A selection of Pablo Picassos pieces of the rose and blue period. Femme en chemise (Madeleine), 1904-1905 © Succession Picasso / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich, Photo: Tate, London 2018 | Acrobate et jeune arlequin, 1905 © Succession Picasso / ProLitteris, Zurich 2018 | Famille de Saltimbanques aver un singe, 1905 © Succession Picasso /2018, ProLitteris, Zurich
It’s easy to think of Pablo Picasso as almighty: a painter who changed the course of art history, who unabashedly made art in his boxers, and who responded to questions from critics by firing a gun into the air. But the young Picasso wasn’t always so confident or successful. In fact, his early years were fraught with poverty, tragedy, and emotional frailty—and it was these struggles that he channelled into his first pioneering body of work, known as the Blue Period. One of the first paintings he produced, The Death of Casagemas (1901), responded directly to a suicide of a close friend. But from one artistic revolution followed another, in a rapid succession of changing styles and visual worlds. Indeed, only a few years after finishing The Death of Casagemas, Picasso moved to Paris and emerged from his Blue Period—into a palette of soft, joyful pinks. “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions,” Picasso later explained. He also met Fernande Olivier that year, a French artist and model who was to become both his muse and mistress. Different facets from this new environment were brought to light on his canvases; friends from the Parisian literary scene, along his fascination with the fairground and circus performers. Many of his works from these years led up to his use of Cubism. As diverse as they seem, the two periods are connected by significants strands of thought, conveyed in this most comprehensive presentation of Picasso’s paintings and sculptures from 1901 to 1906.