THE YOUNG PICASSO – Blue and Rose Periods

Fondation Beyeler

  • 03.02.2019. - 26.05.2019

Pablo Picasso’s pioneering works of the Blue and Rose Periods, which characterise his oeuvre from 1901 to 1906, stand at the beginning of twentieth-century art and at the same time constitute one of its outstanding achievements. Picasso’s pictures from these years include some of the subtlest examples of modern painting, and are now counted among the most valuable and sought-after art treasures of all.

The exhibition The Young PICASSO – Blue and Rose Periods traces the extraordinary development in Picasso’s art that took place within a mere six years. Between 1901 and 1907, the aspiring young artist develops his unique personal style and becomes ‘Picasso’. The exhibition begins with the exuberantly colourful works from the early months of 1901, created in Madrid and then during Picasso’s second stay in Paris. In the autumn of 1901, as a memorial gesture after the tragic suicide of his friend Carles Casagemas, Picasso begins to limit his palette to shades of blue, announcing the start of the so-called Blue Period.

In the emotionally charged pictures of this phase, which he spends in Paris and Barcelona, the artist gazes into the depths of human misery and engages with major existential themes. His final relocation to Paris in 1904 signals the start of a new stage in his life. It is at this point that he meets his first great love. At the same time his colour preference shifts, towards reddish pinks and ochres. The fascinating world of the circus becomes a main source of his motifs. In 1906, Picasso stays for several weeks in the mountain village of Gósol, in Catalonia, where he paints in a way that speaks of his quest for a new authenticity. Back in Paris, he continues to elaborate this Primitivist style.

His experiments culminate in the formulation of a new pictorial language, announcing the advent of Cubism. Thus the unique works of the Blue and Rose Periods illustrate Picasso’s continual striving for innovative artistic solutions, which open up entirely new paths for the art of the twentieth century. At the age of just twenty-six, Picasso becomes the outstanding revolutionary of modern art.

The exhibition has been organised by the Fondation Beyeler, in collaboration with the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris, and the Musée national Picasso-Paris. The exhibition has been curated by Dr. Raphaël Bouvier.

(press text)