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Monday, May 23, 2011

Picasso's Periods

The history of art is full of so many "periods" there is a real danger of our "drowning" in them, so to speak. Let me see, did the Mannerist period come before or after the Renaissance? I forget, what came after Baroque? Which came first the Rococo or the Barbizon--the chicken or the egg? To make matters worse, individual artists, especially those surviving well into old age have numerous "periods" through which their work passed as their careers passed. Some of them have dabbled in as many as half-a-dozen different styles over the course of their lives. The work of Salvadore Dali is an example.  Some of these artist were merely searching for themselves, probing various influences, while some could more accurately said to have been "evolving".   
One artist's life is so festooned with various "periods" that it reads almost like the history or twentieth-century painting. Coincidentally, his career started so near the start of that century the comparison is quite accurate. Although some may dispute it, the career of Pablo Picasso is very nearly Twentieth-Century painting in a nutshell. So pervasive was this man's influence that he could be said to have been a driving force in the progression of art in the twentieth century. Though trained in the academic tradition of Spanish art he arrived in Paris at the age of 19 around the turn of the century.

La Vie, 1903, Blue Period,
Pablo Picasso
Picasso's Blue Period encompasses works from 1901 to 1904 and beyond the obvious color reference there as a strong influence from El Greco and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Garcon a la Pipe, 1905, Rose Period,
Pablo Picasso

Picasso's Rose period follows from 1905 to 1908 in which his works were lighter in spirit as well as in color. Shortly thereafter his interests turned to African art, though art historians have stopped short of burdening us with an "African Period".  Les Demoiselles d' Avignon of 1907 was a merging of these two interests.

As a direct outgrowth of this groundbreaking painting, came Analytical Cubism, from which sprung Synthetic Cubism, and an almost endless array of other, lesser known "isms" used by art historians to try and further compartmentalize and analyze a career that, as it evolved, gradually came to defy analysis. The same could be said for the history of twentieth century art.
Le guitariste, 1910,
Analytical Cubism,
Pablo Picasso
Three Musicians, 1921, Synthetic Cubism,
Pablo Picasso 

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