Pablo Picasso who is known for his geometric and cubism art began painting at an early age. His first word spoken as a toddler was “piz” the Spanish abbreviated word for pencil “lapiz.” In 1901 at the age of 20 years old, (before he discovered his cubism style), Pablo Picasso went through a stage of painting where his canvases were dominated by blue and grey tones and only occasionally warmed by other colors. This Blue Period lasted until the year 1904.
These blue works had a somber feel to them and were painted in Paris. They are now some of his most popular works, (although he had difficulty selling them at the time). Picasso settled in Paris in 1904, having spent a few difficult years with no fixed studio and little artistic success. His blue period works seemed to reflect his experience of poverty and hardship. These blue and grey works depicted beggars, street urchins, the old, the disabled and the blind.
Picasso may have been influenced by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas, who took his life at a cafe in Paris, France by shooting himself in the right temple (because of a failed love affair) on February 17, 1901. Although Picasso himself later recalled, “I started painting in blue when I learned of Casagemas’s death.”
As an artist myself I don’t think we always know why we paint a certain way or with a particular color. Picasso no doubt was influenced by the people and events around him. The death of a loved one is a pain that is felt deep so I can understand why the color blue (which is the color of skin tone of a deceased person) dominated his paintings for three to four years. I can’t be sure why Picasso painted in these tones but when I view his blue series paintings I can definitely feel the somberness and sadness in them.