Picasso

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Picasso
The Early Years
1892–1906
n ational gallery of art was h i n g to n
March 30 – July 27, 1997 Bell Atlantic is proud to sponsor this great exhibition

Pablo Picasso’s impact on the history of modern art has been profound. His early development was complex and innovative, constituting a subject of surprising depth. This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of Picasso’s art beforecubism, from the academic and realist work of his youth to his emergence as a brilliant stylist in late 1906.
Early Youth Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, in the Spanish coastal town of Málaga, where his father, José Ruiz Blasco, was an art instructor at a provincial school. Picasso began to draw under his father’s tutelage and studied in various art schools between 1892 and 1897,including academies in Barcelona and Madrid. Working from live models as well as plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculpture (no. 2), the young artist displayed a precocious command of academic draftsmanship that would be evident throughout his career, later serving as the vehicle for some of his most original work. In addition to academic classicism, Picasso’s stu dent work manifested a lessidealized manner of representation in genre subjects and portraiture. The artist executed many family portraits at this time and depictions of local figures such as an old sailor named Salmerón (no. 7), who was hired as a model by Picasso’s wealthy uncle in Málaga. In Madrid Picasso’s art was also shaped by visits to the Prado,
no. 2. Study of a Torso,After a Plaster Cast, 1893/1894, Musée Picasso, Paris no. 7. The Old Fisherman (Salmerón), 1895, Museu de Montserrat, Barcelona

where he studied works by Spanish old masters Velázquez and Ribera as well as by El Greco (the latter’s stylized mannerisms would soon play an important role in Picasso’s work). During this period Picasso produced several large-scale pictures on religious and allegorical themes, which appeared in official exhibitions. Atthe same time, he displayed an irreverent playfulness in works such as the SelfPortrait in a Wig (no. 12), in which the artist masquerades as an eighteenth-century Spanish noble. Modernism in Barcelona and Paris In Barcelona in 1899 Picasso rejected academic study and changed artistic direction by joining the circle of young avant-garde artists and writers who gathered at a local tavern, Els QuatreGats. Known as modernistes or decadentes, this community assimilated contemporary international trends such as symbolism, which emphasized the evocation of atmosphere and mood over literal description. In illustration, poster design, and other graphic arts, they turned to French art nouveau, which was distinguished by sinuous contour lines, simplified shapes, and artificial colors. Influencesincluded Théophile Steinlen and Toulouse-Lautrec, whose impact can be seen in Picasso’s work. Adapting this style, the artist produced numerous portraits of friends and acquaintances from Els Quatre Gats, among them Carles Casagemas and Jaime Sabartès (no. 29). Picasso included many of these in his first solo exhibition, which opened at the tavern in

no. 29. Sabartès Seated, 1900, Museu Picasso,Barcelona

February 1900. In their art and writing young modernistes also devoted themselves to political anarchy and related social causes, including sympathy for the plight of the urban poor. Indeed, subjects from the streets of both Barcelona and Paris would soon occupy Picasso’s work. Picasso traveled to Paris several times beginning in 1900 before settling there permanently in 1904. Many aspiringavant-garde artists at the turn of the century moved to the French capital, where the work of post-impressionist painters Van Gogh, Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin, and their disciples could be seen at the galleries and Salons. With vigorous comprehension, Picasso rapidly assimilated many of these influences. Between 1900 and 1901 his work reflects a variety of new styles and techniques, such

no. 40....
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