Picasso and Politics

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Picasso and Politics
Picasso is an artist that started his career with no real political involvement; the Spanish Civil War forced him into choosing a stance in the world of politics. Prior to the Spanish Civil War Picasso was unaffiliated with any party and remained neutral in the political world. The bombing of Guernica forced him to awaken his inner political activist. Picasso tended to avoid using his art to comment on specific political events, preferring instead to make more general statements about the human condition… notable exceptions…did respond to specific events, although frequently expressing his reactions through a metaphoric language of universal signs and symbols. (Robinson 479)

Picasso’s early work was not politically charged like the painting Guernica. His work shifted after the horrors of war shifted his focus outward into the world. The rise to stardom began with Picasso's Blue Period.

Picasso’s blue period occurred between 1901 and 1904. He appears to express sadness through the use of abundant blue tones on his canvas. Pablo Picasso's Blue Period refers to a series of paintings in which the color blue dominates and which he painted between 1901 and 1904. The blue period is a marvelous expression of poetic subtlety and personal melancholy and contributes to the transition of Picasso's style from classicism to abstract art. (Warncke 13) His close friend Carles Casagemas committed suicide at a bar while Picasso was out of town. Casagemas was distraught after his love for Germaine was unrequited. (…The Early Years 179) I found it interesting that Picasso left his current mistress Odette for Germaine. He began his affair with Germaine after his friend shot himself. (…The Early Years 209) This to me does not sound like a man suffering heartbreak after his friends’ death. However, Picasso says, When I realized Casagemas was dead; I started to paint in blue. (…The Early Years 209) Another influence on Picasso’s blue period seems to be a visit to a women’s prison. A significant influence on Picasso's blue period paintings was his visit to a woman's prison called St. Lazare in Paris, where nuns served as guards… The posture and gestures of the women were derived from the way artists depict the visitation, the color blue symbolizing Mary, the Mother of God. The meeting, or visitation, refers to the meeting between Mary, Mother of God and the mother of John the Baptist. (Warncke 15)

Picasso’s Blue Period was fleeting, soon after came the Rose Period.
Picasso follows up his blue period with what is generally referred to as his Rose Period. The figures become more serene. They are shown in postures of self-enlargement and elongation. They raise their hands above their heads instead of entwining the limbs within each other. (Schapiro 13) The Rose Period releases a more confident Picasso. He is no longer a lesser-known artist striving to establish himself. In the Blue Period, figures belong to a moment of Picasso’s youth when he pities himself as a homeless immigrant in Paris and identifies with the bohemian and the blind and the poor, the outcast… (Schapiro 13) It is during this period when Picasso discovers the works of Paul Cézanne. Picasso paints a self-portrait similar to the one Cézanne painted. Picasso merely borrows ideas, however, Picasso’s self-portrait is not as subtle in the color variation. Though, Picasso does use the idea of the painter’s palette. Picasso still focuses on his own world, not venturing into the realm of politics. Although Picasso’s Blue Period artwork seems to be preferred over the Rose Period; but the Rose Period is the true birth of Picasso’s style. He finds his own unique style during this period. (Schapiro 17) While Pablo Picasso's Blue Period is far more popular with the general public today, his Rose Period is of greater art-historical importance. During his Rose Period, Pablo Picasso would, for the first time in his career, develop stylistic means that would...
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