The Picasso Museum Barcelona is closed* but we would like to invite you to take a virtual stroll around our permanent collection.
We have asked the head of security, one of the few people who is currently able to gain access to the museum, to film some of the rooms so that they can be displayed to you, now that the Museum is closed.
The stroll will take you around the main works of the museum. An intimate, and at the same time informal and spontaneous look at the collection, by sharing with you the pleasure of meeting up once again with the artist's legacy in the city of Barcelona.
In Barcelona, Pablo continued his education at La Llotja Fine Art School. A set of drawings and oils paintings show his academic activity, dominated by life drawings and the copy of models for sculptures and paintings. In parallel, he focused his attention on a series of urbans aspects linked to his immediate surroundings, which helped him practise painting outdoors and escape the stifling atmosphere of La Llotja.
From 1896 onwards he concentrated more and more on portrait and landscape painting as he strove to capture the essence of the human figure. He also worked on religious and historical genres, which featured prominently in the school’s curriculum. He presented his first important oil painting, First Communion, at the 3rd Exhibition of Fine Arts and Artístic Industries in Barcelona in competition against established artists.
Picasso spent the summer in Màlaga, where he put together an exhaustive report on the city's surroundings made up of a series of fresh, richly descriptive painting.
In 1897 he started work on a canvas that would boost his presence in artistic circles in Spain: Science and Charity. Following the lines of social realism, which was a t the height of fashion at the time, and keeping to a purely academic approach, this work marked the end of his first youthful period. This painting won Picasso one of the 125 honorary mentions at the General Fine Arts Exhibition in Madrid.
Picasso spent the 1897-1898 academic year in Madrid. Encouraged by his family, he consolidated his apprenticeship as an artist at San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Convinced he was learning nothing new, however, he soon rejected the established education system. During that stay in Madrid, in addition to his academic work, his artistic activity focused on scenes from everyday life and copying the masters at El Prado Museum.
In June 1898 Picasso returned to Barcelona to convalesce. Shortly afterwards he went to Horta de Sant Joan at the invitation of his friend Manuel Pallarès. He stayed there until January 1899 and relished mountain life. His time in Horta was so important that he would never tire of repeating: “Everything I know I learned in Pallarès’ village.”
The works from that period are description of the countryside, its inhabitants and the local landscape. The drawings and paintings he worked on in Horta are a landmark in his artistic evolutions because of their directness, spontaneity and luminosity. The paintings show a new tonality and a great freedom of line, brushstroke and light.
In autumn 1900 Picasso, accompanied by Casagemas, made is first trip to Paris, where he had his first direct contact with the avant-garde currents. This period was dominated by his discovery of the Impressionists, Neo-Impressionists, Nabis and Pointillists, witch had a profound effect on him. Observation of the reality around him, capturing nighttime Paris, its characters and its atmosphere, are the leitmotifs of the paintings from his first visit to the city.
In June 1901 Pere Mañach organised an exhibition of work by Picasso and Francisco Iturrino at Vollard Gallery. His work at that time was marked by the influence of Toulouse-Lautrec. However, unlike Lautrec’s work, there is very little drawing in his oils; the brushstrokes are harsh, the colours are warm and intense; and the paint is often applied with medium and light brushstrokes.
The many sparkling colours of his paintings from 1900 and 1901 were followed by a monochrome of subtle shades. Blue became the dominant colour in his work. The influence of cultural, social and personal factors all played a part in a move from worldly paintings to ones with a distinctly symbolic character.
Over time, the colour blue would monopolise his compositions, while a mysterious, sad and melancholic atmosphere invaded most of his paintings. Blue implies literary associations with decadence and is seen as a highly spiritual colour. This correlation between sadness and sincerity places the world of the underprivileged centre stage.
One of the decisive circumstances in the birth of this blue period is the friendship Picasso struck up with Max Jacob, who introduced him to reading Baudelaire, Rimbaud and, especially, Verlaine.
The change of 1904 into 1905 corresponds to a very gradual shift in Picasso’s work. The mannerism still found in works from early 1905 slowly disappears and the colour is increasingly varied through subtle, delicate combinations, as the artist’s interest in material and volume grows.
Between August and December 1957, Picasso carried out an exhaustive analysis of Velázquez’ Las Meninas. The suite of fifty-eight works which Picasso donated to the Museum in 1968 comprises forty-five interpretations inspired by Velázquez’s painting, nine works that describe the dovecote he had installed in his studio at La Californie villa in Cannes (The Pigeons), three landscapes, and Portrait of Jacqueline.
Let’s begin with the artist’s own words, noted by Sabartés in is book L’atelier de Picasso, to lay the foundations for an analysis of the series: “Suppose one were to make a copy of Las Meninas in good faith. If it were me, the moment would come when I would say to myself: suppose I moved this figure a little to the right or a little to the left? If the case arose, I would do it my own way, forgetting Velázquez. I would almost certainly be tempted to modify the light or arrange it differently in view of the changed position of the figures. Gradually I would create a painting of Las Meninas sure to horrify a specialist in the copying of old masters. It would not be one he thought he saw in Velázquez’s canvas; it would be my Las Meninas.”
The interpretation of this painting is an exhaustive study of rhythm, colour and movement and a constant play of imagination in metamorphosing the personalities of several characters in the work. However, Picasso’s faithfulness and respect towards the atmosphere of Velázquez’s work are evident through all the compositions. The treatment of light, volume, space and perspective given by the old master is conserved through all the analyses as a whole, even though to do so Picasso has recourse to quite different procedures.
From 6 to 14 of September 1957, Picasso took a break from analysing and interpreting Las Meninas and focused instead on the dovecote on the balcony in his studio and the distant view of the bay of Cannes. He always considered this group of works as part of the Las Meninas set.