"Picasso arrived in France just a few days before his nineteenth birthday, speaking no French and having no place to stay...." Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer, New York, 1988
Pablo Picasso's traveling companion to Paris during this first visit to the cosmopolitan capital of La Belle France was Carles Casagemas, also a painter, and his flat-mate in Barcelona. It was an unlikely friendship between two very different young men-- one reserved and a son of prosperous diplomats, the other an extroverted carouser rarely shy in the face of either beauty or wine...
|Death of Casegamas, 1901|
|The Greedy Child, 1901|
He and Casegamas returned home to Spain but Casegamas found himself drawn back to Paris, enticed by the charms of a model named Germaine Gargallo. She did not see him as the centerpiece of her future, sadly, and Casegamas dramatically (and publicly) chose to end the affair by executing himself with a single bullet to the head at the Cafe Hippodrome as he dined with Germaine on the evening of 17 February 1901...
|Blue Nude, circa 1902|
|Naked Woman with Dripping Hair, 1902|
Art historians and biographers tell us that Picasso was in Madrid when he learned of his friend's death. Young Pablo (like the old Pablo) moved through life like a bull in a china shop or a force of nature-- depending on your preferred cliche. He'd faced the cruelty of the Grim Reaper before, in 1895, when diptheria claimed the life of Conchita, his seven year old sister. The trauma deeply affected his family-- after the loss of his young child, Picasso's father no longer wished to live in the town of A Coruna where he taught at the School of Fine Arts. Taking a similar position in Barcelona, he took his family with him...
|The Old Guitarist, 1903|
For the next few years, Picasso traveled back and forth between Barcelona and Paris, grappling with Casegamas' suicide and deep personal poverty in cities that delighted the senses of even jaded rich men, sinking ever deeper into depression as arbiters of artistic taste failed to recognize his talent and he was forced to burn his own canvases in the fireplaces of shabby apartments if he hoped to survive the brutal winter cold...
|The Blind Man's Meal, 1903|
|The Tragedy, 1903|
Yet his intellect remained restless. Through his friend Max Jacob, Picasso met many of the men and women who transformed the literary and artistic world of France during the early years of the 20th Century. He was a master of realistic drawing and continued to paint in a fashion influenced more by Spanish tradition than revolutionary French ideas-- but there was a subtle difference emerging in his work: Picasso's mind now guided his hand toward experiments with form and color...
These were his Blue years...
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Note: Information for this essay is taken primarily from readily available sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia, and almanacs. When other sources are employed they are credited either in the text or as follows: none. All photographs are taken from Wikipedia or Google Images without source or authorship credits available, except as noted: none.