” when he rejected Braque”s works submitted to the Salon. This story is considered since 1912 the official origin of the movement. Josep Palau i Fabre points out that the autumn of 1908 marked the beginning of what he calls Picasso”s green period: the still lifes he painted at that time show a formal stylization that is possibly due to the application of the Cezanesque postulates, according to which forms should be reduced to cones, cylinders and spheres. This geometrical schematization does not entail a loss of corporeality in the objects represented, so we can speak of a flat relief. Throughout the summer and the month of October he completed the final version of Three Women (Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), where the African influences of the first studies of the painting are diluted in the new style of the green period.
Following the exhibition of Braque”s works at Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler”s gallery, which was better received by critics than his works presented at the Salon des Indépendants, Picasso hosted a banquet at the Bateau-Lavoir in honor of Rousseau, to celebrate the fact that he had just purchased a work by the painter, Portrait of a Woman, for five francs at Père Soulier”s antique store. During that winter the exchange of ideas between Braque and Picasso increased to a daily level, as their friendship strengthened. The fruit still life, an emblematic motif of Cézanne”s, was one of the subjects the two painters shared at this time: Le compotier (Fruit Dish) (MoMA, New York), Still Life with Fish and Bottles (Musée d”Art Moderne de Lille Métropole, Villeneuve d”Ascq). He also worked during the winter on Carnival at the Bistrot (Musée Picasso, Paris), which would crystallize in early 1909 in Breads and Fruit Bowl with Fruit on a Table (Basel Art Museum).
In the works he painted at Horta, trees and natural forms were obviated, and the superficially amorphous rock was analyzed and broken into planes and then reconstructed by superimposing the planes; in some cases the geometrization extended to the sky, and the whole offered a rigorous composition with a depth that did not envy traditional perspective. The use of light was completely arbitrary, strictly to accentuate contours and sharpen reliefs. Nevertheless, analytical cubism was still a revision rather than a rejection of tradition; the painting remained an illusory window into a represented, reconstructed world. Synthetic Cubism constituted a negation of European tradition; collage broke the inviolability of the painting”s surface and the representation of reality ceased to be the painting”s goal and became its starting point.
In September he moved to Paris, to 11 Boulevard de Clichy. He returned loaded with works of the new style and, despite the rejection of the public and critics in the exhibition that Vollard organized with them, the select group of collectors headed by Gertrude Stein and Sergei Shchukin continued to buy them. Shut away in his new studio, he continued to develop Cubism, which at that time he shared with Braque and a group of Montmartre artists strongly influenced by the new style, including Derain, the Spaniard Juan Gris and Léger. Cubism was spreading throughout Europe, with the constructivist and suprematist Malevich in Russia and Mondrian in the Netherlands, although both showed serious differences with Picasso”s style: according to Penrose, their pursuit of a pure geometry of forms led them away from the pictorial subject towards abstraction, something that was not part of Picasso”s instincts, for whom eliminating symbols and poetic allusions from painting was a form of castration; it also inspired the Futurists led by Marinetti in Italy and the Vorticists in England, who based their aesthetic theory on form and mechanical movement and rhythm, attempting to introduce time into pictorial representation. But Picasso did not seek the development of theories or schools; his need was to break with the past and give the work of art its own internal life.
In Manuel Hugué”s studio she made sculptures such as Cabeza de mujer (Fernande) (Picasso Museum in Barcelona, inspired by the canvases she painted in Horta. Fernande did not feel comfortable with the changes that were taking place in her environment and lifestyle, she longed for the spontaneity of their early days together.
Already in 1909 Picasso painted a series of portraits in which the rigor in his discipline of searching for a new conception of space led him to a progressive reduction in the use of color; in the Horta landscapes and in Woman Sewing (Claire B. Zeisler Collection, Chicago), painted during the winter of 1909 to 1910, the palette was restricted to ochers, grays and greens, until eliminating this color and entering into a monochrome that sometimes broke with subtle gradations of grays and ochers. In 1910, he painted, among others, the portraits of Ambroise Vollard (Pushkin Museum, Moscow), Wilhelm Uhde (Pulitzer Collection, St. Louis) and Daniel-Henry Kaufmann (St. Louis). Despite his progressive tendency to paint with the eye of thought rather than directly from nature, he worked in numerous sessions with the models, like Gertrude Stein before him; despite the progressive process of analytical segmentation of space and form, Picasso captured the physiognomy of the characters.
Picasso and Fernande spent the summer of 1910 in Cadaqués (they rented a house by the sea, and were joined by Derain and his wife. After the vacation, Picasso returned loaded with unfinished works in which an advance towards the new language of Cubism was evident; in the Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler that he painted after the vacation the character is treated as a three-dimensional structure that manifests itself in elements transposed in space in a transparent plot, seen from multiple angles and yet forming a coherent whole, as also happens in paintings such as Nude Woman Standing (Philadelphia Museum of Art).
The winter of 1910 to 1911 Picasso and Braque maintained such a close collaboration that it is difficult to venture the origin of the ideas that both set in motion, and by not signing the paintings there were times when it was difficult to distinguish their own work from that of the other; as they advanced in their analysis of the object, Picasso and Braque felt they lost the reference to their recognizable reality. The inclusion of elements of reality in their cubist compositions later led them to trompe l”œil, and from there to the invention of collage, thus breaking with the tradition of not using more than one medium for a work and calling into question the principles of painting itself.
Picasso traveled to Céret, a French village in the historic region of Roussillon, in July 1911. Fernande Olivier and Braque joined him in August, and the two painters continued their close collaboration in defining Cubism. They produced several paintings in which they introduced the masthead of the local newspaper into their works, with a recognizable Gothic typography, such as The Fan (”L”Indépendant”) (private collection, Ascona, Switzerland). On September 5 Picasso returned to Paris and at the 1911 Salon d”Automne he presented a cubist room, from which both he and Braque were absent. This fact shocked the press in New York, Madrid and Amsterdam, which covered the event, since it was known that they were the founders of the style; several articles and essays about Picasso and Braque were published all over Europe. The relationship with Fernande had deteriorated, and in the autumn of that year Picasso met Eva Gouel (Marcelle Humbert), until then the sentimental partner of the Polish painter Louis Markus, whom he called ma jolie (my beauty) in several of his paintings.
In early 1912 Picasso made the first constructed sculpture, Guitar (MoMA, New York), made of cardboard, string and wire. Picasso largely initiated a process that led to the liberation of sculpture from classical concepts such as volume and the replacement of modeling or carving processes with all kinds of constructive techniques that constituted a revolutionary transformation in sculpture. In a parallelism with the cubist collage technique, whose first exhibition is Still Life with Braided Chair (Musée Picasso, Paris), created in the spring of 1912, the forms were reduced to planes that could be freely articulated. The concepts of assemblage and construction made possible the introduction of new techniques and materials; the decomposition of volume brought new perspectives, the valuation of emptiness and light as sculptural elements of equal importance to mass.
Between 1912 and 1915, Picasso and Braque developed the second phase of Cubism, in which they returned to their work an equivalent to the traditional concepts they had broken or eliminated in the preceding phase; forms, objects and words became recognizable while the surface was reconstituted; they recovered the use of a more solid and brilliant chromatism, the planes were clearly outlined and demarcated, overlapping and appearing an involvement with textured surfaces and decorative prints.
Between April and May 1912 a cubist exhibition was held at the Dalmau Gallery in Barcelona without works by Picasso or Braque. The relationship with Fernande ended; Picasso wrote to Braque: “Fernande has left me for a futurist”. On May 18 he arrives in Céret with Eva, where he makes some drawings in which he applies 19th century wallpapers and pieces of diaries. When in June Picasso learns that Fernande plans to go to Céret for the summer with Pitxot and his wife, he writes to Kahnweiler to tell him not to expect anything from him, that he would be happy if he never saw her again, while reaffirming his love for Eva, indicating that he is going to write it in his paintings. It is likely that between June and September he worked on Desnudo femenino (”J”aime Eva”) (this is a lighter chromatic work, with touches of acid colors, in which the construction of the female figure derives from the collage technique he was applying in his drawings. Escaping from Fernande”s visit, on June 25 he moved to the Villa des Clochettes, in Sorgues-sur-L”ouvèze. The paintings of Céret impressed Braque, Picasso asked his opinion on Violin (”Jolie Eva”) (New Stuttgart State Gallery), in which he painted surfaces imitating additions of wood and written papers, or on The Amateur (Le torero) (Basel Art Museum). Braque settled in August in Sorgues, where they resumed their work and continued to outline their artistic concepts.
In September 1912 he visits Paris for a couple of weeks to organize his move to a new studio at 242 Boulevard Raspail, but returns to Sorgues, where he works on The Amateur (Le Torero) and The Poet (Basel Museum of Art). The hardening and flattening of forms characterizes Hermetic Cubism, which marks the beginning of the transition to Synthetic Cubism. Towards the end of September he returns to Paris with Eva to collect his belongings and move into the new studio, where they move in on October 1st. In mid-November he begins the first series of papiers collés, in response to Braque”s work in this medium, applying the techniques of assemblage and incorporation of materials in Guitar, Score, Glass (McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas): on a background of painted paper, Picasso pasted fragments of paper among which is a headline from Le Journal on which he preserved the words La bataille s”est engagé (the battle has begun).
In mid-December he returned to Céret, from where he traveled to Barcelona with Eva during the Christmas holidays. He returned to Paris on January 21, 1913, where he began work on Violin hanging on the wall (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bern), in which he implemented the use of adding sand in the paint and in a double imitation, simulates the collage effect by means of planes that recall the paper cut-outs (which in turn imitate a wooden texture) that Braque and Picasso used to use in their collages, At the same time he made a second series of papiers collés in which he uses contemporary newspapers from Paris (in several of them he used Le Figaro) or from Céret in which an increase of abstraction and more colorfulness can be observed.
At the end of February, the first Picasso retrospective was held in Germany, at the Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser in Munich; eight works by him and three by Braque were also included in the International Exhibition of Modern Art (the Armory Show) in New York, at the 69th Regiment Armory, which would later travel to Chicago and Boston, one of the most influential events in the history of American art that also included Marcel Duchamp”s famous Nude Descending a Staircase.
Picasso and Eva returned to Céret in March 1913, although he would travel several times to Barcelona. His father died in early May and Picasso attended his funeral. Eva”s health was not good either, and worsened in late spring. In June Picasso returned to Paris, and at the same time fell ill with angina or bronchitis (from which he recovered at the end of July), as did Eva, who apparently never fully recovered. In August they returned to Céret, where he completed Man with Guitar (MoMA, New York), which shows developed synthetic cubism: fragmented motifs of analytical cubism synthesized into large, flat shapes that are “signs” of objects. After a short stay, they returned on August 19 to Paris, where they began the move to a new studio at 5bis rue Schoelcher, on the boulevard Raspail, overlooking the Montparnasse cemetery. This was the beginning of the period known as poetic cubism.
Around the time of the Salon d”Automne, Picasso painted two major works of particular importance, the Card Player (MoMA, New York), which contains many elements of trompe l”oeil collage, and Woman in a Shirt Sitting in an Armchair (private collection, New York), which combines the color of analytical cubism and the schematic patterns of synthetic cubism. He continues to develop his assemblages; towards the end of the year the Russian Vladimir Tatlin, who knew his work from the Shchukin collection in Moscow, visited Paris to see Picasso and his studio, where he saw the latter”s constructions. On his return to Moscow, Tatlin made his first constructions.
In 1914 Picasso made a third series of papiers collés. On January 14 Kahnweiler published Max Jacob”s The Siege of Jerusalem, illustrated by Picasso. It was the beginning of surrealist cubism. He also worked on his constructions, including The Glass of Absinthe (MoMA, New York), of which his dealer Kahnweiler ordered six copies in bronze, painted in different ways, some highly colored, others with sand texture.
At the end of June Picasso and Eva settled in Avignon, near Derain, who was in Montfavet, and Braque in Sorgues. The Sarajevo bombing in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated triggered the outbreak of World War I. Apollinaire applied for French citizenship to enlist as a volunteer; Braque and Derain were mobilized; Picasso bade them farewell at the Avignon station on August 2, 1914. In autumn, still in Avignon, Cards, Glasses, Bottle of Rum (Vive la France) (Leigh B. Bloch Collection, Chicago) opened the period of Pointillist Cubism. He worked on series of drawings of men leaning on a balustrade, a table or a chair, in styles ranging from naturalism to cubism; the unfinished canvas The Artist and His Model (Musée Picasso, Paris), presumably Eva, shows a tendency to return to representational figuration that would later resurface.
Returning to Paris in mid-November, his somewhat ambivalent attitude towards the war and his relationship with his German patrons Kahnweiler and Thannhauser, coupled with the fact that most of the young men were at the front, caused Picasso to be viewed with suspicion. In winter he painted the oil painting Still Life: Guitar, Newspaper, Glass and Ace of Clover (Musée Picasso, Paris), which introduced the period called cold cubism, where the composition was worked in cold colors, with a predominance of blue.
In January 1915 he made the pencil drawing Portrait of Max Jacob (Musée Picasso, Paris), in a naturalistic style. Eva”s health continued to decline and she underwent an operation; in May, while she was in a sanatorium, Picasso had an affair with Gabrielle Depeyre, with whom he made a secret trip to Saint-Tropez that same year. In August he makes another drawing, Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), with a classical technique and an almost photographic resemblance. Such drawings were still contemporary with cubist paintings, such as Harlequin (MoMA, New York), an austere composition of large monochrome geometric areas on a black background, part of a long series on that theme, which can be understood as an allegory of loss, particularly the fatal illness of Eva, who was transferred to the Auteil hospital in November. Picasso had a very hard time, “my life is hell,” he wrote to Gertude Stein. Eva died on December 14, 1915.
During the war his work focused on cubist still lifes and naturalistic style portraits; cubism, pointillism, mannerism and neoclassicism coexisted in his work from 1917. At the end of the war, although he continued to work simultaneously in these disparate styles, Picasso gradually tended toward a neoclassical style, which showed itself fully developed in 1920 and sustained his interest until 1924.
The Ballets Russes
In 1916 he had relations with two women: Gabrielle Lespinasse, a Montparnasse showgirl with whom he had an affair without consequences, and Elvira Paladini, sensual and sybaritic, whose presence stimulated a certain premonition of Italy in Picasso”s work. In March, Apollinaire returned wounded from the front and Picasso made several drawings portraying him over the next three months, such as Portrait of Apollinaire (private collection), also in a realistic style. In June he began to move to 22 rue Victor-Hugo, in the Montrouge district. He made several portraits of Elvira Paladini and Apollinaire, in a realistic style, and several drawings of harlequins reminiscent of the pink period. In July, the first public exhibition of Les Demoiselles d”Avignon took place at the Salon d”Automne, organized by André Salmon. As was the case with cubism, the critics were quite harsh with a work that they could not understand.
After a couple of previous visits, Jean Cocteau, whom he had met in December of the previous year, invited him on May 1 to design the set for the Ballets Russes company, directed by Sergéi Diágilev, with a libretto by Cocteau himself and music by Erik Satie; during the visit he would create a realistic portrait of the writer. At the end of May Cocteau took Diágilev to visit him in his studio, where they discussed plans for the ballet, Parade. In August 1916 he finally agreed to work on the ballet Parade. Picasso introduced several changes to the work, ideas that Satie liked better than Cocteau. Finally in September they agreed, and in January 1917 he confirmed with Diágilev the agreement to make the sets and costumes for the ballet for the sum of 5000 francs, with an additional 1000 francs if he had to go to Rome. Between February and March he worked on the curtain for the ballet Parade (Musée National d”Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris).
On February 19 he arrived with Cocteau in Rome to join Diagilev and the Ballets Russes. He stayed eight weeks at the Grand Hôtel de Russie, on the corner of Via del Babuino and Piazza del Popolo, where he made many drawings of the Villa Medici from his window. He produced many sketches for the ballet”s costumes and decorations in a rented studio at 53b Via Margutta. When he was not working he socialized with Diagilev, the choreographer of the work Léonide Massine, the scenic designer Léon Bakst, Cocteau and Igor Stravinsky, of whom he made quick portraits and caricatures. He also met the Italian Futurist artists and visited the city”s famous sites with them, the Sistine Chapel, Raphael”s Stanze and the Vatican sculpture museums. His stay in Rome renewed his interest in the academic style of Ingres, whose influence would be reflected in his work in the following years. During this period he met the ballerina Olga Jojlova, a member of Diagilev”s company, whom he would eventually marry.
In March 1917, Diagilev took Picasso, Stravinsky, Cocteau and Massine on a trip to Naples, from where they visited the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii. In those days the avant-garde literary magazine Nord-Sud saw the light in Paris, which during its short existence stood out as a powerful forum for avant-garde discussion on cubism, and attempted to bring together the Parisian centers of traditional and avant-garde literature, Montmartre and Montparnasse. Among its collaborators were many of the writers who would shape surrealism: Apollinaire (who coined the term around that time), André Breton, Louis Aragon and Tristan Tzara, among others. In April, Cocteau returned to Paris and Picasso joined the Ballets Russes company on their trip through Italy to be near Olga, passing through Florence (where he visited the Medici Chapel, with the tombs by Michelangelo) and Venice.
After the tour of Italy, the company went to Paris at the end of April, where on May 18, 1917, the first performance of Parade took place at the Théâtre du Châtelet. The work”s conjunction of avant-garde styles in art, music and choreography, in a period marked by the war in Europe, turned it into the scandal Diágilev expected, being labeled “offensively anti-French.” Apollinaire noted in his essay for the ballet”s program that the synthesis of Picasso”s designs and Massine”s choreography reached for the first time a kind of “surrealism where I see the starting point of a series of manifestations of this New Spirit.” The news in the press were, on the other hand, terrible. Between May and June he made a realistic Self-Portrait (Picasso Museum, Paris) and The Eyes of the Artist (Picasso Museum, Malaga).
In love with Olga, Picasso accompanied the Ballets Russes to Madrid, where they performed during the month of June; influenced by Olga and his contact with the company, Picasso frequented Madrid”s high society. On June 23 they arrived in Barcelona, where the Ballets Russes performed Las Meninas at the Teatro del Liceo. At the end of the month the company left for South America, while Olga and Picasso, already engaged, stayed four months in Barcelona, where his Catalan artist friends Miguel Utrillo, Ángel Fernández de Soto, Ramón Reventós, Pallarés, Ricardo Canals, the Vidal brothers and Francisco Iturrino gave him a welcome banquet at the Galerías Layetanes in July. He painted the naturalistic Harlequin of Barcelona (Picasso Museum, Barcelona) and Olga Jojlova with Mantilla (Picasso Museum, Malaga); Woman in Spanish Dress (La Salchichona) (Picasso Museum, Barcelona), with a divisionist technique; in a cubist style, Woman Sitting on an Armchair (Personaje) (Picasso Museum, Barcelona) and Frutero (Picasso Museum, Barcelona). He also made numerous drawings of bullfights and portraits and drawings of Olga.
In November the Ballets Russes returned to Spain; they performed Parade in Barcelona, to a lukewarm reception; during the performance Picasso”s sister Lola and her husband introduced him to the then art student Joan Miró. At the end of November Olga and Picasso prepare to return to Paris.
1918 marks the beginning of what Max Jacob identified as the Duchess period, which ended around 1923. From January 23 to February 15, 1918, Picasso exhibited a series of proto-Cubist paintings with Matisse at Paul Guillaume”s gallery. In a climate still hostile to Cubism, the exhibition elicited numerous comments in the press; it is possible that Les Demoiselles d”Avignon was part of the exhibition. He completed a Portrait of Olga in an Armchair (Olga insisted that her portraits be recognizable.
Between April and May he moved with Olga to the Hotel Lutetia, a fashionable first-class hotel on Boulevard Raspail; his lifestyle changed, he frequented the Ballets Russes circle and moved among high society. On July 12 he married Olga, first in the required legal ceremony and then in a three-hour mass at the Russian Orthodox Church on Daru Street in Paris. Their families did not attend, and Picasso asked Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob and Apollinaire to act as witnesses. After the wedding, Olga refused to go to Montrouge, saying she would never return to that house “which smelled of too many women”. On July 30 they arrived in Biarritz for their honeymoon; they stayed at the Villa La Mimoseraie, owned by their Chilean friend Eugenia Errázuriz. There he developed marine themes, such as The Bathers (Picasso Museum, Paris), in a mannerist style reminiscent of his elongated figures inspired by the style of El Greco. His hostess introduced him to art dealers Georges Wildenstein and Paul Rosenberg; Rosenberg, on behalf of Wildenstein, made a contract with Picasso. He made some portraits in the neoclassical style of Ingres of his women and the wealthy society who came to visit.
At the end of September he returned with Olga to Montrouge. Paul Rosenberg became Picasso”s official dealer, who only accepted a verbal agreement with Picasso, which gave the dealer first choice to the artist”s work; Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler had been his dealer since 1907 until the German-French war broke out and he was forced to leave for Switzerland. On October 8, Picasso rented a large apartment on rue de La Boëtie. It is likely that at that time he met Louis Aragon, and through him and Apollinaire, André Breton. Shortly thereafter, on November 9, 1918, two days before the Rethondes armistice ending World War I was signed, Apollinaire died of Spanish flu in his apartment on the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Since then, Picasso visited his friend”s grave in the Père-Lachaise cemetery every year on that date.
During 1919 he continued to work on cubist and realist works simultaneously. He produced some realist works, in which a certain monumentality and sculptural weight in the figures can be appreciated, such as Still Life with Jug and Apples (Musée Picasso, Paris) in the robust and classical style of the last Ingres, a sculptural character and massive appearance in the figures that would be manifested in his neoclassical works of 1920.
The premiere of El sombrero de tres picos at the Alhambra Theatre on July 22, 1919 was a huge success that soon led to the opening of Spanish dance schools in London. Massine had learned the rhythms of flamenco and applied them to the choreography of the dancers, whose costumes were adapted to the action. Picasso had instinctively used curves and zig-zags, motifs characteristic of Spanish peasant carts, rhythms probably descended from Arabic calligraphic arabesques. The contrast of green, pink, red and black also evoked Spain. The critic Jean Bernier wrote: “the whole costume is, without exception, full of warmth and strength, tempered by a taste for dignity that is very Andalusian”.
Settled in his apartment on rue de la Boëtie, Picasso gradually distanced himself from the bohemian lifestyle he had lived in before the war; his personal life was quieter, although he could be seen dressed elegantly at cocktail parties or eating out with Olga, dressed in Chanel. His association with the Ballets Russes and the art dealers Léonce and Paul Rosenberg brought him more favorable critical attention and visibility.
On January 23, 1920, The Three-cornered Hat was performed at the Théâtre National de l”Opéra in Paris, to which he invited his friend Max Jacob, whom he saw less frequently. On the way to the theater Jacob was hit by a car and hospitalized; Picasso visited him frequently in the hospital, but they began to see less of each other thereafter, as Jacob sought a less boisterous and public social life.
This style of Pulcinella”s sets was extended to Picasso”s painting, as can be seen in Pulcinella with a guitar in front of a curtain (Massine saluting); the colors are vivid but not strident, and the painted surface became completely flat. During the summer at Juan-les-Pins he continued to develop this style and subject matter in a series of coloristic, geometric, flat gouaches on the Commedia dell”Arte, such as Pierrot and Harlequin (National Gallery of Art, Washington). In September, still at Juan-les-Pins, he produced a series of drawings and watercolors on a theme of Mediterranean antiquity, an episode of the attempted abduction of Deyanira, wife of Hercules, by the centaur Nessus, inspired by the Pompeian frescoes he saw on his trip to Naples in 1917.
On February 4, 1921 his first son, Pablo, was born. In the spring he began studies for Cuadro flamenco, another ballet by Diagilev, who this time hired a group of eight Andalusian dancers and singers for whom Falla arranged popular music. It had originally been commissioned from fellow Spaniard Juan Gris, but Picasso, arguing that Gris was ill and would not have time to develop the project on such short notice, beat him to it by presenting the idea he abandoned in Pulcinella of a curtain with rococo ornaments and prosceniums with couples watching the show, as can be seen in Proyecto de decorado para Cuadro flamenco (Musée Picasso, Paris). The relationship with Gris cooled as a result, a situation that continued until his death in 1927. On May 22 the work was premiered at the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Lyrique. The program cover was illustrated with four nudes on the beach in a neoclassical style similar to other works of the same time. On his return to Paris, he continued with works in the monumental neoclassical style.
During the summer, avoiding the heat of southern France, he moved with Olga and Pablo to Fontainebleau. The summer at Fontainebleau was prolific, with a majority of works in the neoclassical sculptural style. The main subjects are mother and child and women at a fountain; it can be seen in Mother and Child at the Seashore (Art Institute of Chicago), and Three Women at the Fountain (Musée de l”Orangerie, Paris), with Greco-Roman dress and hairstyles. He also created two masterpieces in the synthetic cubist style: Musicians with Masks (MoMA, New York) and Musicians with Masks (Three Musicians) (Philadelphia Museum of Art); the subject matter recalls his collaboration with the Ballets Russes, particularly some of the studies for harlequins and pierrots from Pulcinella.
In 1922 Breton, Jacques Doucet”s advisor on art matters, began to convince him of the importance of incorporating major works by Picasso into his collection of modern art, which would lead in 1924 to the acquisition of Les Demoiselles d”Avignon. In June, during a visit to Dinard (Brittany), he painted Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race) (Musée Picasso, Paris). an idealization of the monumental figures he painted in 1921 with a new element, the treatment of movement, which later served as a model for the backdrop of Diágilev”s Le Train Bleu in 1924. He also made some sketches of his son and of his wife and son together, as can be seen in Family by the Sea (Musée Picasso, Paris). On December 20, 1922, Jean Cocteau”s modernized adaptation of Sophocles” Antigone premiered at the Théâtre de l”Atelier in Montmartre (Paris). The play had sets by Picasso, costumes by Coco Chanel and music by Arthur Honegger.
In 1923 Picasso continued with the harlequin theme; he painted several portraits of Jacint Salvadó disguised as a harlequin in a less monumental and more lyrical style, as well as portraits of his son Pablo and his wife Olga; and the Portrait of Dona Maria (the artist”s mother) (private collection). He also painted portraits of his son Pablo and his wife Olga; and the Portrait of Doña Maria (the artist”s mother) (private collection). That summer he returned again to the Riviera, settling in Antibes with Olga and Pablo. He made The Pan”s Flute (Musée Picasso, Paris), as well as several drawings and sketches on the same subject. In Antibes he visited many of the society vacationers, such as the painter Gerald Murphy and his wife Sarah (Beaumont asked him to design the set and costumes for Mercure, which was to premiere in the summer of 1924.
Two days later, Le train bleu, the last collaboration with the Ballets Russes of Sergéi Diágilev, was premiered at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées. The curtain was painted by the stage painter Alexander Shervashidze, based on Picasso”s gouache Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race). Picasso himself signed the curtain “Dedicated to Diágilev Picasso 24”.
The controversy surrounding the Soirées de Paris grew during the summer and provoked a schism among the ex-Dadaists, pitting Breton”s group against another that revolved around Ivan Goll. In October Breton published the Surrealist Manifesto, in which he outlined the artistic consequences of the theory of psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud”s interpretation of dreams. The term surrealism, coined by Apollinaire in 1917, was adopted by Breton as the name of his group. Although Picasso never officially joined the surrealist movement, his work was much admired by Breton, as it was by Tristan Tzara and the Dadaists. Picasso”s work is reproduced in eight of the eleven issues of La Révolution Surréaliste, published between 1924 and 1929.
Since his marriage to Olga and the birth of their first son, Pablo, Picasso enjoyed a happy family life; he led a very active social life, alternating with the Parisian aristocracy and intelligentsia; avant-garde critics praised his artistic achievements, although they focused on the formal aspects, ignoring the intuitive and psychological elements of his work. Accepted by society and critics, Picasso was considered a part of the French tradition that stood out above the antics of the new generation of anti-bourgeois Dadaists, who were beginning to be supplanted by the group that would become known as the Surrealists.
In 1925 he painted, for his son”s fourth birthday, Pablo de pierrot (The Artist”s Son) (Musée Picasso, Paris), in a naturalistic style similar to the harlequin portrait he had painted the previous year, and The Dance (Tate Modern, London). He also painted The Dance (Tate Modern, London). This is a crucial moment in Picasso”s development, following a period in which he worked in both a decorative form of synthetic cubism and a neoclassical figurative style. The dance is indebted to both styles, but its importance lies in the fact that it marks a break with a serene, classical phase and the beginning of a new period of emotional violence and expressionistic distortion.
Dance constituted the beginning of Picasso”s surrealist period, between 1925 and 1938. Antithesis of his classical drawings of dance, the expressionistic character of the painting symbolized Picasso”s growing irritation towards Olga and women in general; hurt by the death of his friend Ramon Pichot, he believed that his wife Germaine, who had been the cause of Casagemas” death, destroyed his friend as Olga was destroying him. To the grief of Pichot”s death was added that of the musician Erik Satie in July. In the summer he painted, in Juan-les-Pins, The Kiss (Musée Picasso, Paris), of an even more aggressive spirit than The Dance. The motif of the superimposed heads, which appears in the figure of the woman and not in the sculpture, would find continuity in his later work. The irrational qualities of this series of works, as well as those of the first cubist works, were what Breton found analogous to the theory of automatism practiced by the surrealist artists.
In the essay “Surrealism and Painting”, published in July 1925 in issue 4 of La Révolution Surréaliste, Breton declared Picasso as a model painter and claimed him as a surrealist, while pointing out the impossibility of applying a label that would constrain his work: “The label “cubist” has very much made that mistake”. November saw the “Exposition: La Peinture Surréaliste,” at the Galerie Pierre in Paris, which featured two of Picasso”s early Cubist paintings, as well as works by Hans Arp, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, André Masson, Joan Miró, Man Ray and Pierre Roy; Breton and Robert Desnos wrote the preface to the catalog. Maurice Raynal”s review of the exhibition in L”intransigeant said, “The “father of Cubism” has become the surrealists” adopted son!”. In November Picasso accompanied his mother, who had spent the vacations with them on the coast, to Barcelona. There he met Dalí, and visited his first solo exhibition at the Dalmau Gallery.
In 1926 he worked in a style that has been identified as curvilinear cubism, combining the sinuous surfaces of decorative cubism, the superimposition of heads on figures and the curved deformations explored in the drawings of constellations, applied to a cubist grid. It can be seen in The Dressmakers (The Dressmaker”s Workshop) (Musée National d”Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris) and The Painter and his Model (Musée Picasso, Paris), monochrome works painted in gray, black, white and cinnamon ochre. He also painted several portraits with a certain resemblance to Marie-Thérèse Walter, a young teenager who, according to some authors, he presumably met for the first time in early 1925 at the Gare de Paris Saint-Lazare. He also continued to work on the motif of superimposed heads.
In April he was visited in his studio by Dalí; despite their mutual admiration, the two artists did not become close friends. His recommendation to Diagilev to work with Miró and Max Ernst on the sets and costumes for his Romeo and Juliet led to their being threatened with expulsion from the surrealist group, which was against collaboration with “a bourgeois production for high society”.
In March 1928 he resumed his friendship with the sculptor Julio González, whose studio on rue de Médéah he visited frequently to continue learning welding techniques. In June he made his first three-dimensional sculpture since 1914, the bronze Metamorphosis I (Bather) (Musée Picasso, Paris), based on drawings by Marie-Thérèse completed in 1927.
In the spring of 1929 he made the welded and painted iron sculpture Woman in the Garden (Musée Picasso, Paris), in Gonzalez”s workshop. He also began the first studies for The Crucifixion (Musée Picasso, Paris), which he completed in 1930. The tension of his marriage to Olga was reflected in works such as Bust of a Woman and Self-Portrait (private collection), in which a savage female head with open jaws imposes itself on a classical profile of himself. Also in Large Nude in a Red Armchair (Musée Picasso, Paris), where the female figure contorts into a scream revealing disturbing elements in the artist”s subconscious. The surreal nature of this painting is also seen in many other works.
In January 1930 he painted Bather Seated by the Sea (MoMA, New York), a woman conceived as a bony structure, a menacing creature in contrast to the serene atmosphere of the beach, whose head resembles that of a mantis, one of the Surrealists” favorite symbols (the mantis devours its partner during sex). Several of Picasso”s earlier and later works have the same type of head, and some also have what is known as a vagina dentata, evoking the “fear of psychosexual castration” that the Surrealists symbolized through the praying mantis.
In April, the London gallery Alex Reid & Lefevre organized a retrospective with thirty-seven paintings, Thirty Years of Pablo Picasso. In May he finally took possession of the Château de Boisgeloup, where he continued to work metal with Gonzalez, incorporating real objects into his sculptural work. His 1930 sculptures, assemblages of cut and welded metal elements, such as Woman in the Garden (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid), can be understood as “poetic objects, sometimes with a surrealist flavor. He also returned to modeling in clay or plaster. He made several busts and reliefs portraying Marie-Thérèse, such as Bust of a Woman (Marie-Thérèse) (Musée Picasso, Paris). The rounded forms and reliefs have a certain sexual quality and the facial features sometimes resemble genital organs (the nose as a phallus, the mouth as a vagina), reminiscent of Neolithic and African sculpture. During summer vacations at Juan-les-Pins, he completed a series of drawings and etchings, lyrical and erotic, which formed the basis for the etchings in the section entitled “The Sculptor”s Studio” of the Vollard Suite. He also painted several small-format oil paintings of the Villa Chêne-Roc, where he was staying. In autumn he returned to his sculptural work.
In December 1931 he painted The Sculptor (Musée Picasso, Paris) on the theme of the artist and the model, revealing the nature of the relationship between Picasso and Marie-Thérèse; the sculptor contemplates the bust he has created, with the characteristic classical profile, while the model sits in the background, subordinate to the artist and the created work. He also began a series of portraits of Marie-Thérèse on a sofa, where her young lover emerges from the margins to occupy a central position, of “imperturbable grandeur and security”. He also painted Woman with a Stiletto (Death of Marat), which after the historical source reflects the growing resentment towards Olga”s jealousy and possessiveness.
While Olga and Pablo summered at Juan-les-Pins, Picasso summered at Boisgeloup with Marie-Thérèse, where he continued to work on sleeping nudes, beach scenes and some small sculptures. He also made several drawings from Grünewald”s Crucifixion series. On his return to Paris in autumn he continued with the portraits of Marie-Thérèse on a sofa and the drawings on Grünewald”s Crucifixion. In October, Christian Zervos began the publication of a catalog raisonné (between 1932 and 1974, twenty-eight volumes appeared, comprising more than 16,000 works.
He made the water drawings and others on the theme of the Minotaur. That same year, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, he was appointed director of the Prado Museum in Madrid. In early August, Picasso left for Mougins and met with Dora Maar.
Between 1942 and 1943 he made the assemblage, Cabeza de toro (Paris, Musée Picasso), La Aubade (Paris, Musee National d”Art Moderne), L”Homme au mouton (Paris, Musée Picasso) and he met Françoise Gilot in May 1943.