Sunday, July 17, 2011

When I think about the work of Pablo Picasso I immediately think of Cubism and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and the historic impact of Guernica. And if I continue to think I'll eventually remember that he once had a Blue Period and a Rose Period

While in Spain we were able to see Picasso's early work at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona and also his later work, including much of his cubist work and Guernica itself, at the Reina Sofia in Madrid. But what I really loved, were the unexpected pieces, particurily this "doodle" of Jaime Sabertes*, which ultimatly just seemed like maybe Picasso was entertaining himself during a boring conversation, poking fun at a good friend.

Also, at on display in Barcelona were Picasso's 58 renditions of Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas (1656). Viewing these were fascinating because it truly seemed to be an obsessive compulsive exploration of one painting, and it was interesting to see what parts remained consistent and which ones he altered the most. We also got a chance to see Velezquez's original Meninas at the Prado in Madrid. Having seen Picasso's manipulations only made this painting more fascinating.

On our 12 day journey we hit four art museums. Interestingly, this was not initially part of our vacation plan. But in the mission to seek out air conditioning, it was a pleasant surprise. I am happy to have had a chance to explore Picasso's progression from his early fine arts training as an academic realist, his ventures into cubism and surrealism, and his transformation into to commercial mastermind.

*Jaime Sabartés met Picasso in Barcelona at the tavern Els Quatre Gats. The poet became one of Picasso's closest friends and his private secretary for over 50 years. Much of the funding for the Picasso Museum in Barcelona came from the donation of Sabartés and from Picasso himself at the suggestion of Sabartés. In 2008, the Picasso Museum has opened a new Sabartés Room, which includes several Picasso portraits of Sabartés.


  1. I think it also helped that we managed to see all 4 museums for exactly 0 euros. Look at us -- sophisticated AND thrifty :)

  2. If only we had known enough to turn the corner and visit Els Quatre Gats personally!! Blasted life with no smart phone!