BY RENU MEHTA, BARCELONA
Barcelona is not only the city of Antonio Gaudi, but also of Picasso, one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century, who continues to reign supreme alongside Gaudi.
As we take a walk through the narrow lanes of the city that began from La Rambla, we also encounter the history of Picasso, born in Malaga in Spain in 1881. The artist was known for introducing cubism, a new concept at the time, in his paintings.
The guide walked us through the narrow streets to show us the house where the family lived, the studio where Picasso worked and the Art School he went to. Very distinctive is the lane called D’Avinyo that Picasso would visit with his friends very frequently.
“Picasso was very fond of visiting the ladies of Avino,” our guide said, saying the artist was fond of visiting prostitutes, a common thing at the time.
A large oil painting entitled Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) painted by Picasso in 1907, showing five women illustrated in the nude in unconventional depiction, lends credence to the guide’s words.
The walking tour also takes participants to a restaurant owned by Pittara, a writer at the time and Picasso’s friend, where the intellectuals would gather. The tour then weaves through various streets painting a portrait of Picasso’s life as he lived it in Barcelona.
When he was very young, Picasso’s family moved from Malaga to La Coruna. When he was only 12 years old, the family moved once again, this time to Barcelona because his sister Conchita died and it is presumed the family wanted to flee from sad memories.
Belonging to a middle class family, Picasso’s father was a painter and art professor at the School of Crafts. It was Picasso’s father Ruiz who provided artistic training to his son, who showed an early interest in art, in drawing and oil painting. Picasso produced his first paintings that included portraits of his family and soon began to exhibit and sell his work when he was only 14 years old.
In Barcelona, Picasso’s father got a job in the School of Fine arts and requested the Academy to allow his son to sit for the advanced class. He was permitted to do that but first had to participate in the entrance examinations to showcase his talent.
“What took others to complete in a week, Picasso completed in a day,” said the guide.
At the age of 18, the artist wanted to come into his own and decided to quit academics. He argued with his father and moved into an apartment with a friend, getting his first studio and subsequent exhibition at the age of 18. Today, the two bedroom apartment that he rented is leased out to others for approximately 800 Euro a month.
Picasso was fond of painting landscapes of the neighbourhood. He also used to say that only beloved people need to be painted. His art has characters who resemble his father in the role of doctor.
The artist also went through the blue period – from 1901 to 1905 – when a friend commits suicide and Picasso breaks away from his family home.
‘Blue painting is a blue period when he breaks from family home. He cannot afford paints. It’s a period of sadness and madness.”
From 1905-1906, the art colours change from blue to pink. According to researchers, the artist is recovering. Getting success.
“There are new paintings like Harlequin and his artwork expressed the joy of life.”
In 1907, Picasso moved to Paris where he worked with the Russian ballets and met his first wife. There his art changed, portraying three dimensions. The figures have the geometric effect and each dimension is filled with a different colour. The body movements and leg movements in the paintings are different.
He did return to Barcelona with the Russian ballet in 1917, but after that never came back to Spain. He painted the Las Meninas and painted 60 paintings from memory because 20 years had passed since he was in Spain.
By 1956, the artist was rich and famous. He lived in the south of France and had married a second time. His art often depicted his own life. His dog Sasha is very prevalent in his paintings. His work was detailed and obsessive
Picasso never returned to Spain saying that as long as dictactor Franko was in power, he would not come back. Unfortunately, the dictactor outlived him.
Even though Picasso moved to the South of France and most of his paintings are housed in the Louvre, the Spaniards are very proud of Picasso, claiming him as their own invention. (visitbarcelona.com).