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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Picasso, Pablo


Breakfast of a Blind Man
1903
oil on canvas
95.3 x 94.6 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA

This man has deeply sunken eye as a result of ocular trauma or failed ocular surgery. "I am painting a blind man at the table. He holds some bread in his left hand and gropes with his right hand for a jug of wine." (Picasso)

The first of Pablo Picasso’s major movements is the Blue Period. Comprised mainly in his late teens it is imperative to keep in mind the living conditions of Picasso at this time. Soon after Picasso left Barcelona for Paris, he began painting using a strong presence of blue. Not only was Picasso living in a new city, with little financial resources, away from his home and family for the first time, many of the influences of this more depressing style of painting can be traced to the suicide of his friend, Casagemas. Prostitutes, beggars, acrobats, harlequins and blindness are all common themes depicted within the paintings of the Blue Period.
The painting is not merely a portrait of a blind man; it is also Picasso's commentary on human suffering in general. The meager meal of bread and wine invites references to the figure of Christ and the principal dogma of Catholic faith, whereby bread and wine represent Christ's body and blood, sacramental associations that Picasso as a Spaniard would have known.

"My mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso." (Picasso)

"Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso", known as Pablo Picasso, (1881-1973) was a Spanish painter and sculptor, born in Malaga on the southern coast of Spain. One of the greatest, dynamic and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

He was exposed to art from a very young age by his father, who was a painter and art instructor. After studying at various art schools between 1892 and 1896, including academies in Barcelona and Madrid, he went on to the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid during the winter of 1896-1897. Picasso soon became bored with academics and set himself up as an independent artist. In Barcelona in 1899 Picasso’s circle of friends included young avantgarde artists and writers who traveled between Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris. Picasso also visited these cities and absorbed the local culture. His early works were influenced by old masters such as El Greco and Velazquez and by modern artists including Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Picasso moved to Paris in 1904 and settled in a dilapidated section of Montmartre, a working-class quarter. This area was home to many young artists and writers, and he was gradually assimilated into their stimulating intellectual community. Although Picasso benefited greatly from the artistic atmosphere in Paris and his circle of friends, he was often lonely, unhappy, and terribly poor.

Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th century his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His revolutionary artistic accomplishments brought him universal renown and immense fortune, making him one of the best-known figures in 20th century art. Based on sales of his works at auctions, he holds the title of top ranked artist. He was also a prolific artist with estimates of 50,000 works of art production in his lifetime, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc..

For the last three decades of his long life Picasso lived mostly in south of France. He worked up until the day he died at age 91; literally painting till 3 am on Sunday, April 8th, which was just hours before his death. He died while he and his wife Jacqueline Roque entertained friends for dinner. Jacqueline prevented his children Claude and Paloma from attending the funeral. Picasso was interred at the Chateau of Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, a property he had acquired in 1958 and occupied with Jacqueline between 1959 and 1962. Devastated and lonely after the death of Picasso, Jacqueline took her own life by gunshot in 1986 when she was 59 years old. Picasso's final words were “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”