Picasso’s Blue Period – Ruled By Depression And The Loss Of A Friend

picasso-39592_640There are a few different theories behind Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period. This part of his art timeline lasted from 1901 to 1904. While the paintings were painted in Paris, the work was inspired by Picasso’s time in Spain. These works are among the artist’s most popular and consist of works painted in monochromatic shades of blue and blue-green, rarely warmed by other colors. They are somber works and while extremely popular now, were hard to sell when painted.

Picasso went through a time of instability and poverty and this experience is reflected in his choice of subjects for the Blue Period, including street urchins, beggars, the blind, and the old and frail. The paintings started not long after the suicide of Picasso’s close friend Carlos Casagemas. In late 1901, Picasso suffered from extreme depression and began creating the blue-tone dominated paintings.

Considered the first painting of Picasso’s Blue Period, Casagemas in His Coffin was completed while Picasso was in a heavy depression. He withdrew from socializing and continued to spiral downward, a period which lasted several years. The public turned away from these Blue Period works, finding them too depressing and the subject matter uncomfortable. Picasso’s gloomy painting La Vie was the last in a series of posthumous portraits of Casagemas.

Picasso was also influenced by a visit to St. Lazare, a woman’s prison in Paris. Here, prisoners were guarded by nuns. Following this visit, Picasso painted The Two Sisters where blue symbolized the Holy Mother.

At this time in his life, Picasso was vulnerable to a variety of outside influences. There were many artists and exhibitions believed to have influenced his work. These include Henri Matisse and Fauve. Picasso began exploring new avenues of creativity resulting in his ground-breaking works.

Picasso’s Blue Period produced some of his most popular paintings. Experts vary on exactly what prompted the artist’s use of one color and depressing subject matter.