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Pablo Picasso’s Rose Period

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Pablo Picasso Ruiz’s art from 1904 to 1905 is classified under the title, The Rose Period. Misleadingly, the colors in the rose period are not exclusively rose or light pink in color, but also include greens, blues, and reds. This brief period of increased color comes after a time when Picasso depicts his subjects with a lack of coloration, mainly in monochrome blue which gave it the name “The Blue Period”. Although the colors of the rose period were brighter and more cheerful, there was much less emotion in the works, due to Picasso’s subject matter.

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Picasso chooses the travelling circus as a subject, and he delves into their world of cheer and oddity. Throughout the blue and rose periods Picasso is never stationary, moving to countries in direct proportion to his studios. The nomadic life of circus performers and also their position in society fascinated Picasso. As entertainers they must always put on a show, but beneath their acts are real people unknown to anyone but to themselves and those close to them.

If they do not entertain, they are not paid, as are artists.

Many of the rose period paintings depict circus performers and Saltimbanques, or travelling acrobats, in placid scenes, each of them distant from each other. For example, In Two Acrobats and a Dog (1905), he represent’s two young acrobats before an undefined, barren landscape. Although the acrobats are physically close, they gaze in different directions and do not interact, and the reason for their presence is not made clear. Differences in the acrobats’ height also exaggerate their disconnection from each other and from the empty landscape.

In one of the rose period’s best known works, The Saltimbanques Family, (1905) each character in the painting is isolated from the others, again symbolizing the loneliness and independence Picasso saw and identified in the performers. The harlequin holding the little girl’s hand (who is Picasso) stares completely horizontally off to the right. The little girl is looking down at her basket of flowers. The young boy, acrobat, and woman stare diagonally out to the right and the red capped jester is the only person looking towards the left.

Unlike paintings from the blue period, the figures in The Saltimbanques Family, do not blend in harmoniously with the background, adding to the affect of alienation on the part of the subjects. Juxtaposing The Saltimbanques Family with another family painting done by Picasso induces even further insight. A good painting to look at is Picnic on the Grass (1903) which depicts the The Soler Family. The Soler Family was painted during Picasso’s blue period which is evident in the blue monochromism of the clothing the children and man and woman are wearing.

Unlike The Saltimbanques Family, The Soler Family’s faces are all centered towards the viewer, showing their sense of family and togetherness. Paradoxically, the rose period is a time of consistency for Picasso as he was selling a good number of paintings, and was in love and living with a woman named Fernande Olivier, his mistress. As a result it is possible that Picasso’s art based on the circus interestingly parallels his odd contentment.

He chooses to paint the supposedly carefree clowns and acrobats not in their merriment but with a serene tranquility, while in his tranquility he wants to be engulfed by the festivities of the circus. In The Death of a Harlequin, (1905) a deceased circus performer is lying on a bed mourned by what looks like his wife and son. The dead man s face is peaceful, and his hands are lightly formed almost in prayer. The other two characters have similar facial features to the harlequin but their full bodies are not visible, notably the child who is only seen from the neck up.

The colors are very light, with emphasis on the pallor of each person s face. With exception to the harlequin s collar, sleeve, and a patch of circus color on his shoulder, he blends in entirely with the background of the painting. Another similar painting is the Family of Acrobats with a Monkey. (1905) The title may not seem contradictory but a glimpse of the work is not what one would expect. There are three people and one monkey all seated in a lightly colored room. All the characters including the monkey are very calm and pristine, sharing the moment together.

The focus of the painting is on the child in the center in the mother’s lap. Both the monkey and the man curiously have similar postures. At first glance it appears the man is reaching to touch his child when he is actually resting his right. Similarly the monkey is resting an outstretched hand on its lower leg peering at the child whose view is back at the person observing the painting. To emphasize the difference in the rose period, one only has to view works made one or two years prior. The Old Guitarist, (1903) is a portrait of an impoverished and blind man playing guitar at the foot of a door.

Unlike the Family of Acrobats with a Monkey, or the Death of a Harlequin, the man in the Old Guitarist has an emotional expression that is parrallel to his situation which is that of despair. His hair swirls about his head and down into his sideburns into a sporadic white beard. His blind gaze is affixed in the floor as his right side slopes down as well, accentuating his left shoulder where his bony frame is protruding his ripped shirt. The face of the man shows endured suffering, a person forced to play an instrument in order to survive. The color is equally dark.

The man’s scant clothing is blue, as is his skin that resembles the hue of spoiled foods or mildew, blue-green, as is the wall behind him. The brevity of the rose period is remarkable in that this style of Picasso was only a little offshoot of his creative fancy. In light of the natural human tendency to gravitate towards others that share similar lifestyles or experiences, the rose period makes logical sense. Picasso himself is an individual among other artists, similar to his harlequin character in The Saltimbanques Family, he looks his own way.

Cite this Pablo Picasso’s Rose Period

Pablo Picasso’s Rose Period. (2016, Oct 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/pablo-picassos-rose-period/

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