Portraits By Pablo Picasso
Portraiture From the Blue Period, Rose Period, African and Cubist Period.

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Picasso's Portraits (1900-44)

The Spanish genius Pablo Picasso is the undisputed leader of the modern art movement. Although his true forte was arguably sculpture, his painting (especially his portrait art) was innovative, dramatic and highly influential on other twentieth century artists.

Portraits From the Blue Period (c.1900-1904)

Picasso's early paintings are usually classified as his Blue Period. This period coincided with his struggle to establish himself in Paris, and his works are uniformly subdued, almost gloomy.

Executed in a range of downbeat blues and grays, contrasted with El Greco-style white faces, their subjects were friends as well as a variety of Parisian street people.

Among his masterpieces from his Blue Period, are portraits such as: Femme aux Bras Croisés (1902), Portrait of Celestina (1903), The Old Guitarist (1903), and Portrait of Suzanne Bloch (1904). In addition, from 1901 he executed several posthumous portraits of his friend Casagemas, notably the gloomy allegorical painting La Vie (1903, Cleveland Museum of Art). He also painted numerous self-portraits, including one of himself as a gaunt, white-faced, hungry-looking artist: Self-Portrait (1901).

Note: For an explanation of 20th century portraits by Picasso, please see: Analysis of Modern Paintings (1800-2000).

For the greatest portraitists
see: Best Portrait Artists.

Famous Portrait Paintings

Weeping Woman (1937)
By Pablo Picasso.
Tate Collection, London.

La Celestina (1904)
Musee Picasso, Paris.

Girl In Chemise (1905)
By Pablo Picasso.
Tate Collection London.

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1909)
By Pablo Picasso.
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.

Boy with a Pipe (1905)
By Pablo Picasso.
Private Collection.


For a list of the Top 50 Portraits
see: Greatest Portrait Paintings.

Portraits From the Rose Period (c.1904-1906)

During the Rose Period, which witnessed a growing recognition of his fine art, Picasso lightened his palette with orange and pink tones to create slightly more upbeat works like: Woman in a Chemise (1905), Garçon à la Pipe [Boy with a Pipe] (1905).

Primacy of Form and Structure

Picasso's Blue and Rose periods were his initial response to Impressionism and Post-Impressionist artists like the colourful Fauvists. His palette was more restricted but colour remained an integral element in his art. Thereafter, he turned his back on this type of nineteenth century representational art and figure painting and became increasingly absorbed with the issue of form and structure. In particular, how to represent reality in a more modern way. Thus, in 1907, together with Georges Braque, Picasso invented Cubism and changed the history of art forever. He himself, however, continued to use the classical idiom - see: Neoclassical Figure Paintings by Picasso (1906-30). His most famous neoclassical works include: Two Women Running on the Beach (1922); Two Nudes (1906); Seated Woman (Picasso) (1920); Large Bather (1921).



Cubist Portraits by Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan Gris

In simple terms, Cubism portrayed reality by cutting it into pieces and then reassembling it jigsaw-style, in order to present an entirely different view. Picasso's Cubist portraiture is exemplified by works like Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1909) and Le guitariste (1910). Cubist portraits by other famous painters include: Woman with a guitar (1913) by Braque, and Portrait of Picasso (1912) by Juan Gris. Picasso's figure drawing was also influenced by African motifs. In his seminal genre-painting known as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, he featured a startling group of female figures, whose faces revealed a shocking variety of images, including: African tribal forms, a semi-minotaur image as well as other anarchic forms.

Later Picasso Portraits

The human form was a constant preoccupation for Picasso, and his portraiture remained typically innovative. He experimented with a bewildering variety of styles: witness for example: his expressionist Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1906), his sparse Portrait of Igor Stravinsky (1920), his Fernando Botero-like bather in The Source (1921), his neoclassical work Woman in White (1923), his allegorical abstract work Girl Before a Mirror (1932), his numerous portraits of Dora Maar - including Weeping Woman (1937) and Dora Maar au Chat (1941) - and the bronze sculpture Man with a Lamb (1944).

NEXT: Contemporary Portraits: Surrealist, Pop and Photorealist Portraits.

• For 19th century portraiture, see: Nineteenth Century portraits.
• For Impressionist portraiture, see: Impressionist portraits.
• For Expressionist portraiture, see: Expressionist portraits.
• For more about the different types of painting (portraits, landscapes, still-lifes etc) see: Painting Genres.
• For more about portraiture by Picasso, see: Homepage.

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