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Picasso’s First Exhibition and Artworks

by Tom
Picasso's First Exhibition and Artworks

Pablo Picasso, a painter, sculptor, ceramicist, printmaker, and theater designer, was a man who could be described as someone who had mastered the arts. Picasso, a Spaniard, spent most of his adulthood in France, was a man famed for his unique level of perseverance and distinct style, which had an immense impact on art worldwide. 

Picasso (October 1881 to April 1973) was the leading artist of the 20th century and is famous for co-founding what is known as the Cubist movement. Picasso’s drawings were unlike anything anyone had ever seen at the time, and the quality of his artworks earned him numerous awards and accolades.

Some of the paintings by Pablo Picasso were present during his first exhibition, and they served as the world’s introduction to the famous art of Picasso. In this article, let’s look at some of Picasso’s artworks presented at his first exhibition in Paris in June 1901. The exhibition was titled ‘Becoming Picasso.’

Yo, Picasso

Yo, Picasso, a self-portrait was among the most shocking. It was a bold (and no doubt deliberate) announcement of his entrance into the artistic scene, and it was even featured first in the catalog for the exhibition. Yo Picasso was more innovative and serious in its goal than any other work present in the exhibition. 

It was intended as a presentation work of art to proclaim Picasso’s entry on the global scene, as it was the first work featured in the show book. Yo Picasso, the first of three self-portraits painted that year, was completed in June 1901 and depicted Picasso looking proudly at himself.

Yo, Picasso is the initial one of Picasso’s self-portraits to use his piercing eyes dramatically and is considered to be one of Picasso famous paintings of all time. This may explain the psychological depth of his two other self-portraits from 1901. In retrospect, it’s easy to observe how the experimentation in this intensely personal work paved the way for his Blue Period.

The artist’s exceptional ability to recreate the same intensity of the adolescent Picasso’s eyes and look of resolute self-confidence is perhaps most striking about this piece. Moreover, the confident execution of this work rivals his later brushwork, establishing this stunning sketch as one of the essential records from the early career of the young Spanish artist who desired for the world to know him only by one name: Picasso.

Dancing Dwarfs

Not only because of the dancer’s pugnacious posture and hostile gaze but also because of the painting’s severe confrontational nature. She must have been only curious in the context of a cabaret; in Picasso’s hands, she becomes a hideous and frightening presence. 

Picasso has taken Degas’ ballet dancers and created a purposefully nasty variation. This isn’t simply an appropriation; it’s a violation. Picasso’s unparalleled vivid palette of explosive colors delivers a message of Florida excess and intrinsic viciousness. 

Degas’ shimmering, delicate pastel tones; now, Picasso’s unprecedented lurid palette of explosive colors sends a message of Florida excess and innate viciousness. He sees the Parisian underground as tainted and corrupting, and he revels in it.

The Absinthe Drinker

The culture around this highly intoxicating drink is reflected in his 1901 painting of an “Absinthe Drinker.” Absinthe was popular in France in the 19th century and was supposed to have hallucinogenic effects. The woman is holding a sugar cube used to make the drink. A sugar cube was placed on top of a slotted spoon and melted with water poured on top, giving a milky effect to the drink.

The figure in Picasso’s painting appears alone and alone. She’s sitting in a dimly lit room, highlighting her dissatisfaction with her existence. Picasso emphasizes her escape from reality by adding red highlights to her clothing and facial characteristics. She is engaging in a perilous deed to escape reality. Picasso conveys this notion with short, rapid strokes.

The scene is blurred due to the thick brushstrokes, implying that the observer is likewise inebriated. This draws the audience into the story. The blue hues, off-kilter perspective, and bony hands of the women in the artwork represent the problem of addiction at the time. Her hands, face, and cup are all painted in light hues. The audience is drawn into the picture by the location of her cheek, and the light from the cup attracts the viewer’s attention throughout the painting.

The Blue Room

The image depicted in The Blue Room is of a naked woman bathing. The artwork’s title alludes to the painting’s strong use of blue tones. The depiction of the woman’s bedroom is especially noteworthy since it gives us a glimpse into Picasso’s living quarters at the time. This picture was created in Picasso’s studio apartment at 130 Boulevard de Clichy. The apartment was on the top level and only had two rooms, which was exceedingly small.

The Blue Room depicts the apartment’s interior and the view out the window. The studio was utilized as a living area, a bedroom, and a bathroom, as depicted in the artwork. Picasso’s expanding number of canvases and general disarray in real life is reflected in the apartment’s walls, including a seascape.

Work by Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec impacted the composition, as seen by the poster May Milton (1895) by Toulouse-Lautrec, which hangs on the wall in the painting. The Blue Room was painted by Picasso when he was still a struggling and impoverished artist. Although he was known to be a prolific artist in his teens, purchasers were uninterested in his gloomy blue paintings of destitute people. As a result, he couldn’t afford to buy new canvases for each new concept, so he repurposed old ones.

Le Gourmet

Le Gourmet, one of Picasso’s most recognizable pieces from the Blue Period, features a child scraping the remaining remnants of food from the bottom of a dish. But there is a personal painting of a veiled woman gazing serenely into the distance beneath his blue and cobalt colors. Picasso’s concealed portrait, painted before his blue era, is distinguished by splashes of white paint and other unknown pigments.

We can now see the first drawings underneath a painting’s surface thanks to infrared reflectography. The technology has been around for a long time, and the veiled woman was discovered in the early 1990s. 

Today, John Delaney, a conservator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, used infrared photography techniques to create a film where the woman emerges from the canvas and the child vanishes. Click here to know the latest drawing information.


Picasso’s first sets of artworks are classified as part of a time in his career popularly referred to as The Blue Period. Although paintings by Picasso predominantly featured the blue color in this period, they also revealed how Picasso was very confident in his abilities. This first exhibition contains some of the most famous Picasso drawings and paintings and sets the tone for a highly successful career.

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