Following Picasso’s tracks in Barcelona: his legacy in the city

Things you may not know about Picasso

Pablo Ruiz Picasso, internationally known as Picasso, was a Spanish painter and sculptor born in Málaga in 1881. Picasso stood out in the art world for his original approach and creating his own artistic path, as well as for his technique and the creation of his own school of painting, called cubism, that also influenced a lot of different artists through history.

Although he achieved world fame thanks to his paintings and sculptures, the artist from Málaga excelled in other fields such as drawing, engraving and illustration. Picasso also worked with ceramics, set design and props related to costumes for theatrical productions. A versatile talent that served to put Spanish art on the international map.

On April 8, 1871 he died in France leaving a legacy of more than 16,000 works that are exhibited in the most prestigious museums in the world, including the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

Picasso’s tracks in Barcelona

Today’s art is shaped by Pablo Picasso’s paints. The Spanish artist had a long way to develop his own avant-garde style. In his sources of inspiration, Barcelona was a very influential step and a turning point in his life and art. Nowadays, if we walk through Barcelona, we can still follow Picasso’s tracks:

Picasso arrived in Barcelona in 1895. As a curious and energic teenager, he took part in the artistic boom going on in the city. Els Quatre Gats (“The Four Cats”) was a Bohemian pub where Picasso used to hang out. He did his first exhibition there. Located in a very surreal building, the place is now a restaurant where you can still appreciate its well conserved art noveau aspect while you have lunch or dinner.

Picasso became a professional artist during his nine years in Barcelona and had different art studios in the oldest city´s neighborhood, the Gothic Quarter.

There he made friends and was influenced by main Catalan artists of that time like Ramón Casas and Pablo Gargallo.

In a former brothel in Barcelona, which is nowadays a Hostel called Levante, Picasso also used to enjoy the company and special services of beautiful women.

He even dedicated one of his famous paintings “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” to those ladies. However there were assumptions, that the painting was related to the French city “Avinyo”, there are facts, that it was all about this small street Carrer Avinyó in Barcelona.

If you keep your eyes opened, you will see a graffity of this same painting right next to the hostel.

The main expression of the artist’s ties to Barcelona is Picasso Museum, an exhibition which was created by the will of himself. This unique museum shows the majority of Picasso’s paints in his youngest age. You will find it in a huge Medieval palace in Born District, filled with parts of the historic Barcelona that will bring you right back to the Middle Ages. This museum is a must-visit for all the art lovers in the world.

Although Picasso moved to Paris already after nine years in 1904, he was very attached to Barcelona for the rest of his life and his mind found inspiration right at the same streets where people walk around in present.

The most outstanding artworks of Pablo Picasso in the museum of Barcelona

Ciencia y Caridad

Picasso Museum Barcelona, 1897.

Pablo Picasso painted “Ciencia y Caridad” when he was only 15 years old. According to the experts, it is one of Pablo’s last works before leaving the academic line, that is, the starting point in which the painter started experimenting trying to find his own artistic path. That is why this painting is so valuable, since it shows the artistic capacity of Picasso when he was only 15 years old and, on the other hand, the painting helps us to compare it with his other works and discover the origins of Picasso’s work. Named by experts as an art work of social realism, the malagueño focus on this painting in the the advance of the science.

La Espera (Margot)

Picasso Museum Barcelona, 1901

The exceptional technique and voracious hunger that Picasso felt when creating made him experiment with different techniques and styles. In this case “La Espera” shows with a pointillist tendency the nightlife of Paris that he met. Through the strokes of thick brush and the influences of Van Gogh, the Spanish painter created one of the most recognizable works of all his artistic work. Although it was exhibited in Paris, Margot currently resides in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

Desamparados

Picasso Museum Barcelona, 1903

Another recurring theme in Picasso’s work, especially in the early 1900s, was motherhood. In this work, Picasso pays a conscious tribute to Greco’s technique through the hand that protects the baby from the cold. “Desamparados” is a painting in which Picasso wanted to show how difficult it was to bear the burden that society imposed on mothers. Two contrasting aspects stand out in his painting: the light that illuminates the faces with respect to the little expressiveness of their looks and faces. A psychologically hard work that shows the “more human” side of the Spanish artist.

Retrato de Benedetta Bianco

Picasso Museum Barcelona, 1906

Benedetta Bianco was the wife of Ricard Canals, one of Pablo Picasso’s best friends. She agreed to pose for the artist to help him in one of his works for which he needed references. During the posing for the artwork “Un Palco en los Toros”, the painter decided to draw her. In this portrait you can see a remarkable influence of the artistic works of Ricardo Canals. It is a frontal portrait whose focus is on Benedetta’s face and her gesture, as well as other physical aspects of the protagonist, such as her black hair, the look and the veil.

Harlequin

Picasso Museum Barcelona, 1917

It is a portrait in the style of Benedetta Bianco, especially in the composition and the format. “Arlequín” (in Spanish) is a frontal portrait in which Picasso tries to reflect his most comic part, while showing at the same time what he tries to hide from the world. The Harlequin represents that comical and burlesque figure as a metaphor of the artist interior that gives us an idea of what Picasso sees when he looks himself in the mirror. As a curiosity, it is noteworthy that this work was created in Barcelona and was also the first one that was displayed in the museum that receives the artist name.

Las Meninas

Picasso Museum Barcelona, 1957

This is a tribute to another of the greatest Spanish artists of all time, Velázquez. This series of paintings embody several characteristics of the author’s work, such as the space and perspective of the art work. The most remarkable changes that exist with the original painting are the change of format from horizontal to vertical, the simplification of the protagonists and the strong points of light that enter the painting through the windows. If we look at Diego Velázquez’s painting we can see that the windows are closed, while in the work of the author from Málaga these are open, becoming some of the strongest points of the painting.