Pablo Picasso doesn’t sound like a French name. That’s because it’s not. Pablo Picasso spent most of his artistic life in Paris. However, Barcelona was his home during his artistic formative years. Hence, you shouldn’t be surprised to find a Picasso Museum in Barcelona. And there is. (Click here for its website.)
(There is also a Picasso Museum in Paris. This blog post is not about that one. If a search engine sent you here when you were looking for the Paris Picasso Museum, sorry about that. Click here for the Paris museum.)
First an apology: You won’t find any pictures of the museum’s artworks on this page. There were signs in Barcelona’s Picasso Museum telling me not to take pictures inside.
If you were asked to name two stereotypical traits of Canadians (I’m Canadian) the top two that come to mind are likely polite and obedient. Not wanting to shatter any stereotypes, I was obedient. So I didn’t take any photographs of the artwork.
(I was , of course, not just obedient, but also polite. It’s a little known fact that the Canadian government strips Canadians of their passports and forbids them to travel again if they’re caught being impolite in a foreign land.)
Normally, when I’m told I can’t take pictures inside someplace, that place doesn’t get included in this blog. My attitude is, screw ’em if they’re going to be that unaccommodating. However, it’s Picasso. It’s a museum devoted to his works. It’s in Barcelona. How could I not write a post after visiting? Besides, I wanted to fill some space in this blog in the vain hope that it will attract a visitor or two.
Due to the restriction on picture-taking, the pictures on this page are all of the entrance to the gallery and the stone-walled foyer*. The aforementioned no-pictures-allowed signs were beyond the foyer.
Picasso Museum Entrance
From the outside, the entrance to the Picasso Museum looks like nothing. That was an incredibly stupid thing to say, wasn’t it? How can it look like nothing? What does the vacuum of space look like?
What I meant to say is that it did does not look special or stand out from its surroundings.
There’s a wide entry portal that is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. Fortunately, the guidebook I used told me that was the location. Plus the museum was pinned on the GPS-based map on my iPhone. Otherwise, like I said, I probably would have missed it.
In fact, I did miss it. But when the little blue dot on the map on my iPhone showed me I walked past it, I turned around and found it. (There is a sign marking the Picasso Museum. But I tend to walk around in a daze most of the time. Plus, I was concentrating on the map on my iPhone. I’m not sure technology is always a blessing.)
All Picasso Periods
Barcelona’s Picasso Museum displays works from all of Picasso’s artistic periods. This includes those years when he was not in Barcelona. However, as one might expect, the works he completed in Barcelona are overrepresented in the museum.
Several of the first rooms in the museum display works from his early period in Barcelona. These didn’t look like what you think of as Picasso. That is to say, they didn’t look like what I thought of as a Picasso painting. I thought he painted only people with absurdly angular noses and/or an unusual number of eyes.
In contrast, the paintings from his early period were mostly realistic portraits and landscapes. Many of the subjects in the portraits had very dark and somber visages.
Vibrantly Dreary Landscapes
Some of Picasso’s landscapes from this period were, to my eye, also gloomy. However, the audio guide the museum provided described the colours in those landscapes as “vibrant.” Huh? They didn’t look the least bit vibrant to me. Maybe that’s why I’m not an art historian or curator.
These rooms also included a painting of Picasso’s dog. And there were a few paintings of events, such as a first communion.
There was also a painting of a doctor, nun and a small child at the bedside of someone who appears to be dying. For that painting, a video screen on the audio guide showed me X-rays of the painting. They depicted the underlying sketches that Picasso drew as a starting point before painting over them. Cool.
Picasso’s Paris Period
Rooms farther on in the museum displayed works from Picasso’s time in Paris. These paintings used much brighter colors than the earlier pieces. These rooms also delved into his “blue” and “rose” periods. The naming of those periods denoted the dominant colors in the paintings he completed in each of them.
The galleries beyond those featured Picasso’s cubist period. The cubist paintings were mostly portraits composed primarily of muted cubes and other pure shapes. You have to work hard to realize they’re portraits. Or, at least, I had to work hard at it. You might be more cultured and imaginative than I am. Then again, a member of the Cornu aspersum species—a common garden snail—is more cultured and imaginative than I am.
Another room included decorated ceramics by Picasso, as well as a bronze statue he sculpted.
Yet another room held paintings that were not quite realistic, but I didn’t have to work hard to determine what they depicted. This room also displayed a number of Picasso’s studies of pigeons.
Finally, in one of the last galleries of the Picasso Museum, I found paintings in the style that I think of as stereotypical of Picasso. They sported wild colours and exceedingly angular faces, with skewed and otherwise misshapen eyes that were not necessarily on the same plane as the rest of the face or of the anatomically correct number.
Ah! Picasso! Finally.
Apropos of nothing, many Americans pronounce foyer as “foy-yur.” We English-speakers stole the word foyer from the French. It’s pronounced “foy-yay.”
I’m a unilingual Canadian Anglophone, but I still know roughly how to pronounce the word. If you’re an American and pronounce it “foy-yur,” please stop. It’s annoying. Don’t make me come down there and try to hurt you. I’m way too old for that and, even in my younger years, I was never in good enough shape to hurt anyone. Thanks.