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Picasso’s work is usually categorized into 5 different periods. Whilst the names given to these periods are sometimes debated amongst art critics they are widely accepted as the following;
Blue Period (1901-1904)
Rose Period (1905-1907)
African Influenced Period (1908-1909)
Analytic Cubism (1909-1912)
Synthetic Cubism (1912-1919)
Picasso began to study before 1890 under his father. The progress he made during this time as a very young boy can be seen in the Museum Picasso in Barcelona. The museum houses one of the most extensive and comprehensive collections of some of Picasso earliest works. There isn’t a museum anywhere else that documents the beginnings of a young artist quite as exact as the Museum Picasso in Barcelona. Virtually everything the young man accomplished in his early studies is on display to the public. It is accepted by most that his career as a painter actually begun at the age of 13 when he enrolled at The School of fine Arts in Barcelona. Picasso, underage for the school, was given the opportunity to sit the one month examination with respect to his father holding a position there already as a professor. Picasso stunned the judges completing the entrance examination in just one week. He was hailed a child prodigy.
It is unclear exactly when the blue period begun. However, the subject matter in most of the paintings at this time were prostitutes, beggars, gaunt mothers and people who are generally seemingly down on their luck. At this time Picasso was perhaps influenced by the suicide of a close friend Carlos Casagemas and his resulting trip to Spain. Starting in autumn of 1901 he painted several posthumous portraits of Casagemas most significant being the all too gloomy ‘La vie’ (1903), now in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Similarly, the melancholic portrait etching of Celestine, the infamous Spanish matchmaker in the story novel ‘La Tragicomedia de calisto y Melibea’ or also known as ‘La Celestina.’ has a dreary semblance.
Works during the Rose period are characterized by the more cheerier nature owed to the different reddish hues used on the canvases. Also Picasso’s interest in using circus people in the paintings, Acrobats and harlequins are a common feature in paintings from his era. It was also at the time Picasso became more exposed to the French art scene through his relationship to Fernande Olivier who was a model for painters and sculptors. Many paintings from this period are inspired from his close relationship with her.
Picasso’s African-influenced Period (1907–1909) begins with the two figures on the right in his painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon which were inspired by African masks. Ideas the followed the geometric shapes in this painting are no doubt the foundations and early markings of what directed Picasso towards his cubist style works that he is mostly remembered for.
When I think of the works produced by Henri Matisse it is perhaps the collages that he produced and not so much his paintings which I most associate with him. In 1941 he was diagnosed with cancer and confined to a wheelchair. Having recently divorced he was cared for by one his longtime models, Lidia Delektorskay a Russian woman who looked after him until his death. Having the aid of assistants, at his disposal, Matisse began using scissors and color paper to create shapes and contrasts. He demonstrates to us with the work produced around this time his strong ability at using color and geometry and the space within compositions to produce pieces of work that are so simple yet playful and powerful. Similarly, In 1947 Matisse published ‘Jazz’. This was to be a limited-edition book containing prints of colorful paper cut collages, accompanied by his written thoughts.
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