Picasso's Blue Period  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Blue Period 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. 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", 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".

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. 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.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Picasso's Blue Period" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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