Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Becoming Picasso Paris 1901


To the Courtauld, once again to see Becoming Picasso Paris 1901. A small but very interesting show focusing on the year and exhibition in which Picasso broke through to become a force in the Parisian art scene at just 19 years of age. All of the paintings on display are from that year, and it is interesting to see the many stylistic changes that his art took in just that one single year. From the highly coloured pieces created with loose brushstrokes, which pay homage to his contemporaries of the time, (Lautrec, Degas, and Van Gogh), to the heavily outlined pieces with muted colours that mark the beginning of his Blue Period, brought on by the death of his poet friend Casagemas.


This was also the year that he started to sign his work with the recognisable Picasso signature. Some of the paintings are weak, as he was so prolific that he completed no less than 64 paintings, (sometimes as many as three in one day!), in preparation for the exhibition at the studio of Ambroise Vollard. Others though are now recognised as early masterpieces, where he began to develop his his own vision and a career of constant stylistic experimentation.


Although the exhibition at Vollard's was both a critical and commercial success, the stylistic shift to a blue palette and more profound, sombre subject matter was not what collectors wanted, so at the end of 1901 he was forced to return to his parents house in Barcelona virtually penniless.


This exhibition offers a great chance to get up close to some of his famous early paintings that are usually hidden in private collections, or exhibited in museums overseas. Really enjoyable exhibition, my favourites were the two powerful self-portraits, and the pensive harlequin paintings. Hope to return before it closes in May.


Becoming Picasso Paris 1901, The Courtauld Gallery,Somerset House, Strand, London