Oh Paris, you tender friend “The strongest walls open at my passing”. In 1900, when he arrived in Paris, Picasso was 19 years old. He plunged into a vibrant art scene discovering the works of David and Delacroix as well as Courbet, Ingres, Daumier, Manet and the Impressionists. It is before that background that he starts experimenting with a new language. By 1901 the unknown foreigner who barely spoke a word French received his first show at Ambroise Vollard’s renowned gallery. The exhibition was an important success leading to critical accolades praising “a wonderful understanding of colour which reveals itself in unique tones of a dazzling boldness”. After that exhibition however Picasso’s art takes a new more introspective direction, marked by the tragic death of his close friend Carles Casagemas. Scenes in cafés, their glum and hollow looking habitués are tainted in blue, the dominant colour of sadness and pain of that period.
The hues may also have been influenced by Picasso’s habit of painting at night, in the light of paraffin lamps. It is a treatment of colour and light that evokes that of sculptures. The paintings and drawings offer such a variety of blues, simultaneously conjuring shades of sensuality and suffering, affection and destitution.
Pablo Picasso, Les Deux Amies, 1904, private collection
Ne pouvoir se passer de Paris, marque de bêtise; ne plus l’aimer, signe de décadence. #GustaveFlaubert #BouvardetPecuchet
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