van gogh blue period
The Artist’s Sister Lola (ca. 1899-1900) (Photo: The Athenaeum)
Acrobat and Young Harlequin (1905) (Photo: UGA via Wikipedia)
After 1901, Picasso was plagued by depression. It was during this time that he continued his blue period with Self Portrait, in which Picasso has painted himself looking desolate, with an unkempt beard and hardened expression. Although he had experimented with the blue palette in The Death of Casagemas, this is generally accepted as the first painting of the blue period series.В В
Looking closely at The Old Guitarist, it is possible to make out the faint, ghostly figure of a woman. Just above the guitaristвЂ™s neck, eagle-eyed viewers might be able to see the outline of a womanвЂ™s face. However, she is one of three figures that are hidden within the blue tones of The Old Guitarist.
Picasso’s depression didn’t end with the beginning of his rose period, which succeeded the blue period and in which the color pink dominates in many of his paintings. In fact, it lasted until the end of his cubist period (which followed the rose period) and only in the period thereafter, which was his neo-classicist period, did Picasso’s work begin the show the playfulness that would remain a prominent feature of his work for the rest of his life. Picasso’s contemporaries didn’t even distinguish between a blue and a rose period but regarded the two as one single period.
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 Two sisters is an example of how Picasso used to mix daily reality with Christian iconography. 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.
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The Dutch master clearly skewed toward darker hues earlier in his work, with a dominant blue stripe appearing around 1883 that springs into a transition of lighter shades. A look at his life doesn’t suggest any particular rhyme or reason if we go with the simplistic route of automatically assuming colors equate mood. (Looking at you, Picasso.) His first major work, The Potato Eaters, which is bleak and dark, doesn’t appear until 1885. Likewise, Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, equally grim (or grimly comedic), only arrives after 1885 as well, both during van Gogh’s transition away from brighter colors once again. (1885 is also when van Gogh’s father unexpectedly died of a heart attack. Correlation or coincidence? No one can tell.)
This is, perhaps, the first period in the work of Picasso, in relation to which we can speak about the individuality of the creator, despite the still sounding notes of influence. The first creative uplift was provoked by a long-lasting depression: February 1901 in Madrid Picasso learned that his close friend Carlos Casagemas had died. It constituted the ground for the Blue period. Picasso later recalled: вЂњI started painting in blue when I learned of Casagemas’s deathвЂќ.
However, at his first Paris exhibition for Vollard in June 1901, there was no blue in his paintings: 64 bright and sensual works with a noticeable influence of the Impressionists. The Blue period was gradually coming into its own: the objects were sharply-contoured, the artist no longer strived to make three-dimensional images and, eventually, abandoned the tradition of perspective drawing. His palette became less diverse, the accents of blue more visible. The “Portrait de Jaime Sabartes”, which was created in 1901, marked the beginning of the Blue Period. When Sabartes saw the finished work he was вЂњastonished to realize what inspired his friend to create this paintingвЂќ, – вЂњit is the specter of my solitude seen from the outsideвЂќ.