Picasso exhibited in Paris - HISTORY
Year
1901

Picasso exhibited in Paris

On June 24, 1901, the first major exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s artwork opens at a gallery on Paris’ rue Lafitte, a street known for its prestigious art galleries. The precocious 19-year-old Spaniard was at the time a relative unknown outside Barcelona, but he had already produced hundreds of paintings. The 75 works displayed at Picasso’s first Paris exhibition offered moody, representational paintings by a young artist with obvious talent.

Pablo Picasso, widely acknowledged as the dominant figure in 20th-century art, was born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881. His father was a professor of drawing and bred Picasso for a career in academic art. He had his first exhibit at age 13 and later quit art school so he could experiment full-time with modern art styles. He went to Paris for the first time in 1900, and in 1901 he returned with 100 of his paintings, aiming to win an exhibition. He was introduced to Ambroise Vollard, a dealer who had sponsored Paul Cezanne, and Vollard immediately agreed to a show at his gallery after seeing the paintings. From street scenes to landscapes, prostitutes to society ladies, Picasso’s subjects were diverse, and the young artist received a favorable review from the few Paris art critics who saw the show. He stayed in Paris for the rest of the year and later returned to Paris to settle permanently.

The work of Picasso, which comprises more than 50,000 paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, and ceramics produced over 80 years, is described in a series of overlapping periods. His first notable period–the “blue period”–began shortly after his first Paris exhibit. In works such as The Old Guitarist (1903), Picasso painted in blue tones to evoke the melancholy world of the poor. The blue period was followed by the “rose period,” in which he often depicted circus scenes, and then by Picasso’s early work in sculpture. In 1907, Picasso painted the groundbreaking work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which, with its fragmented and distorted representation of the human form, broke from previous European art. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon demonstrated the influence on Picasso of both African mask art and Paul Cezanne and is seen as a forerunner of the Cubist movement founded by Picasso and the French painter Georges Braque in 1909.

In Cubism, which is divided in two phases, analytical and synthetic, Picasso and Braque established the modern principle that artwork need not represent reality to have artistic value. Major Cubist works by Picasso included his costumes and sets for Sergey Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (1917) and The Three Musicians (1921). Picasso and Braque’s Cubist experiments also resulted in the invention of several new artistic techniques, including collage.

After Cubism, Picasso explored classical and Mediterranean themes, and images of violence and anguish increasingly appeared in his work. In 1937, this trend culminated in the masterpiece Guernica, a monumental work that evoked the horror and suffering endured by the Basque town of Guernica when it was destroyed by German war planes during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso remained in Paris during the Nazi occupation but was fervently opposed to fascism and after the war joined the French Communist Party.

Picasso’s work after World War II is less studied than his earlier creations, but he continued to work feverishly and enjoyed commercial and critical success. He produced fantastical works, experimented with ceramics, and painted variations on the works of other masters in the history of art. Known for his intense gaze and domineering personality, he had a series of intense and overlapping love affairs in his lifetime. He continued to produce art with undiminished force until his death in 1973 at the age of 91.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Eamon de Valera resigns

Eamon de Valera, the world’s oldest statesman, resigns as president of Ireland at the age of 90.The most dominant Irish political figure of the 20th century, Eamon de Valera was born in New York City in 1882, the son of a Spanish father and Irish mother. When his father died two ...read more

King Philip’s War begins

In colonial New England, King Philip’s War begins when a band of Wampanoag warriors raid the border settlement of Swansee, Massachusetts, and massacre the English colonists there.In the early 1670s, 50 years of peace between the Plymouth colony and the local Wampanoag Indians ...read more

Senate passes landmark auto safety bill

On this day in 1966, the United States Senate votes 76-0 for the passage of what will become the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson the following September, the act created the nation’s first mandatory federal safety ...read more

U.S. Air Force reports on Roswell

On this day in 1997, U.S. Air Force officials release a 231-page report dismissing long-standing claims of an alien spacecraft crash in Roswell, New Mexico, almost exactly 50 years earlier.Public interest in Unidentified Flying Objects, or UFOs, began to flourish in the 1940s, ...read more

Senate repeals Tonkin Gulf Resolution

On an amendment offered by Senator Robert Dole (R-Kansas) to the Foreign Military Sales Act, the Senate votes 81 to 10 to repeal the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. In August 1964, after North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked U.S. destroyers (in what became known as the Tonkin Gulf ...read more

Mandela cheers on South African rugby team

On June 24, 1995, South Africa defeats New Zealand in the finals of the Rugby World Cup at Ellis Park in Johannesburg while a special guest looks on: Nelson Mandela, who had become the first president of South Africa to be elected in a fully representational democratic election ...read more

Colorado Governor orders Indians to Sand Creek

Colorado Governor John Evans warns that all peaceful Indians in the region must report to the Sand Creek reservation or risk being attacked, creating the conditions that will lead to the infamous Sand Creek Massacre.Evans’ offer of sanctuary was at best halfhearted. His primary ...read more

Disney pulls album on release day

On June 24, 1997, the Walt Disney Corporation orders one of its subsidiary record labels to recall 100,000 already shipped copies of an album by a recently signed artist—Insane Clown Posse—on the day of its planned release. The issue at hand: the graphic nature of the Detroit ...read more

Pete Hamill is born

Journalist Pete Hamill is born on this day in 1935 to Irish immigrants in Brooklyn. The oldest of a large brood of children, Hamill grew up playing stickball in a blue-collar neighborhood but was fascinated with comic books and novels. With the neighborhood tavern the center of ...read more

Tom Cruise raises eyebrows

The actor Tom Cruise has an infamous interview with Matt Lauer, host of NBC’s morning talk show Today, on this day in 2005. During the interview, Lauer challenged Cruise about critical comments the actor had made regarding the actress Brooke Shields’ use of anti-depressant ...read more

Eastern Flight 66 crashes at J.F.K.

An Eastern Airlines jet crashes near John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, killing 115 people on this day in 1975. The Boeing 727 was brought down by wind shear, a sudden change in wind speed or direction. On the afternoon of June 24, the New York area ...read more

Mail bomb injures Yale professor

On June 24, 1993, Yale University computer science professor David Gelernter is seriously injured while opening his mail when a padded envelope explodes in his hands. The attack just came two days after a University of California geneticist was injured by a similar bomb and was ...read more

Soviets blockade West Berlin

One of the most dramatic standoffs in the history of the Cold War begins as the Soviet Union blocks all road and rail traffic to and from West Berlin. The blockade turned out to be a terrible diplomatic move by the Soviets, while the United States emerged from the confrontation ...read more