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The evolution of Picasso’s self-portraits in different stages of his life

Pablo Picasso, a famous artist of the 20th century, is a creator of exceptional longevity who turned modern art upside down with his passion, intelligence and curiosity. Indeed, he was a highly talented draughtsman, painter and sculptor. Throughout his career, he tried out different artistic styles that we detail in this article.

From the power of blue to the beautiful pink era

In 1896, at the age of 15, Pablo Picasso painted his first self-portrait in a realistic style. His painting is quite classical with contents expressed in different colours. The year 1901 marks the beginning of the Picasso era, more specifically his blue era, translating his resistance to human suffering. This was the beginning of the painting of darker scenes with blue tones such as “Woman in Blue” or the self-portrait of the blue Picasso era called “Self-Portrait in Blue”. Then, in 1904, the artist went through the pink era, marked by the use of rather reddish tones, evoking love and joy. For him, pink has more festive meanings softened by tenderness. This was the period when Picasso leaned towards line work and drawing over colour, notably in a coulour palette self-portrait.

Cubism: the birth of modern art

Inspired by his various discoveries and encounters, geometrisation was introduced into the self-portrait of Picasso during his lifetime. This geometrical representation is emphasized in his works in the form of fragmentation, in order to move towards cubism. Modern art was born in 1907 by the legendary Pablo Picasso with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, categorically breaking with artistic traditions. His famous Self-Portrait with a Wick is sufficiently realistic with geometric forms such as a triangular face, prominent elliptical eyes, and features pencilled in by those of the face, the wisp of hair as well as the folds of the clothes. The figures and still lifes show the explosion of volumes leading to an arrangement of planes and a general perception of the canvas. This is the period of the limits of abstraction, favouring above all the nuanced colours of brown and grey cameos.

The return to classical painting and a mixture of styles

Between fragmented geometry, neoclassicism, surrealism, and many others, the star of cubism is really difficult to follow in his art, because he kept changing his pictorial style according to his worries, his dramas, his encounters, and his loves. From one period to the next, there is a change of colours, shapes, and lines. And after spending several years breaking all the existing artistic norms, he naturally returned to his classical roots, adding a little personal touch each time. There is no doubt that the happy and fulfilling life, with his entry into the bourgeoisie, changed his vision of things. Facing Death, the self-portrait made in 1972, marks the end of the self-portrait era for Picasso.

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