Picasso. Blue and rose


Acrobat with a ball
© Image The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow © Succession Picasso 2018

During the next three months you will have the opportunity to see Picasso at the Musée d’Orsay.  And yes, it is a must.  The show focuses on 6 early years of Picasso’s long and productive life. It starts in 1900 when the 18 year old Spanish artist arrives in Paris to immerse himself in one of the most fascinating and international cultural centres of the Western world.  The show ends in 1906 just before starting his cubist period. Coming from a large country at the edge of Europe, traditional and with a impressive history, going in the force of his life to Paris fin de siècle, with all the talent and ambition that was his.  This show succeeds in showing us the result of a multitude of influences of people and styles and whipped up by peaks and dips, moments of success, poverty and strong emotions. Of course in the Musée d’Orsay you couldn’t be in a better place to go out and seek the artists that influenced Picasso like Manet, Van Gogh and Degas after the exhibition!

He’s young but already an accomplished artist.  The years to come will be labelled as the blue and then pink period, but you will see much more than fully blue or pink paintings.  Around 300 works of art are on display and Orsay managed to get almost all of those that were on her wish list, so the show’s quality is consistent high.  It is a festival for eye, enjoying seeing the famous works in the flesh next to beautiful strangers.  The paintings are appropriately surrounded by drawings, prints, sculptures. Just a perfect way to learn yet a little bit more of this versatile and energetic artist.

Comparative displays (same subject in 3 stylistically different paintings 3 years in a row or the juxtaposition of paintings versus sculptures/drawings/various print media) allow you to contemplate this very nicely.  The exhibitions reminds us that before his famous cubist period a very productive period took place.  For such a prolific artist, it is interesting to see an exhibition that is limited in time but not in scope.

For those who were so far most intrigued by his cubist period, you will find a refreshing calm intensity of colours and the intriguing portraits especially of the blue period, when the human shape is still a person you can relate too: melancholic, pensive, defiant.
Clearly the end of the Belle Epoque and pre WWI was not the same experience for this feisty Spaniard than for the rich gentleman farmer that Monet became.

Two recommendations:

Have a look at what he painted before this period and remind yourself that he was a prodigy fine arts student.  Also, he was used to paint in different styles. Already before coming to Paris he had been painting in a very classical style to please his father while developing a modern style simultaneously.
Secondly, the quickest way into very popular Paris exhibitions like this one, is to go with a guided visit (offered by the museum in French) and buy your ticket for it on the Internet.  This to avoid the queue inside the museum to get into the exhibition itself.


Flavia Claes