Artist research: Picasso’s “Blue Period”

Updated on 22 March 2017 (Harvard referencing and some content).

4 October/16 November 2016. This is how much time I have at the moment. Nearly one and a half months before I get an opportunity to have a look at Picasso. His “Blue Period”  occurred when Picasso was no more than 20 years old, and was the initial spark to his great career. It lasted a mere four years, from 1900 to 1904. It is said to be a mirror of an unhappy, unsuccessful time in his life . The main influence exerted on him before the start of the period was one the one hand the suicide a close friend and on the other the Fauvist painters, especially Henri Matisse (Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography, n.d.(a)). The paintings sold with little success then, but are all the more popular now.
Some examples from this period, first “A Blue Room” ( Fig. 1):

picassos_blue_room_1901
Figure 1. Pablo Picasso: “A Blue Room”, 1901, oil on canvas. Source: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) [Fair use] via Wikiart
Next “The Roofs of Barcelona” (Fig. 2):

the-roofs-of-barcelona-1903
Figure 2. Pablo Picasso: “The Roofs of Barcelona”, 1903, oil on canvas. Source: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) [Fair use] via Wikiart
And finally, “La Soupe” from 1902/03 (Fig. 3):

pablo_picasso_la_soupe
Figure 3. Pablo Picasso: “La Soupe”, 1902/03, oil on canvas. Source: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) [Fair use] via Wikiart
Although vastly researched and proved (Chalif, 2007), I find it difficult to interpret all of Picasso’s blue paintings as a direct consequence of depression – unless seen together with a depressing subject. So the “Roofs of Barcelona” suggest the early hours of a beautiful spring morning, just before sunrise, and nothing more. The same thought occurs to me when seeing the “The Blue Room”. Only “La Soupe” above, or other blue paintings such as “Mother and Child” (Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography (n.d.(b)) suggest a truly depressive mood. I suspect therefore that it is very likely that colour exerts highly differentiated effects on every single viewer depending on the physics of eyesight, the viewer’s experiences and mood, as well as the circumstances defining the surroundings when viewing a painting.

References:

Chalif, D.J. (2007) “The Death of Casagemas: early Picasso, the Blue Period, mortality, and redemption.” [abstract] [online]. Neurosurgery, no. 61(2), pp. 404-417. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17762753 [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography (n.d.(a)) Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period [online]. Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography. Available at: http://www.pablopicasso.org/blue-period.jsp [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography (n.d.(b)) Mother and Child, 1902 by Pablo Picasso [online]. Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography. Available at: http://www.pablopicasso.org/mother-and-child-1902.jsp [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Picasso, P. (1901) A Blue Room [oil on canvas] [online]. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. Available at: https://www.wikiart.org/en/pablo-picasso/a-blue-room-a-tub-1901 %5BAccessed 16 November 2016]

Picasso, P. (1902-03) La Soupe [oil on canvas] [online]. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Available at: https://www.wikiart.org/en/pablo-picasso/the-soup-1903 [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Picasso, P. (1903) The Roofs of Barcelona [oil on canvas] [online]. Museu Picasso of Barcelona. Available at: https://www.wikiart.org/en/pablo-picasso/the-roofs-of-barcelona-1903 [Accessed 16 November 2016]

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