If one asked me about the best thing about Barcelona that I liked, I would easily skip those beaches, pubs, and monuments to say it was my visit to Picasso’s collection at the museum. A true art lover that I am and when it comes to paintings, I cannot just have enough of it. Having read so much about his work and then seeing those colourful canvas right in front of you was mind-blowing… there is something about watching it up close.
I could devote an entire week’s worth of posts talking about him, his work, his fame, his womanising and his long life. Picasso is the most recognised and the most influential painter of the 20th century. Almost all of us are aware of that for sure.
But let’s talk about these paintings there! Picasso was born in Spain but spent most of his life in France. He was a painter, printmaker, sculptor, ceramicist, and stage designer. He lived to the age of 91 and spent 80 of those years devoted to creating art. He is known for his ‘blue period’ and ‘rose period’ by many. He was the co-founder of Cubism with his artist and friend Georges Braque.
The paintings that you see here especially the ‘The First Communion’ was done by him when he was just 15 years old in 1896. Pablo attended La Lona School of Art. Picasso was never known to be religious or a churchgoer in the true sense. His many paintings and drawings as a student were about Jesus and many other saints. Picasso, when quizzed later in life, was asked if he regretted any of these works. He answered: “No way, back then it was very important for me.”
Picasso’s 1907 “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (The Young Ladies of Avignon) is considered one of his most revolutionary paintings which is about a depiction of five prostitutes, an abstract portrait. Originally titled ‘The Brothel of Avignon’, the painting led the way to Cubism. His use of Primitivism and other artwork related to that was considered a radical change from traditional European paintings.
Although this painting is most likely the single most analysed piece of art in the 20th century, his friends believed the piece to be too controversial to display. So it was not exhibited until 1916.
Obviously, Pablo Picasso was considered a child prodigy. The first word he ever spoke as a child was ‘piz piz’ short for ‘lapis’ which means ‘pencil’ in Spanish. At the tender age of 13, he entered the School of Fine Arts. While the rest of the applicants took a month, it took him just one week to complete his entrance exams.
His father was quite appalled at his early admission and, as a painter himself, decided to give up on his art. He felt that his young son had already surpassed and beaten him on the same and so he thought it’s wise to let him progress ahead.
Picasso had four children out of his two marriages and a mistress. He was very short by stature (read 5’4 inches) considering European standards and his only requirement for all the women he had was that they should be shorter to him and be submissive by nature.
Out of all the women he loved and had flings with, two of them went insane and another two killed themselves. Picasso once quipped: “There are only two types of women: goddesses and doormats.” I don’t know how controversial that statement would have him into. He had far too many muses in his life and they all inspired him to get more creative with his paintings.
As I researched on him, I was quite surprised to read that he was accused of stealing the most famous painting of all time ‘The Mona Lisa’ which is in the French Museum ‘The Louvre’. He was blamed by a close friend for this crime. Both were taken into custody for investigation. However, he was released later after interrogation.
He was also quite eccentric to carry a gun with him always and used to fire at people who he thought was a big ‘bore’. Thankfully the gun was loaded with ‘blanks’. He used to especially shoot at people who were critical and insulted the artist ‘Cezanne’ (one who invented Cubism), who was an inspiration to him.
Picasso’s entire life’s work was over 13,500 paintings along with many other sculptures, prints and illustrations which totalled around 1,50,000 works.
He was quite a fashionista for his era too, other than his paintings. His Breton striped t-shirt was designed by Coco Chanel and he loved sporting the classiest clothes. Picasso also expressed his genius through poetry and wrote hundreds of poems starting in 1935 at the age of 53. Like his art, his poetry too stood apart and was unique as it was largely untitled, and lacked punctuation. They were also largely sexual and scatological by nature. Imagine, a line of one of his poems said: “the smell of bread crusts marinating in urine.”
In 1900, he got into financial problems and had to burn his paintings to get warmth. But he then progressed in life to a stage that he used to pay his bills with a simple signature having only one word.
Many of his Paintings was stolen more than any other artists in the world. He passed away at the age of 91 on 8th April 1973 in France. He is buried in the South of France in a castle.
His works continue to interest and intrigue the world after all these years. If you are an art lover and get an opportunity to catch his works at any of the museums in the world, please go ahead and not miss it at all.
The lines are long here at the Barcelona Museum to get a ticket and to get in but worth the wait. You can book online in advance too if you sure you will reach the place in the hour allotted. A ticket is around 12 Euros and there are certain days when entry is free which is on Thursday afternoon from 6 pm to 9:30 pm. The first Sunday of every month is also free from 9 am to 7 pm. The museum has audio guides at around 6 Euro extra which is very informative and I recommend you avail that.
His final words were: “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore…” Cheers to that and to all his works he gifted to the world!