Permanent Collection - Museo Picasso Barcelona

The collections of the Picasso Museum reveal, to a large extent, the relationship that the artist maintained with Barcelona and depict the key moments of this affinity. As a matter of fact, a large part of the present collect comes from donations that Picasso himself made in 1970 of all his early work.

Owing to this, the museum is very rich in regard to work from the formative periods in the life of the artist. Furthermore, the museum possesses an important representation of works from 1917, the year that Picasso met Olga Kokhlova and went to Rome with Diaguilev’s ballet company to prepare Parade. Afterwards, he would travel to Barcelona to introduce her to his family.

That year Picasso spent a long period in Barcelona. A group of very important works bears witness to this stay; they mark the transition from Cubism to the reencounter with classicism, favoured by his journey to Italy. Some examples of these are Harlequin, Woman with Mantilla, Figure with Fruit Dish and Blanquita Suárez, excellent Cubist pieces, but with more concessions to polychromy and ornamental elements.

The collection is exhaustive up to the Blue Period, of which the museum has a priceless group of works. The end of this period coincides with Picasso’s departure to live indefinitely in Paris, in April 1904.

As can be appreciated, the collections in the Picasso Museum have an unquestionable Barcelonian character, and at the same time, have given a marked Picasso character to Barcelona.

On 9 March 1963, the Picasso Museum opened its doors to the public. The following years were marked by two events. In 1968, following the death of Sabartés, Picasso donated the Blue Portrait of Jaume Sabartés (1901) and the series, Las Meninas (1957), as well as promising to increase the collections by donating a print of all the engravings dedicated to his friend from that moment on.
In February 1970, the artist from Malaga made a second important donation: a total of 920 works carried out in various techniques. Up until then, they had been safeguarded by three generations of his family: his parents, his sister and his sister’s children. This substantial increase of the museum collection involved the annexation of the neighbouring building, the palace of the Baron of Castellet, and later, the Palau Meca. Recently, the two adjacent buildings, Casa Mauri and the Palau Finestres, have also been annexed.
New acquisitions and donations are enlarging the permanent collections. At the same time, a forceful policy of temporary exhibitions on the artist and his circle are being mounted. These have consolidated the Barcelona Picasso Museum as a dynamic and vibrant art centre.
The permanent collection is organised in three sections: painting and drawings, engraving, and ceramics.

The museum possesses the most important and the most complete collection of Picasso’s youthful work. This work demonstrates his thorough academic training, achieved thanks to the guidance of his father and the art schools of Corunna, Barcelona and Madrid. From 1890 to 1897 his work reveals that he had mastered the necessary skills, a fact that gave him the confidence to present his canvases at official competitions, starting with two key oil paintings done in his school days, First Communion (1896) and Science and Charity (1897).
His relationship with the Catalan avant-garde movement, Modernisme, is reflected in a set of portraits of his friends and fellow participants in the conversations and activities that took place in the tavern, Els Quatre Gats. This tavern was the centre of the artistic and intellectual life of the times. From 1900 on, he made a series of trips to Paris, where he made contact with the European avant-garde movements. These visits resulted in work with mundane subjects, painted in strident colours, showing a marked Post-Impressionist influence (Margot and El final del número, 1901).
This use of exuberant colour disappeared and gave way to a monochromatic blue that impregnates the central figures of Picasso’s iconography in the years from 1901 to 1904, his Blue Period.
These figures often came from the margins of society. We find work like Desamparats (1903) and Le Fol (The Madman, 1904), and others, from this period.
In 1905, as a return to classicism, he painted the Portrait of Señora Canals, which is included in the artist’s Rose Period. The excitement and the stylistic transition of Picasso’s art that dominated 1917 are quite evident in the group of works that the artist carried out when he travelled to Barcelona, accompanying Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes (Harlequin, El Passeig de Colom, Gored Horse etc.)
The process of searching for new ways of expression in the plastic arts, begun by Picasso in 1906, would result in a change from a perceptive method to a conceptual one. The influence of Cézanne and Ingres, Iberian art and art from Africa merge in Picasso’s work, reinforcing the simplification of shapes and monumentality, and by eliminating what is not indispensable. He then began a process of simplifying, geometrizing and schematising the shapes, in the predominant reddish-ochre tones. The objectivity, the serenity and the equilibrium of his work set the foundations for his immediate artistic future. The process continued with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and was consolidated with Cubism.
Between August and December 1957, Picasso analyses Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour) by Velázquez in depth. Between August and December in 1957, he shut himself in the studio of his house, La Californie near Cannes, to face the challenge of Las Meninas. One unique piece of work is the origin of fifty-eight oil paintings: forty-four inspired in the model, nine little pigeons, three landscapes and two free interpretations. A whole series in which he plays with exterior and pictorial reality, art and life, to include views from the exterior into the series of paintings. At that time, Picasso was not trying to paint a unique piece, a masterpiece. These paintings served to make of an exhaustive study of form, rhythm, colour and movement. An imaginative game without limits, in which the figures were metamorphosed without varying the perceived space, volume and original light in any way.

In the history of engraving, Picasso is an unquestionable leading figure because of his absolute mastery, the innovations that he introduced, and his prolific work, not only because of the quantity, but because of the wealth of techniques and subject matter employed.
The Picasso Museum has an excellent collection of engravings by the artist, especially from the 1962 to 1972 period. In 1968, after the death of Jaume Sabartés, Picasso decided to donate a print from any engravings in tribute to his late friend.

The section of ceramics includes 41 pieces - donated by Jacqueline Picasso in 1982 - created between 1947 and 1965, where the iconographic and technical innovations introduced by Picasso are evident.

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