Picasso & The Blue Period, The Hows + Whys

Picasso & The Blue Period, The Hows + Whys
Pablo Picasso is famously known for his Blue Period in art. What does that mean and why? I'll discuss some of the theories behind these works by the Spaniard.

Musically speaking, a 'blue note' is the minor interval injected in a melody or harmony where a major note would ordinarily be expected - evoking sadness.

The composer Frederic Chopin found the 'blue note' when he traveled by boat to the Spanish island of Majorca with the writer George Sand. The sound of the waves splashing against the boat would become his inspiration.

Chopin composed two nocturnes in Majorca, being published in 1840.

Perhaps Picasso visited the Café de la Nouvelle Athenes in Paris where Chopin’s music may have been played. Impressionists such as Manet and Degas frequented the café. Degas painted two figures 'dining' there in "L’Absinthe" (1876).

The café was eventually destroyed in 2004.

Was Picasso inspired by Chopin's melancholic music, or was it because of his own personal circumstances while in his 20s?

His friend Casagenos was jilted by a girlfriend, at first wanting to kill her, and then committed suicide.
At this time, Picasso experienced extreme poverty - feeling helpless and having a pessimistic outlook on life.

The paintings during this time were of: prostitutes, beggars, the disabled, and circus performers.

Picasso’s "Blue Period" was indeed his first breakthrough as an influential artist, followed by the "Rose Period" and still later, "Cubism".

Some of his best known paintings of the Blue Period (1901-1904) are "The Old Guitarist" (1903) and "Woman Ironing" (1904).

Interesting, from a scientific standpoint, as well as historically, these paintings were 'painted over' underlying sketches. The exact reasons are unknown.

The painting, "Boy with a Pipe" or "Garcon a la Pipe" (1905) is from Picasso’s Blue Period and sold for $104 m in 2004, breaking the record for a painting sold at auction.

Writer and art collector Gertrude Stein lived in Paris and held soirées with writers and artists of the day - including Picasso who painted her portrait in 1905 - considered the end of the Blue Period and the beginning of the Rose Period.

While Gertrude Stein’s portrait contains neither blue nor rose tones, it is instead a precursor of his Cubism movement (1908-1912).

You can own an art print poster of Pablo Picasso's "Old Guitarist" (24"X36"), available here from Amazon.com.

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