The Picasso Museum – the artist and Barcelona

Plaza Real, Barcelona

Pablo Picasso Facts
-Pablo Picasso’s full name was actually 23 words long!
-Fittingly, the young Picasso’s first word was ‘pencil’
When the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911, Picasso was questioned as a suspect by the police.
Picasso’s first exhibition was hosted in the back of an umbrella store.

One Sunday afternoon I went to the Picasso Museum, one of Barcelona’s most visited tourist attractions. In summer I generally prefer going to the beach, but on a day when the sky was covered it seemed to be a good alternative. Indeed it is located in the heart of the El Born area and in one of the most characteristic alleyways of Barcelona: Montcada street. But what exactly are the links between the artist, Picasso and the Catalan capital, Barcelona? Are they limited to his frequenting the famous beer-house Els Quatre Gats, where the main exponents of Catalan modernism were to be found?

What can you- and moreover, can’t you- see in the museum?

Picasso and Barcelona

Picasso was born in Malaga on the 25th October, 1881, and died in Cannes in 1973. The links between the artist and the city of Barcelona can be understood by a quote from Picasso himself: “Here [Barcelona] is where it all began…this is where I realised where I could get to”. During his long and eclectic career, as well as having had many lovers and wives, he came to be influenced by innumerable artistic trends amongst which the most notable are Catalan modernism, cubism, surrealism and expressionism. His research into new stimuli and experiences were almost certainly as a result of the rigidity of his education in the Fine Arts School in Llotja from 1893 to 1899, in the vicinity of Barcelona. Not by chance, one theme that would follow him throughout his career would be the landscape as seen from a window, which symbolises his desire for escape.

scienza e carità 1897 Paseo de Colón, 1917
The Museum

The museum is located in 5 buildings, which date back to the XIII-XIV centuries and are excellent architectural examples of Catalan gothicism. The museum opened to the public in 1963, thanks to donations given by Picasso himself, as well as his friend Jaume Sabartés, and boasts of more than 3800 works in its permanent collection. There aren’t just paintings, but also lithographs, sketches, incisions and ceramics which testify to the fact that Picasso was indeed a complete artist. The museum is notable for early works, amongst which rare examples of paintings upon a religious and social theme stand out, such as “First Communion” and “Science and Charity”, as well as the full “Meninas” series: studies and interpretations of the famous work by Diego Velázquez.

Margot 1901

Ritratto di Sabartes 1939

The museum also holds a rich and full program of temporary exhibitions. For example, an exhibition called Picasso Looks at Degas is currently on show, and this is an exploration of Picasso’s fascination with the works of French artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

My Day At The Museum

I expected to be able to admire many of the painter’s famous works. However, I was disappointed, given that you could almost count on the fingers of one hand the number of paintings dating from his blue and pink periods, which are among his most famous. Certainly, visiting the museum gives us a more complete idea of Picasso’s evolution and his artistic links with the Catalan city. It is also nice to be able to recognise some parts of the city in the artist’s earlier works, including “Barceloneta Beach” and “El paseo de Colón”; “Calle de la Mercé”, where the artist lived, and “Calle de la Riera”, where he had his studio at the beginning of the 1900s. Moreover, my doubts regarding his artistic talent were quashed upon viewing his works as a young artist. Everything considered, the thing that interested me above all was the contrast between Velázquez’s work “Las Meninas” and Picasso’s studies. Actually, in the last section of the museum there is an enormous screen upon which you can see, in detail, how Picasso, even whilst maintaining the volume and personality of the characters, manages to render them more modern and ‘Picasso-esque’. In order to be able to see this contrast, you will however need to arrive prior to 19:30, otherwise a gruff security guard will have pulled the plug upon what is the most interesting part of the display.

las meninas 1957 las meninas infanta Maria 1957

 

In conclusion, it is certainly worth visiting the museum in order to gain a fuller insight into Picasso’s art. If you are expecting to be able to admire the more famous works from his blue and pink periods, you may leave a little disappointed. However, there is still a plethora of impressive pieces on show and this should satisfy anyone interested in learning about one of the wrold’s most famous artists.
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Address
Picasso Museum:Via Montcada, 15-23
MAP

View Picasso Museum in a larger map

Picasso Museum official website
Picasso’s works

How to get there:
metro L4 image : Jaume I
metro L1 image : Arc Triumfo

Opening Hours
Tuesday-Sunday 09.00-19.00 (entrance up to 18.30)
Thursdays 09.00-21.30
Mondays (not bank holidays)- closed

Ticket prices
Combined ticket (museum and temporary exhibition): 14€; reduced rate* 7.50€
Ticket for Main Collection only: 11€; reduced rate*7€
Ticket for temporary exhibition: 6.50€; reduced rate* 4.50€
*Under 25 years of age, over 65 years of age, pensioners, job-seekers or large families

Free entrance to museum
Every Sunday afternoon as of 15.00
The first Sunday of the month: all day
Open days: 12th February, 18th May, 24th September

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