Young Picasso in Paris
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents an exhibition that exploring a critical juncture in his artistic development.
Pablo Picasso first arrived in Paris from Barcelona in the autumn of 1900, during the final weeks of the Universal Exhibition that included his work in the Spanish pavilion. The ville lumière, or city of light, captivated, and ultimately transformed, the nineteen-year-old Spaniard.
Though Picasso spoke little French, he absorbed everything Paris had to offer over his initial two-month stay and during his return the following May through the end of 1901. He patronized not only the art galleries, but also the bohemian cafés, raucous nightclubs, and sensational dancehalls that permeated his hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre. These sites of social gathering and the various types of people who frequented them quickly became a primary source of inspiration.
The exhibition Young Picasso in Paris explores a critical juncture in his artistic development and highlight a defining work, Le Moulin de la Galette (ca. November 1900), which was recently the subject of a conservation analysis and treatment project. The famous dance hall –formerly a mill engaged in the production of brown bread, or galette– had been depicted by such avant-gardists as Ramon Casas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Vincent van Gogh.
In Picasso’s version, a cross-section of Paris society comingles under the electric lights. This painting and others demonstrate the young artist’s fascination with the unconventional aspects of modern life. Picasso’s early work presages the social disenfranchisement that he brought into sharper relief with his subsequent Blue Period (1901–04) through depictions of the exploited and vulnerable.