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Picasso, Pablo: technique and main works

Pablo Picasso

He wants to lay bare everything he sees.

His painting is divided into two periods:

Blue Period

It is a type of painting played on cold colors and melancholy and is influenced by Cézanne and Impressionist themes. It represents the world of the exploited and the marginalized.

Frugal meal: A couple of workers are represented in front of the remains of their humble dinner.

The woman looks at us thoughtfully with deep eyes, while the man embraces her with rude sweetness and looks to the side of her.
Poor by the sea: There are three barefoot and cold characters by the sea, they are the modern metaphor of the Holy Family. Despite their miserable appearance, they stand out for their almost monumental dignity. Despite the use of monochrome, there are three horizontal bands that represent the three elements of nature: air (the sky), water (the sea) and earth (the beach). They contrast with the verticality of the three characters, further isolating them in their drama.

Pink period

It is characterized by a more cheerful style, enlivened by pink and orange colors. There is a renewed interest in space and volume, but in which melancholy is always present. The privileged subjects are harlequins, acrobats or subjects from the circus world, however, represented behind the scenes and never on stage to make everyone understand how difficult it is to practice that lifestyle that is in clear contrast with the purpose of their profession: to make people laugh.

Family of acrobats with monkey: A family (a theme dear to the painter) is re-proposed in a moment of tenderness behind the scenes still wearing stage costumes. The characters form a pyramid and the trained baboon participates in the scene with a look of almost human sweetness, demonstrating the same awareness of the ox and the donkey in the crib.

Les demoiselles d’Avignon: Initially the painting represented seven characters but in the course of seventeen studies the two men disappeared leaving room for a group of five female nudes. Picasso simplifies the shapes of the bodies and the space that is dematerialized. The female figures seem to be made of the same material as the space around them. In the creation of the central figures Picasso is inspired by Iberian sculpture, while the two figures on the right are influenced by the ritual masks of black Africa.

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard: It is one of the most famous paintings of analytic cubism. The artist renounces the verisimilitude and represents the true essence of the character. Both the character and the background are placed on the same plane. You can distinguish a bottle resting on the table, a book and an open newspaper.

Still life with straw chair: The work represents a dead figure set inside a cafe. One can distinguish a lemon cut in half, an oyster, a glass, a newspaper and a pipe. In order not to fall into abstractionism, letters were introduced. There is glued an oilcloth with the straw stuffing of a chair painted on it: the subject (the chair) is false but the material (the oilcloth) is true, in this way it is highlighted how thin the boundary between reality and representation.

The three musicians: takes up the themes of synthetic cubism but with an almost poster-like taste of color. The colors are spread over large and flat surfaces making the scene two-dimensional, while maintaining a depth rendered by the walls and floor. The oil on canvas painting depicts two characters typical of the commedia dell’arte (Pulcinella and Arlecchino) who, together with a monk, improvise a musical trio, while a large dog is crouched under the table.

Guernica: The huge painting is an indictment against war and dictatorship, its huge dimensions (3.5×8 m) are due to the fact that the painting had to be looked at by as many people as possible. The scene of a bombing of the town of Guernica by Germany in the Francoist war is represented. The composition is organized in three vertical bands and the colors, synonymous with life, leave room for a dark black and white. In this painting Picasso combines synthetic Cubism with analytical Cubism, in fact the setting is both internal (as can be deduced from the chandelier above) and external (suggested by the burning building on the right). Men, women and animals flee by overlapping and interpenetrating. In the center appears a wounded horse, symbol of the Spanish people who neighs, turning a sharp tongue to the sky like a shard of glass. The bull represents violence and bestiality. A woman looks out of a window with an oil lamp, a symbol of the regression to which war inevitably leads. A corpse lies on the ground with one hand with a broken life line. A flower in the background symbolizes life and reasonableness that will prevail over death in spite of everything.


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