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Musee d'Orsay Celebrates Picasso's Blue and Rose Periods

  • Pablo Picasso - Autoportrait, 1901 (detail)
  • Pablo Picasso - La Mort de Casagemas
September 7, 2018
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

Between 1900 and 1904, Pablo Picasso painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. The first major stage of the artist’s work, it came to be known as the famous Blue Period. Reflecting his experience of relative poverty and instability, the works from this period feature beggars, street urchins, the frail and the blind. Following the Portrait of Suzanne Bloch from 1904, Picasso commenced his Rose Period, creating works dominated by cheerful orange and pink hues.

The upcoming exhibition at Musée d’Orsay will offer a new interpretation of these two periods which were a critical moment in his career. Organized in partnership with Musée National Picasso-Paris, the exhibition Picasso. Blue and Rose will explore the young painter within the framework of his era.

Picasso place Ravignan, Picasso, Manach et Fuster
Left: Portrait of Picasso on Ravignan Square, Montmartre. Gelatin-silver print. Paris, Musée national Picasso-Paris, inv. APPH15301. Photo © RMN-Grand. Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau © Succession Picasso 2018 / Right: Picasso, Pedro Manach and Torres Fuster in the studio of 130 Boulevard de Clichy, Paris. Gelatin-silver print, 12 x 8,9 cm. Paris, Musée national Picasso-Paris, inv. APPH2814. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Daniel Arnaudet © Succession Picasso 2018

The Blue and Rose Periods

Upon arriving in Paris in October 1900 at the age of eighteen, Pablo Picasso started a period of intense, creative ferment that saw his newly created artistic identity emerge. Between the years 1900 and 1906, he exhibited a great diversity of styles, at the same time questioning the visual language and challenging the concepts of structuring space.

In this period, the artist moved from a high-keyed palette with Pre-Fauve accents to the quasi-monochromes of the “blue period”, to the pink tones of the “period of circus performers and harlequins”, and the ochre variations of Gósol.

Autoportrait, 1901, Buveuse d'absinthe
Left: Pablo Picasso – Autoportrait, 1901. Oil on canvas, 81 x 60 cm. Paris, Musée national Picasso-Paris, dation, 1979, MP4. Photo © RMN-Grand. Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau © Succession Picasso 2018 / Right: Pablo Picasso – Buveuse d’absinthe, 1901. Oil on canvas, 65,5 x 51 cm. Paris, special collection Musée d’Orsay. Photo © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt © Succession Picasso 2018

A Chronological Approach

In an attempt to avoid the fragmentation of this creative period into a number of isolated stages, the exhibition at Musée d’Orsay will display the works chronologically. In this way, the showcase goes beyond the limits set by historiographers for the Blue Period as the one between 1901 and 1904 and the Rose Period as the one between 1905 and 1906, finding a balance between an over fragmentary vision of Picasso’s youth years and his all-encompassing geniosity.

Divided into 16 section across 1500 m2, the exhibition brings together over 300 Picasso works, including 80 paintings, around 150 drawings, around 15 sculptures and 20 prints. Artworks will be accompanied by archives, photographs and correspondence, offering more insight and perspective on Picasso’s artistic career.

Arlequin assis au fond Rouge, Femme au peigne
Left: Pablo Picasso – Arlequin assis au fond Rouge, 1905. Watercolor and Indian ink on paper. Berlin, Museum Berggruen © bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB, Museum Berggruen / Jens Ziehe © Succession Picasso 2018 / Right: Pablo Picasso – Femme au peigne, 1906. Gouache on paper, 139 × 57 cm. Paris, musée de l’Orangerie, collection Jean Walter et Paul Guillaume Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée de l’Orangerie) / Hervé Lewandowski © Succession Picasso 2018

Pablo Picasso Exhibition at Musee d’Orsay

The exhibition Picasso. Blue and Rose will be on view at Musée d’Orsay in Paris from September 18th, 2018 to January 6th, 2019.

It is organized by the Public Establishment of the Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie, and the Musée national Picasso-Paris, in collaboration with the Fondation Beyeler, Basel.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog and a range of events such as a lecture cycle, roundtable, symposium Through Picasso’s Eyes. A return to the sources of the Blue and Rose periods, evening concerts and more.

Featured images: Pablo Picasso – Autoportrait, 1901 (detail); La Mort de Casagemas, 1901. Oil on canvas, 27 x 35 cm. Paris, Musée national Picasso-Paris, inv. MP3. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Mathieu Rabeau © Succession Picasso 2018. All images courtesy of Musee d’Orsay.