Exhibition on Screen: Young Picasso (2019) - full transcript

Pablo Picasso is one of the greatest artists in the world, and until his death in 1973, he was the most prolific. How it all began ? How was Picasso built? After being ignored for too long, it's time to focus on the artist's early years, his education and the lessons that allowed him to accomplish the extraordinary. Three cities played a key role: Malaga, Barcelona and Paris. Young Picasso crosses them and explores their influence on the artist, analyzing specific works from his beginnings.

In the autumn of 1907,

a young Spanish artist showed
his Parisian friends a new painting.

So horrified were they that he rolled
it up and hid it away for a decade.

Indeed, it wouldn't be
properly shown until 1937.

And yet it's a painting that
changed the course of art history.

The artist was Pablo Picasso.

Picasso was, like so many artists
at the beginning of the century

an interesting mixture of many influences.

There was a Spanish poet,
Antonio Machado, who said

that a man's homeland is his childhood.

Picasso's childhood is Málaga

and his core is Málaga.

This never left him.

He never forgot the
light of the Mediterranean.

He remembered the bulls that he
visited with his parents and his uncles

here in Málaga.

Flamenco was part of him.

Picasso is Málagueño but
he is also from Barcelona,

from La Coruña,

and he is also, eventually,

an artist that is formed in Paris

but his homeland, his childhood, is Málaga.

The Málaga in which Picasso was born

was a Málaga of class struggle,

a Málaga divided between
the upper bourgeoisie

and the working class.

It's a year in which Málaga's
industry is still strong

but is falling behind

in comparison with other industrial areas.

Especially the north
of Spain and Barcelona.

But Picasso's city was also the home

of the Golden Age of Málagueña painting.

In the city there are great painters

sculptors, engravers

but all local.

Picasso, from childhood,
absorbed that environment.

One of the most important aspects of

Picasso's very nature

was the capacity he had for attention

fixation and, above all, retention.

Although Picasso studied in depth

the most important traditions of art

German, Italian, French

there was something in his work
that takes us directly to the south

to this hybrid south, a south
in which different cultures

have historically lived together.

The Jew, the Arab, the Christian.

I believe this is key to
understanding the work of Picasso

because it has the elements

the forms, these cultural elements

that, distinct from their place of
origin, comprised the south of Spain.

Here, in Málaga,

Picasso enjoyed bullfights

he admired doves and pigeons.

This brought him closer to Andalucía.

To his roots.

To his origins.

This is the house where
Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born

on October 25th, 1881.

This house had been inhabited
before the wedding of Picasso's father

by the father and his two sisters

but after the wedding of José Ruiz Blasco

with María Picasso López

the couple came to live here.

And this is where Picasso was born.

The family had a great
influence on Picasso.

The character of Doña María

the profession of Don José

were key influences in
his life and in his work.

Picasso grew up in a small
bourgeois family in Málaga

where thanks to his father's
profession and his father's friends

he came into direct contact with painting

with drawing, with colour.

Here he makes his first
drawings, his first paintings.

The childhood of Pablo
Picasso was an exciting one

because it was linked to art

since his father was an art teacher.

On the other hand his
childhood was full of visual stimuli.

Málaga was a small city.

He lived where there was
a lot of life on the streets

and that probably affected his
way of understanding the world.

Málaga and the presence of his father

were the key points of his influences.

I would say that when his father
was asking him to draw a pigeon

or to go to a corrida with him,

he was building his son with
very strong Spanish roots.

We cannot neglect the fact

that Don José is very important
for Pablo as an inspiration.

He realised that Pablo
was more than talented

and that this needed to be supported.

In 1891, a few days
before his tenth birthday,

Pablo arrived in a very
different part of Spain,

La Coruña on the northern Atlantic coast.

Pablo's father, José, had
secured a teaching role.

And it was here that he really taught
his young son how to paint with oils.

"In La Coruña, my father did not go out

unless it was to go to the art school.

On his return, he painted.

But nothing more.

The rest of the time, he looked
out the window at the falling rain

and then, in the end, he
abandoned painting for good.

Instead he gave me his
colours and his brushes

and he never painted again.

It frightened my parents that their child

dared exhibit his work.

Some friends chose a place,

an umbrella shop at Calle Real number 54,

more a junk shop selling
everything from headscarves to suits.

In spite of my cheap
prices the sales were poor.

I wouldn't have sold a thing

were it not for the generosity
of my father's friends..."

Picasso arrived in La Coruña on
October 14th, 1891 from Málaga.

He made the trip by
boat with his whole family.

They would stay in La Coruña
for three and a half years.

It was a very important
period for the young Picasso

because it was where he
started his academic training

and where he also began

to make his first pictures
with a completely free spirit.

That first year Picasso was
enrolled at secondary school

and the school of fine arts

which was in the same
building as the secondary school.

Picasso had as his teacher his own father

José Ruiz Blasco, who
had taken that position

and Picasso combined these
studies between 1892 and 1894

but then in 1894 his father

decided that his son end his normal studies

to stop studying mathematics and grammar

and to devote himself
solely to the study of art.

At the beginning of 1895

Pablo starts to study the natural figure

and it was Picasso's
father who paid the models

to pose for Picasso and his classmates.

It was here that Picasso
made considerable advances

because over two or three
months he made many portraits.

These portraits were important
not just from an artistic point of view

but from a psychological one

because Picasso exhibited these works

in the shop windows of the Calle Mayor

which was common for artists at that time.

Picasso received some
very complimentary reviews.

Some even compared
him to Giotto and Raphael.

These paintings, rather than
being considered works of genius

should be seen as the works

of a 13-year-old boy
already showing promise.

My grandfather realised that the
artistic scene was in Barcelona.

Of course, he was very
young: 13, 14 years old.

And there is a part of luck in his life

because when his father
was appointed in La Coruña,

was offered to make a switch
with someone in Barcelona,

it was just luck

because Pablo was going to be
part of the artistic scene of Spain

and from Barcelona everything was possible.

When one looks at Picasso's work

one always sees the desire to rebel

of not wanting to do what
others told him to do as an artist.

This is evident from the beginning

when, as a child he did
things that adults usually do

and later, as an adult

he did things that children do.

We are talking about an artist

who can be described as a great rebel

against the artistic academy

against conventions

against stereotypes

against the authority of others.

Very shortly after arriving in Barcelona

Picasso was enrolled
in the Llotja art school.

The training was very old-fashioned.

The young students did not like it

because the academy was
basically repetition and copying.

Picasso was very reluctant

to follow this training.

But there is the great paradox

that the academic training
that Picasso received

in La Coruña, in Barcelona
and later in Madrid

was decisive for his training as an artist.

Picasso is an artist
who throughout his life

will want to break the rules

and transgress from all the teaching

he had received in his training.

Despite this he is an artist who has

a very solid, very sound base.

A base that allowed him later to develop

in a more profound way as an artist.

The Picasso who arrived in Barcelona

at just 13 years of age

was no more than a student of fine arts.

He was not yet the genius he was to become.

Nor did he pass through Barcelona

as a great artist
recognised by all the world.

The Picasso that was in
Barcelona was an artist still evolving.

Very eclectic in the sense that he fed on

different influences that came from outside

but he had not yet defined his own style.

But in the meantime,
he was being influenced

from all directions.

I think that the Barcelona period
was important for two reasons.

The first, something more academic.

On the other side you
have the people of Barcelona

and those exotic subjects
like prostitutes or local people.

I think that Pablo in Barcelona
discovered how wide was the scope

to see through the people.

Of course, Barcelona was
offering a lot of inspiration.

The theme of this painting is a theme

that was really in vogue

in the late 19th century.

The subject of medicine,
of scientific advances

and in particular hospital medicine.

The young Picasso
chose a fashionable subject

that he knew would be
successful in a national exhibition.

The format was also
important for a national contest.

The entrants

looked for themes that were in vogue

but also they had to be large-scale

which featured one or several characters.

The more complex, the more
the artist could demonstrate

their abilities and training.

For example he included hands

which always proved
difficult for an artist.

In 1896 and 1897 Picasso was
making many studies of hands

in the sketchbooks that
he carried in his pockets.

He was becoming trained in all subjects

not only in depicting clothes
or making compositions

but also showing the hands
and features of the subjects.

It could be said that this was the pinnacle

of his academic training

where he was still following a
path closely supervised by his father.

His father was the one who had organised
his professional career until now.

At this moment Picasso is tired

like any young man of his age

he wanted to do things in a different way

and these national
competitions, these subjects

no longer interested him.

But it had been his father
overseeing his career

and who surely posed here as the doctor.

This painting must have
been a challenge because

we do not know the exact dimensions
of the studio where he painted it

but clearly it was a small space.

It was a challenge for an artist

who was physically short

who was young

and not very experienced

to paint a work of this great size

in a space that did not
allow him a great perspective.

And some of the drawing
faults that are evident in this work

could come from the lack of perspective

not being far enough away from the work.

He received criticism

some quite harsh, a bit sarcastic.

In particular he was criticised
for the hand of the patient.

But without a doubt

Picasso, at the age he was then

was well-received.

They saw his potential.

His father and uncle saw his potential too

and paid for him to go to Madrid,

to study at the prestigious San
Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

The academic environment
and living alone in the city

did not appeal

but what did catch Picasso's
attention was the Prado Museum

and the glories of
Spanish art that lay within.

Velázquez, Goya, even El Greco and more.

But by the summer of the following year

he was back in Barcelona and
as likely to be in a bar as a gallery.

When Picasso begins to move

in the alternative world

in the bars and cafés of Barcelona

he initially relates to
a generation of artists

young artists who have not yet acquired

an important status in the artistic world.

Picasso is a young artist

who is still trying to
navigate the artistic world.

There were different tables

and it's obvious that at this stage

he is placed among
the less relevant artists.

But little by little

he will form bonds with the
great figures of Catalan art

who are the artists that, to begin with,

do not have contact with Picasso.

He as a teenager gets very much
involved with a group of artists

around the café of Els Quatre Gats

who were politically involved

because they were sympathisers of anarchism

and Catalan nationalism.

He must have been stricken

by this very lively
community of young artists.

In February 1900, Pablo
Picasso made a breakthrough.

In the back dining room
of the café Els Quatre Gats,

he held his first exhibition.

The dozens of portraits
hung in lines around the room

caught the attention and admiration

of the leading Catalan and
modernist artists of the day.

When he starts to frequent Quatre Gats

Picasso met Ramon
Casas and Santiago Rusiñol.

They were not only
going to influence his art

but they would also raise the
question of what is an artist?

Casas and Rusiñol had
gone to Paris very young.

They had lived the bohemian life.

They had taken morphine.

They were very different
in character to his father

who was very conventional.

So Picasso, at this moment
started thinking about Paris.

It was in Barcelona that he changed

after listening to his older companions

tell him about all of the wonders of Paris.

We have this wonderful
portrait from the year 1900

which is when Picasso
was occupying the studio

in Calle Riera de Sant Joan

with his friend Casagemas.

In this work we can see that Picasso

had already completely changed his style

from what he had been doing before.

His sister Lola had been
one of his first models.

This work is very odd

because we see that
Lola appears without a face

but it is an optical effect.

If we open a window and
the sun shines through

into a dimly lit room our
features are not visible.

Since Picasso is
essentially a realist painter

he was depicting it as he saw it.

The most important thing about this work

is that it is one of the few pictures
of Picasso's Barcelona studios.

Picasso had many studios in Barcelona

and we see representations from the windows

and from the terraces
of these studio exteriors.

The urban landscapes,
the roofs of Barcelona

are always depicted from
the windows of these studios.

But this is one of the few

that represents the
interior of Picasso's studio

and we see on the floor

a set of squashed paint tubes

that indicates that this was his studio.

In 1900 when he painted this
portrait he was 18 years old.

So he was a teenager who
was opening up to the world.

This search for colour.

This search for freedom.

This search for the explosion of life.

Picasso forged his
artistic identity in Barcelona

and met a lot of artists

poets, critics

and read many magazines.

His eye is formed in Barcelona,

in a Barcelona that is
already very open to Europe

and very open towards Paris.

Picasso first went to
Paris in the autumn of 1900

because one of his paintings

had been accepted at the
Universal Exhibition of that year,

which was the largest ever organised.

It was, of course, a
huge opportunity for him

to finally experience the big
city everybody was talking about.

"Pablo and I go to
café-concerts or the theatre.

They think they're doing Spanish dances...

Olé, olé, caramba, caramba

which left us in doubt about our origins.

The Boulevard de Clichy
is full of crazy places.

Everything is fanfare, tinsel and
papier-mâché stuffed with sawdust.

Tell our friends to come to Paris.

Because there's room for everybody
and money for anyone who works.

Rob, kill, assassinate,
do anything to come."

Carles Casagemas.

In 1900, he made his
first trip to France, to Paris.

He will make many trips
between 1900 and 1904

before settling
permanently in Paris in 1904.

Montmartre was a kind of Spanish colony.

There were many Spanish artists in Paris.

Picasso indeed thought of
himself as a Spanish exile in Paris

so there is a double culture
that resides in Picasso.

He will always remain Spanish.

At the same time he
consumed not only Parisian art

but the entire production
of the avant-garde

taking place in the French capital.

Pablo was born in a very comfortable life.

With his family, he
was a little king at home.

When he came to Paris
he had to face a different life.

He had to struggle to have food,

to live in a very cold place in the winter,

very hot in the summer.

I think that this shows his determination.

We see that Pablo was ready
to experience all the difficulties.

And he did. It was not a problem for him.

This is the first time he leaves Spain.

It's a real adventure.

He's with other artists

but he is effectively now free.

This is Picasso's overwhelming
feeling in the early years.

The freedom with his time.

To be curious about whatever he likes

outside the shackles of
the Academy of Fine Arts.

Now he can focus on everyday subjects

the street, the cabaret, beggars.

When he arrives in Paris
he can't speak French

so he hangs out with
his Spanish compatriots.

And in this period he starts to sign
his notebooks with "Yo, Picasso"

"I, Picasso".

It's already a statement.

He is abandoning his father's
name abandoning the name of 'Ruiz'

and taking the name of his mother

which is less Spanish,
being Italian in origin.

He now has this new identity as 'Picasso'

someone ready to conquer
the Parisian art scene.

"We've already launched into work.

Tomorrow we'll light the heater
and we'll have to work furiously.

Whenever there is daylight

we are in the studio painting and drawing.

We all got together at Petit Poucet

and we all got drunk.

Utrillo wrote nursery rhymes,

Peio sang bawdy songs in Latin,

Picasso made sketches of
people, and I wrote verses."

Carles Casagemas.

"Picasso had a top hat
which was magnificent;

for although he always
had a taste for cheap clothes,

which he bought in workmen's stores,

this was the last touch of refinement:

he is very fastidious and
matches his underpants to his socks

with as much love as he makes a painting.

Everyone recognised that he had a
fire, a real brilliance, a painter's eye.

I spent the day looking at piles
and piles of Picasso's paintings!

He was making one or two each day or night,

and selling them for 150
francs on the Rue Laffitte."

Max Jacob, poet and critic.

You have to consider that
Paris was an exciting place

not only because of
the Universal Exhibition

and the architecture of Paris.

The Eiffel Tower, it was a dream.

It was also important because
it was attracting a crowd

coming from all over the world.

What happened in Paris was that
these references were multiplied.

From a visual point of view

Picasso was strongly impacted.

He was impacted by posters on the streets

by the galleries he could visit

many more than in Barcelona.

Here he could see the
works of the artists he admired

directly on gallery walls.

For example

the greatest influence
on him in Paris in 1900

was Toulouse-Lautrec

because he could go to Moulin
Rouge or Moulin de la Galette.

These were spaces that previously he knew

only through publications

or through the
testimonies of other artists.

Therefore the Picasso who went to Paris

was an artist who changes completely.

"If you were to see us
you wouldn't recognise us

because we've finally
become such hard workers.

All this about women must seem
to take all our strength, but no!

Not only do we spend our lives 'fondling',

but I've almost finished a painting

and, to be frank, I think
I've just about sold it.

Because of this, we are saying
goodbye to the bachelor life.

As of today we are going to bed at
ten and we're not going out anymore."

Pablo Picasso.

The nightlife was much
more exciting than Barcelona.

Reviews, music halls,
cabarets, Pigalle, Moulin Rouge.

You can see it in the artworks.

Pablo moved from the individual
human figures of poor people,

of prostitutes,

to a crowd of rich people enjoying
themselves, spending money

with beautiful women, beautiful dresses.

This is Paris in the 1900s.

I can understand that Pablo would
have walked to Paris to see that.

And there were rumours
that in Paris, in Montmartre,

collectors and art dealers
were attracted by new artists

and new forms of creation.

"Picasso is very young, 19 years old,

and at his age, I doubt if there are
many who have done what he has.

He has very great qualities
but also great defects."

Pere Coll, journalist & critic.

"I can imagine the reaction
of the illustrious bourgeois

upon seeing my exhibition but that
ought to be as important to us as applause,

that is to say, as you already know:

if the wise man doesn't approve, bad;

if the simpleton applauds, worse.

So I'm content."

Pablo Picasso.

"This very young Spanish painter,

who has only recently come among us,

is a passionate lover of modern life.

We think of him as a
lively, inquisitive person,

a keen observer of street
scenes and human adventures.

After a brief glance at his work

we are bound to imagine him
covering the canvas in furious haste,

impatient that he cannot wield the
large, colour-laden brushes faster.

Here we have a new
harmonist of bright tonalities,

with dazzling tones of
red, yellow, green and blue.

We realise at once

that Pablo Ruiz Picasso wants
to see and express everything."

Gustave Coquiot, critic.

At the Picasso Museum in Barcelona

we can clearly see Picasso's evolution.

We can also see the leap
that he made in Paris in 1900.

Picasso made his first trip
with his friend Casagemas

and later Pallarés and
Casas in September 1900

and they stayed four months.

Here Picasso would discover, first-hand

impressionist and
post-impressionist painting.

This greatly influenced his art.

Then Picasso went back
to Spain for a few months

before returning in May 1901

for his first exhibition
in the French capital.

The exhibition was organised by Pere Mañach

a young Catalan art dealer
who Picasso met in Paris in 1900

and who had organised this
exhibition at the Vollard Gallery

along with another
Spaniard, Francisco Iturrino.

When Picasso arrived in Paris

he brought artworks with him

quite colourful but largely Spanish themes

but he needed to make much more work.

He had to produce about 60 paintings

in just 15 days.

Picasso had no money to buy canvases

because canvas is expensive
and it takes time to dry.

So he used cardboard

as it was very cheap and dried fast.

So in the Vollard exhibition

many of his masterpieces
were painted on cardboard

such as this one called Margot, Waiting.

This is a very important work
because we see how Picasso

had already absorbed
all the artistic styles

that had been developed
a few years before in Paris.

For example we see that he mimics
Toulouse-Lautrec's subject matter

and Van Gogh's brushstrokes.

That thick, short brushstroke of Van Gogh.

He also used the colours
of the other impressionists.

We see this set of influences

that Picasso absorbed
to then make his own art.

He is someone who is constantly absorbing

who is very curious

and integrates what he sees
directly into his own work.

He works non-stop

despite his financial difficulties.

We know he sells for very little

a few drawings to an
innkeeper in Montmartre

so that he has enough
money to be able to continue.

We have to imagine
Picasso arriving in Paris

rather poor, as a 19-year-old

and installing himself in a friend's studio

with his friend Carles Casagemas

and it was an intense experience.

Because you had to rely
on a network just for survival.

This is perhaps what makes the
experience of these young modern artists

so special because they
created very strong bonds.

When they came to Paris

there was a big excitement
visiting a new place with new girls,

with a world of entertainment in fact.

But Casagemas had a
natural problem of impotence

so his attraction to women was limited.

Of course, Pablo didn't
have the same problem.

They meet this girl, Germaine.

Casagemas is in love with
her and Pablo is getting her.

And, of course, Casagemas was devastated.

When we think about the
drama of the death of Casagemas,

you have to understand the circumstances.

It was in a café, Germaine
was seated with friends

and suddenly Casagemas came to her.

He had a revolver

and told her, "This is for you,"

and he shot at her.

But he missed her.

He didn't realise because
she fainted and fell on the floor.

Then he said, "This is for me,"

and he killed himself.

When you imagine that Pablo wasn't there,

it's extremely painful to imagine,

but he had to face the death of his friend

and to think that he was
maybe the reason of his death.

So the Blue Period was
fuelled with this tragic moment.

I think that for Pablo it was a struggle

to try to survive the death of his friend.

The one he came to Paris with
and the one who never came back.

"It was while thinking
that Casagemas was dead

that began me painting in blue.

I'm showing what I'm
doing to the artists here

but they think there is
too much soul and no form.

It's very funny.

You know how to talk to people like that;

but they write very bad books
and they paint idiotic pictures.

That's life."

Pablo Picasso.

The reason why Picasso

creates the Blue Period at this time

is that he is searching
for his artistic identity.

He's looking for what
he has to say as an artist

and this very monochrome
treatment of the Blue Period

is one of the first manifestations
of Picasso's artistic identity.

What was known as the Blue Period

began in Paris at the end of 1901

but actually took place in
Barcelona over the following years

with scenes from the centre of Barcelona

where many of the people we see

in Picasso's paintings appear.

It is a city that created

like all large industrial cities

large pockets of marginalisation.

There is an emergence

of extraordinary social contrasts.

These contrasts gave
Picasso extraordinary input

from a creative point of view

which are evident at different moments

in Picasso's creativity

but especially in this Blue Period.

There are portraits of real people

friends of the artist who
are perfectly identifiable.

And there are other works

portraying female
characters of low social class


many of which are recreations

of possible real characters.

Therefore we are not
talking about people that exist

but about concepts.

Picasso was not as interested

in portraying a poor woman

as portraying the concept of poverty.

Therefore, during this Blue Period

there is a real strength to his characters

but they are more symbolic.

These are very symbolist pieces.

Picasso is special in that
he reinterprets his sources

in a very personal way.

La Vie of 1903 is the masterpiece
of Picasso's Blue Period

that was painted in Barcelona

but very much thinking back
to the experience of Paris

with his friend, Carles Casagemas.

It's an allegory of both life and love

and in many ways of an artist,
like Picasso, coming-of-age.

It is very important to emphasise
that during the Blue Period

there was a great contrast
between two types of work.

The major works were devoted

to the great Picasso themes of that period

maternity, the poor, the vagabonds

but, in parallel his smaller works

contained a lot of erotic content

especially around 1903

drawing inspiration
from the bars and taverns

and in particular the brothels

which Picasso frequented

as was very common among young men.

In a way his sexual initiation
occurred in those places.

An example of Picasso's erotic work

is this painting of a
completely naked woman.

It is one of the few full-length nudes

that Picasso painted during this period.

We see a woman who surely

does not correspond to any real model

with long hair

in a posture of proposition

offering her sex, her body.

It is a work that reflects
perfectly the symbolist canons

that were prevalent in
the Blue Period of Picasso.

In 1904, Picasso moved
into a ramshackle building

that, on multiple floors, housed
numerous artists and writers.

This was known as the Bateau Lavoir

as it reminded some of the laundry
boats that were docked on the River Seine.

This was to be Picasso's
home for five years

and it was also where he would
have his first significant relationship.

Picasso's attitude to women was misogynist

but we should also
remember that all these women

were not forced into
relationships with him.

We should understand his
not very healthy relationships

he had with his wives and companions

as part of a broader culture in
which women were often mistreated.

Picasso met Fernande Olivier,
who was a married artist's model,

soon after he moved into the
Bateau Lavoir in the spring of 1904.

And she would be the
muse of some key moments

in the young Picasso's
artistic development.

Her real name was Amélie Lang.

They entered into a kind of relationship

which was both artistic and personal.

I think that Fernande was
a classical muse, in a way,

but also, she was open
to any kind of creativity.

And this was very important.

You can identify a period

because for each period there is a woman.

Fernande Olivier was
the official first one.

You can say, "This is the Fernande
period in his life and in his creation."

It is very interesting

how much there is a link
between Pablo and a subject.

Fernande wrote a book in
1933 about the life of Picasso

in those early years of the 20th century.

According to what she wrote,

it was a very happy life

even though they had a
lot of material difficulties.

She was remembering about
those moments of posing for him,

but also for the moment of the relationship

which was based on a lot of fun,

but also about Pablo's character.

She said that he was
very jealous, locking her up

and being after her in a very jealous way.

"The Spanish painter is
often in front of the door

to the building with his
noisy gang of Spanish artists.

I find them annoying but they
make the square more colourful.

Yesterday the sky was black

and when it broke we
had to rush for shelter.

The Spanish painter had a little kitten
in his arms which he held out to me.

I couldn't resist his magnetism
and went with him to his studio.

It was full of large unfinished canvases.

He must work so hard but what a mess!

Dear God, his paintings are astonishing.

I find something morbid in them,

which is quite disturbing,
but I also feel drawn to them.

The Spanish painter Picasso
adores me with real sincerity,

which I find touching.

He is sweet, intelligent,
very dedicated to his art,

and he drops everything for me.

His eyes plead with me.

If I fall asleep, he's beside
the bed when I wake up,

his eyes anxiously on me.

He doesn't look after himself

and I'm horrified by the
lack of personal cleanliness.

He writes me desperate letters in a French

that is highly imaginative
and quite barbaric.

He doesn't like theatre,
he found it boring,

and he didn't trust his
judgement over classical music.

What he did like was
the guitar, guitarists,

Spanish dancing and gypsy dancers.

Everything that reminded
him of his own country."

Fernande Olivier.

He could be very outgoing

very funny, very kind

and then he could switch character

and become more closed, more introspective.

We find a personality that could oscillate

between these two
very different characters.

In fact, this was true throughout his life.

But at the same time he
was also very professional

and when he was working

he did not allow himself to be interrupted

even during his youth.

Picasso liked to work in the evening

and late at night

sleep in the morning

and continue all afternoon and
evening until four or five in the morning

to work without anyone bothering him.

He kept this modus
operandi throughout his life.

"You already know how lonely I am,

always in the middle of a
commotion and in the midst of a crowd,

which irritates me,

but I'm forced to deal with them
because of interest and necessity.

One has to eat.

But if it were only that!

When you have to arrange
things with other people

and when you want to do something,

it's terrible to be obliged
to waste so much time,

sometimes scrounging for the last peseta

to pay for the studio or restaurant.

And believe me all those struggles
and all this trouble isn't worth it.

It's wasted time."

Pablo Picasso.

If one looks at the Seated Nude of 1905

that is a nude female
portrait of a seated woman

we are clearly at the junction
between the Blue and Pink Periods.

We can clearly see the creative transition

that Picasso is engaged in that year.

We see a very melancholic portrait.

In the elongation of the limbs

and in the monochrome background

we are for the best
part in the Blue Period.

And with the working in of the ochres

then the re-introduction of colour

we are already heading
towards the Pink Period.

When we refer to the Pink Period

it's a little misleading
as there is very little pink.

Indeed there is another
cycle that is much wider

which is that of the acrobats

and lasts from the end of 1904 until 1906.

I think that the transition

between the Blue Period and the Pink Period

is based on two reasons.

First, Pablo was attracted
by the world of circus.

He was visiting the Medrano Circus

and he was seeing a lot of artists

like acrobats, clowns,
harlequins and a lot of colours.

So, of course, it was a
large source of inspiration.

The second reason was because
of art dealers and collectors;

Gertrude Stein, of course,
and Ambroise Vollard.

They were interested in the
new Picasso, so after the poor life,

it was the beginning of a new,
comfortable life for Pablo and Fernande.

Especially because Ambroise Vollard

bought something like 20 paintings

so all this was driving
him to a Pink Period.

A period of happiness.

It is important to say that there
was, let's say, a daily life reason

and an artistic reason.

The key painting of the Pink Period

is Family of Saltimbanques of 1905,

that represents Picasso's
love for the circus,

which he used to attend in Paris,

as well as his intimate
life of that period,

by incorporating references
to his lover Fernande Olivier

as well as his great friend
the poet Guillaume Apollinaire.


Family of Saltimbanques is very important

because we see Picasso
portraying himself as Harlequin,

an apt alter ego for Picasso

because he is a figure of transformation

and someone who, out of rags,

managed to create a
beautiful costume for himself.

There is always something

that connects one phase to the next.

There are strong
connections in all his work.

He was someone who worked tirelessly

and who considered that what
he had to say was in the artworks.

Picasso was always
pondering the same questions.

What is painting?

What am I doing as a painter?

He questions the role of the model.

Political engagement.

One's place in the world.

He is an artist that reflects

what is happening at the time.

And I think it's the mark of great artists

that they produce works that
are both very rich and very open.

Then in the subject matter

he struggles and seeks

to extract substance.

He searches for the essence of things.

In doing so he forces
the viewer to be active too

forcing them to question themselves

to decipher and also to put a
part of themselves in what they see.

But he also draws on an extensive
knowledge of artistic language

and the inter-connection
of all the disciplines.

Don't forget that Picasso
is certainly a great painter

but he is also a major sculptor.

We see the pictorial tradition

the artistic tradition reflected
in many of these works.

Picasso is constantly inspired by

the old masters he saw
in Madrid, at the Prado

but now in Paris, at the Louvre
and the Luxembourg Gallery

in all the galleries of the Rue Laffitte

he's now seeing the
work of his contemporaries.

He is someone who has an eye
that captures absolutely everything.

To me my grandfather, when in Paris,

was not looking at the past.

Even if he saw Renoir or Manet,

this was part of history.

So it wasn't very important
to speak about the past,

but to exchange with
artists about the future.

He was in the process to make
sure that he was purely original.

In the summer of 1906

Picasso went to Spain to see his family

and then continued his journey

with Fernande Olivier, his girlfriend

to Gósol.

Gósol is a very small village
in the Catalan Pyrenees

that is really lost in
the middle of nowhere.

You had to get there by mule.

It was truly an expedition.

It is a village stuck in the past.

It had no electricity, no running water.

It's in the middle of splendid nature

and at the same time very isolated.

It's a landscape of very ochre colours

very dry, very arid

a bit wild.

We are in the process of a homecoming

which is what Picasso is
looking for at that moment.

He had seen the Ingres retrospective

at the Salon d'Automne of 1905

and he reworked these themes

of hair brushing, the harem, the classics.

We can feel a Picasso searching for

the most effective subjects
and places for his work.

We now see a simplification of his work

a simplification of forms

a geometrisation of forms.

His faces gradually become
rigid and turn into full ovals.

We also feel this influence of sculpture.

It will revolutionise the language of form.

In Gósol Picasso
abandons literary subjects.

He is no longer interested
in what he represents.

He is interested in how he represents it.

He is interested in the
representation of the body

but it doesn't matter
if it's a circus artist

or a jester or an acrobat.

The subject disappears.

We see the emergence in his work

of a true modernity of language.

After ten weeks, he and
Fernande headed back to Paris.

It is tempting to over-simplify the
development of an artist's career

but there is no doubt that
those ten weeks spent in Gósol

had been transformative.

For Picasso now began preparations

for one of the most
significant works of his youth.

Indeed one of the most
significant works of his life:

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Pablo visited the Museum of
Mankind at Trocadéro in Paris.

He was a bit lost in this
museum, in the dusty rooms

where there were thousands
of objects from the Colonies,

especially from Africa.

It is how he discovered the masks.

"A smell of mould and
neglect caught me by the throat.

But I forced myself to stay,

to examine these masks,

all these objects that people had created

with a sacred, magical purpose,

to serve as intermediaries
between them and the unknown.

And then I understood
what painting really meant.

It's not an aesthetic process;

it's a form of magic

that interposes itself between
us and the hostile universe,

a means of seizing power

by imposing a form on our
terrors as well as on our desires.

The day I understood
that, I had found my path."

He was impressed because
he was trying to understand

what was the process
because it was frightening.

At the same time, it was
like a kind of protection.

He had seen a mask at Gertrude Stein's home

and remembered that he was
discussing that with Matisse.

And where the other artists were
neglecting this type of civilisation,

he was considering that his
present was a result of the past.

From that moment, he started to observe

what was the simplified
representation of the humankind.

At the same time, he was also trying
to understand how it was possible

to go through the reality of, let's say,
a traditional representation of the face

with the potentiality of
representing faces and profiles.

So it was a kind of exploration in
this period that we call Primitivism.

Primitivism has very much to do with
the encounter with non-Western art.

It includes pre-Classical sculpture,
as well as so-called 'tribal' arts.

All of these examples provided artists

with a different approach to representation

from the one they had learned
through academic training.

"Picasso continued to be
driven by great ambition,

despite the fact that he
was reluctant to exhibit

and never took part in
group exhibitions at that time.

He wanted to create a new kind of art,

and although with his abilities

he could have enjoyed great
success as a traditional artist,

he wanted to be an innovator."

Fernande Olivier.

"Picasso inevitably presented us

with an appearance of the world

which did not conform to the way
in which we had learned to see it.

For the first time in Picasso's work

the expression of the faces is
neither tragic nor passionate.

These are masks almost
entirely free from humanity."

André Salmon, critic.

At this moment in Picasso's career

he is really out to do nothing less

than reinvent the history
of Western painting

in his own aggressively confrontational,

stylistically disjunctive,
provocative terms.

We know he put a lot of
time into planning this work.

We can just see from the size of it

that it is of tremendous ambition

and I think he was intent
on making people stand back

and say I've never seen
a painting like this before.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon started
as a narrative scene set in a brothel,

of two men, a sailor and a medical student,

surrounded by five prostitutes.

In time it became a very iconic
image of five female nudes.

Choosing a canvas of such a size

is significant for an artist at this time.

What he chooses to
represent is a brothel scene.

And it's a brothel scene
that is very confrontational.

The composition is very interesting

since when we look at his studies

we see that Picasso originally planned

to include two male characters.

One was a sailor, a
regular customer of brothels

and the other was a medical student

arriving with a skull.

So it's this omission of
the two male characters

that puts the viewer in
the position of voyeur.

That's very important

since we are now complicit
with what is happening.

One of the characters opens a curtain

and we are caught in the
scene inside the brothel

which was also something
violent at that time.

This is a picture with a
particular erotic charge

that certainly has to do with
the putative brothel scenario.

One of the things I always
notice when I look at this work

is the way that each one of
those figures locks eyes with us.

It's one of the most aggressive
pictures in relation to the viewer's gaze.

Traditionally we would be
staring at objects in a painting;

here these powerful female
figures are staring back out at us.

The title of this painting
is extremely confusing

because first we speak about demoiselles

when they are prostitutes,

and we say Avignon which is a
little town in the south of France.

But you have to refer to the
Carrer d'Avinyó in Barcelona

which was the street
of the brothels and bars.

The very origin

of the title of the work

and the iconography

are from the visits that Picasso

made to brothels in Barcelona.

In a way, it's an iconography

made in France but it takes as reference

the moments and memories of his youth

of the young Picasso
entering such brothels.

The other fact is that Pablo was
not giving titles to his artworks.

It would have been very difficult for Pablo

to give a title for each painting

when you think that he has made
more than 8,000, for example.

But for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon,

the real title should be The
Prostitutes of the Carrer d'Avinyó

which is not very
attractive for a painting.

In fact, the titles were given by
art dealers or people after that.

Then we have the style

which has really shaken things up.

We have strong geometric influences

with liberties taken

in relation to the
representation of the model.

We often talk about
this 'quarter-of-brie' nose

because Picasso has turned the
profile of the nose on to the face.

We see a multiplication of points of view

and it doesn't matter if
the face is a front view

we can still put the nose in profile.

So we have this violence, something new.

Many will question it

be surprised by it

and even reject it.

When he showed Les
Demoiselles d'Avignon to his friends

although they were poets,
avant-gardists and open-minded

the reactions were terrible.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
is a painting that is significant

because of its incorporation

of so-called 'primitive' traditions

into a very classical format.

The change within it was very much prompted

by the reference to
non-Western artistic sources.

First of all, the Iberian
sculpture from Andalucía,

Cerro de los Santos,

and then the African masks

and examples from the modern
primitivist tradition of Gauguin

that Picasso had recently
come to consider in his work.

So Picasso superimposed faces

that were inspired not
only by non-Western art,

but also references to
the art of Paul Gauguin

or Egyptian sculpture

onto the bodies of women that
are posing as classical Venuses.

So this coming together of
Primitivism and Classicism

makes Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

a turning point in the history
of Western art as a whole.

What Picasso succeeds in doing

in the 14 years up to 1907

is indeed a revolution.

He changes the way we see reality.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is the
beginning of what will become cubism.

This way of representing the world

from several points of
view at the same time.

This is a revolution because
since the Renaissance

since the use of perspective

the world has been represented

from a single point of view

constructing different
planes using depth of field

using mathematics

to present reality

as we perceive it

in the most faithful way possible.

Now we have this extra
dimension to the painting

which is its need to be recomposed

in the imagination of the viewer.

In cubism the viewer needs
to intellectually recompose

the complexity of a known object

which if we consider it as a
three-dimensional structure

can't be reflected
exactly on a flat surface.

And that's truly a revolution.

It's very interesting that,
in the space of ten years,

attitudes to the whole
issue of Primitivism in art

and also to Les Demoiselles

changed quite radically.

When Picasso first showed
Les Demoiselles to his friends

they reacted very strongly
and very negatively,

considering it a complete failure.

André Derain even said

that one day they will find
Picasso hanging behind the painting.

Then by 1916, despite the war,

Les Demoiselles had a huge
success in a very fashionable art gallery,

where it was displayed by
the French designer Paul Poiret.

So, we can say that in these ten years

there was an inclusion of avant-garde art

that allowed for Primitivism
and Les Demoiselles

to become fashionable commodities.

It's true, it was not shown
publicly until July 1916,

but it was seen in Picasso's studio

which many, many people passed through.

The legend is that everybody
was shocked and appalled,

but I think when you really begin to look

at the literature and the commentary

that the responses were more mixed.

I think what is, it seems to me,

very true is that this was a picture

that surprised and shocked and upset.

But that isn't necessarily
a pejorative thing;

that's a great thing.

It's a cause for argument
and debate and dissent.

So there's the public showing,
there's the private impact,

there are the artists' studio conversations

and then in the 1920s

one of the young poets
who was a foundational figure

for the surrealist artist,

André Breton, saw this picture

and ended up convincing its first
buyer to purchase it, Jacques Doucet

and Breton then for a whole
generation of artists in the '20s and '30s

he published the
picture, he wrote about it,

he saw it as a watershed

as the picture that took art
beyond painting for the first time.

And then in the '30s it comes to New York

and it is acquired by the
Museum of Modern Art

and it's included in the first
big exhibition MoMA did in 1939

of Picasso's work

and I imagine it's been
on our walls ever since.

One thing I always like to ask
people to do in front of any work of art

and I suppose this one in particular

is to look at it for 30 seconds in silence

and think about what they notice.

I think with this one,

for people who might say,

"Oh, I would rather look at a
Titian or an Ingres or a Delacroix",

then the question I would pose to them

is to hold those pictures
that you love in mind

and look at this one and think,

"Why would Picasso want
to do something so different?

And how is it making me feel?

And what is it that is in
fact different about this?

Why would a painter want to make
something that seems so wilfully ugly,

or grotesque, or discomforting,
or confrontational?"

And I think the more that you do that

the more that this picture
begins to get back to you.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is said to be

the origin of modern art.

It is a confusing consideration

because to me it is
because of its size, of course,

and the innovation of creation.

On the other side, it is
probably a question of marketing

because of the creation of the
Museum of Modern Art in New York

at the beginning of the '30s.

So probably it is not the
first artwork of modern art,

but it is probably the one
which is symbolising at its most.

This is why it is a treasure,

not only for the museum
itself, but for the 20th century.

Picasso is an artist of reference.

Even today so many years after his death

he remains a reference not
only for scholars but for artists.

A great artist, the first
who was able to manipulate

all elements of the media within his reach

who throughout his artistic life

maintained the highest level of output.

He is one of the greatest
references for 20th-century art

and his ability to communicate

made him an absolutely unparalleled artist

known worldwide today.

There are very few artists
whose name or signature

is known as widely as Pablo Picasso.

There is one thing that is very important.

Picasso never tired of experimenting.

He was a man somewhat
dissatisfied with his work

thus always trying to advance

and experiment in new areas.

I think he was always
frustrated with himself.

That's why there's such
an enormous quantity

of ceramics, engravings,
drawings, oil paintings.

I personally calculate about 50,000 works.

It's a whole world, a whole universe

that he has bequeathed to us,

a way to understand the 20th century.

After all, Picasso is the summation
of all that is the 20th century.