Emanates From Pain and Sadness: Picassos Blue Period
The Blue Period (1901-1904) has long been considered Picassos
first true evolution as an artist in creating a manner of his own. Beginning
with several paintings that memorialized the recent suicide of his friend
the artist's themes grew somber and dark, and he implemented a palette
consisting almost exclusively of shades of blue. The monochromatic use
of blue was fairly standard in symbolist painting in Western Europe,
often related to representations of melancholy or hopelessness. The
figures in his works were often depicted as Bohemian-type outcasts,
which happened to be the life that Picasso was leading himself, poor
and far away from his family. Some examples of his subjects included
beggars, prostitutes, the disabled, circus performers as well as some
of his penniless friends. The Blue Period dramatizes the artist as an
outcast from society and the theme of this era in Picassos career
owes much to the eighteen-nineties when the idea of the artist as lhomme
maudit, happy and dissociated from ordinary life but superior to it,
was created in Western Europe.
Its widely believed that the origins were much more complex and connected with Picassos artistic aims as blue was rich in associations and a favorite among many artists of the time. Picasso produced many famous works that are truly indicative of his presumed meanings. Most historians and critics would agree that the key painting of this time was La Vie. The work contains a deep sense of melancholy and has given rise to more mystification than any other early work by this artist. Scholars agree that the painting is unmistakably allegorical and scholars feel that this particular subject matter may be referencing the responsibilities of daily life, the incompatibility of sexual love, and the struggles behind artistic creativity. The pessimistic outlook is further captivated by the use of the cold, bleak, blue tones. An interesting subtopic is the fact that this artistic masterpiece was intended as a self-portrait. X-ray analysis reveals that the central figure was originally Picasso, further evidenced by the preliminary drawings created in preparation for the painting itself. The recent advancement of x-ray analysis is crucial in uncovering hidden intentions and original concepts of famous paintings of the past. This development in technology is further illustrated and highlights another famous work by Picasso during this time.
Picasso: The Formative Years, Blunt, Anthony and Phoebe Pool. New
York: New York, Graphic Society, 1962.
A Life of Picasso: Volume 1 1881-1906, Richardson, John. New York: Random House, 1991.
Mood of a Painting http://webexhibits.org/colorart/mood.html
Picasso: The Early Years, 1892-1906 http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/picbro.shtm
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) http://www.artchive.com/artchive/P/picasso_blue.html
Revealing Picasso http://www.artic.edu/aic/conservation/revealingpicasso/arthistory.html