Last Chance to Catch Two Amazing Picasso Exhibits in Paris

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Last Chance to Catch Two Amazing Picasso Exhibits in Paris
If you will be spending the first weeks of January in Paris, escape the winter chill and make sure you catch these two amazing Picasso exhibits before they close. Picasso arrived with his friend and fellow painter Carlos Casagemas at the gare d’Orsay on his first trip to Paris in October 1900. With his painting The Last Moment under his arm to represent Spain at the Paris International Exhibition, he walked out of the gare and into history. Today that train station is now one of the best museums in the world, the Musée d’Orsay, and until the 6th of January it’s holding a retrospective of his blue and rose periods. At the start of the exhibit, you see many self-portraits he painted in 1901, at the age of 19. They carry the influence Paris had on him from the first day he arrived. In Paris, Picasso discovered the romantic paintings of Eugène Delacroix and Jacques-Louis David and works by Gustave Courbet, Edward Manet, the Impressionists, Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. Yo Picasso– painted in the spring of 1901 with its layers of thick paint and bright orange scarf– looks more like a Van Gogh then a Picasso. Only a few months later in the winter of 1901 his self-portrait became darker and more subdued with hallowed cheeks, dark coat and piercing gaze, which also signaled the start of what would be known as his Blue Period. This period with its sad and depressing colors was a reaction to the death of his friend Carlos Casagemas who killed himself in a Montmartre restaurant on February 17, 1901. A tale of unrequited love that left a lasting sadness with Picasso, that some say he never was able to get past. I first came across the story when researching the Picasso sculpture by Église St Germain de Près and was struck with how sad the story of Carlos Casagemas was. Following his death Picasso had returned to Paris and stayed in the studio of Casagemas; it is here he prepared for an upcoming show while in the depths of depression. The room dedicated to these paintings is stunning and the sadness oozes from the canvases. Le Mort de Casagema was the departure from the dark colors. The face of his friend, with the bullet wound visible on his temple, surrounded by bright color of yellow, red and orange could be seen as a nod to Van Gogh who had also committed suicide. Évocation (L’enterrement de Casagemas) painted in 1901 is an amazing piece reminiscent of a floating dreamlike Chagall painting. As they lay Carlos to rest, the sky above is filled with images of nude women and a sense of lightness. Affecting Picasso for years, it showed in his paintings from such an early period in his career. That may be most visible in his 1903 painting, La Vie. A young man and woman standing nude, gesturing towards a painting of a naked couple holding each other while a woman holding a baby looks at them. The figure of the man was at first a self-portrait of Picasso, but he later changed it to the face of Carlos. In his arms, the woman is the source of his heartache and suicide, Germaine Pichot. However, it is what is under this painting that is truly remarkable. An x-ray of the painting in 2012 revealed that Picasso had painted over his Le Dernier Moment, the painting that first brought him to Paris. The painting was inspired by the death of his sister Conchita who died at the age of 7 in 1895 of diphtheria. Picasso was known to have painted over many of his works over the years, but to pick the subject of La Vie, to be layered of Le Dernier Moment, is rather sad and poetic. By 1904 he had moved back to Paris and was staying at the now iconic Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre living among the artists, writers and poet. It was here he began to dig himself out of his depression and the Rose Period was born. Inspired by the Medrano Circus on the Rue des Martyrs, he began to paint in pink hues. Depicting the images of families and circus life was a more uplifting subject. It was his first foray into painting Harlequins that you will see later at the next museum. The exhibit concludes with his Ochre Period. Inspired by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Picasso would take on a large scale painting but later deserted the idea. What would come of it is a series based on the theme The Watering Place. Boy Leading a Horse is one in the series; at over seven feet tall with just the figure of a horse and a boy against a vast desert, the ochre colors and simplicity is a change from his darker years. It is in this period he began to discover the female nude through the eyes of Gauguin. The final paintings, La Toilette and La Coiffure both are based on the theme of hairdressing and inspired by The Turkish Bath, by Ingres, that Picasso saw at the Salon d’Automne in 1905. The theme will be seen again in a grand piece seen at the next exhibit. The Musée d’Orsay did an amazing job with this exhibition and there is so much more to it than mentioned here. If you can’t make it to Paris by January 6th, download the special exhibition app. It’s a fantastic way to learn of some of the details on some of these amazing works…

Lead photo credit : Picasso Blue and Rose at the Orsay. © Image The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow © Succession Picasso 2018. Graphisme C. Lebrun, communication EPM

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Claudine Hemingway had a deep love of Paris instilled in her at an early age from her beloved grandparents. Following in their footsteps, she is happiest strolling the historic cobblestones soaking in the architecture, art and history. Highly sought after to plan your Parisian adventure that ventures off the beaten path and digs deeper into the historic and secret Paris. Contact her at [email protected] to plan your trip. You can follow her adventure and daily Paris history lesson on Instagram @claudinebleublonderouge


  • Miss
    2019-01-24 21:39:56
    Thsnk you!