Saturday, June 2, 2012

Picasso: 1890 - 1902, Earliest ART

+ JMJ +

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." ~  Pablo Picasso

Picasso:  Love his ART, but not his private life!

Last Saturday (May 5, 2012), we visited a special Picasso exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Here's a picture of Robs and the boys at the NGA's side entrance, with a poster of Picasso's self-portrait as a young man, above the door.

An introduction to the exhibit from the NGA website:

"Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) is generally acknowledged as the greatest draftsman of the 20th century. Through some 55 works, the exhibition presents the dazzling development of Picasso's drawings over a 30-year period—from the precocious academic exercises of his youth in the 1890s to the virtuoso works of the early 1920s, including the radical innovations of cubism and collage. This exhibit is the first to focus on his major drawings, watercolors, pastels, and collages."

The exhibition was called "Picasso's Drawings, 1890-1921: Reinventing Tradition." The works were presented chronologically, from early academic studies and life drawing to preparatory drawings for paintings, major independent and finished drawings made for sale, and portraits of family and friends in all media.

It was fascinating to see his classical training background and his transition to abstract art, some of which I'd like to show in a series of posts in this blog, using a combination of works from the exhibition and online.

Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, draftsman, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer. He was one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. He co-founded the Cubist movement, as well as co-invented collage.

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.


Picasso was born on the 25th October 1881 in Malaga, in southern Spain. Called Pablo Ruiz Picasso after his father and mother, Jose Ruiz Blasco and Maria Picasso Lopez, he later dropped his father's surname to become simply Pablo Picasso.

Picasso’s father was also a painter, who specialized in naturalistic depictions of birds and other game. For most of his life, Ruiz was a professor of art at the School of Crafts and a curator of a local museum. Below is a painting by him.

Pigeons, 1888 by Don Jose Ruiz Blasco (Picasso's father) 

Picasso showed a passion and a skill for drawing from an early age. From the age of seven, he received formal artistic training from his father in figure drawing and oil painting.

The exhibition we visited at NGA opened with a selection of the most accomplished drawings from his childhood, including Hercules (1890)—his earliest known drawing.

"Hercules" (1890), done in pencil on paper when Picasso was 8 or 9.
"I never did children's drawings. Not even when I was very small - never," Picasso commented to art critic Helene Parmelin. "In my father's home there was a Hercules with his club in the passage. So, I went into the passage and drew him. But that was no child's drawing. It was a fully-fledged drawing depicting Hercules holding his club." (Ocaña 1997)

As a young boy, Picasso became preoccupied with art to the detriment of his classwork. At the tender age of 9, he completed his first painting: Le picador, a man riding a horse in a bullfight.

Pablo's First Drawing:
Le Picador by Pablo Picasso

Ruiz was a traditional, academic artist and instructor who believed that proper training required disciplined copying of the masters, and drawing the human body from plaster casts and live models.

At the age of 10, Picasso started formal art training in La Coruña, where he copied classical drawings and models as part of his drawing exercises. The two drawings depicted below were done at the age of 11 during Picasso's first year of training.
As you can see from the detail and shading, Picasso was attune to the subtle shadows cast by the plaster model, and even at such a young age, was capable of capturing a high sense of realism.

La Coruna, 1892-1893
Black pencil & charcoal on laid, ivory paper

La Coruna, 1892-1893

Study of a Torso, After a Plaster Cast, 1893-94
by Picasso, age 12 or 13  (Musée Picasso)

By age 14, he had mastered the conventions of classical draftsmanship through intense academic study and hard work, exemplified above in Study of a Torso (1895).

Self-Portrait, 1901/1902

To see more of Picasso's enormous, young talent, click here for some of his paintings from 1893-1896. 

No comments:

Post a Comment