Picasso Museum of Barcelona

Barcelona City Council

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  • Picasso: Indoor and outdoor landscapes

    • Date 26/10/99 to 31/1/00
    • Landscapes are a recurrent subject in Picasso’s formative years, but as his contacts with the avant-garde became more frequent, he moves away from descriptions of the exterior, which are replaced by interior space.

    • Display information

      His “interior landscapes” become the alter ego of exterior places, and the artist makes landscapes of his studios. His work often becomes the occupant of these spaces, with which the artist maintains a fluent conversation that demonstrates iconographically how his creative style is developing. The confrontation between the exterior landscape and the interior-atelier is the discourse on which this exhibition is based, and it is the thread that guides us through the plot of this dialogue which Picasso established between the description of the exterior and his personal universe.

      Exhibition Sections:

      • 1917-1920. The Window: Link between Reality and the Imagined
      • 1920-2936. From the atelier to plein air
      • 1937-1955. From the Solitude of the War Years to the Splendour of the Midi
      • 1955-1960. La Californie: The Twentieth Century Studio
      • 1959-1970. Last Look at Tradition


      Between 1917 and 1920, Picasso opened up his painting stylistically and conceptually. Cubism, which he had worked on insistently between 1908 until then, gave him an alternative to classicism, although both styles exist alongside each other during the entire 1920s. The window as an artistic motif takes the lead and is an aid to create new spatial relations between interior/exterior. At the same time, it is on the link between what is real and what is idealised.

      In 1917, from his studio in Rome, he described the Villa Medici while he prepared the set decorations for Parade, a ballet for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. In Barcelona, a few months later, an open window at the hotel Ranzini leads us into the Passeig de Colom in an oil painting that was the decisive introduction to the series of open windows. These windows are repeated in the following years in the drawings and oil paintings done in Saint-Raphäel and Paris, in which he paints still lifes in the language of Cubism, while classicism defines exterior landscapes.


      Towards 1920, classicism took the lead in a group of interior landscapes of the house in which he lived with his wife Olga in Paris. He alternated these with small oils of exteriors.

      In 1925, his studio became the main subject in the interior landscapes that the artist developed with a total symbiosis between Cubism and classicism, where the new expectations advocated by surrealism were part of the mixture. This was period of the artist’s maturity, which allowed him to work with flexible, thematic, formal and conceptual language with absolute freedom and fullness.

      The summers of 1928 and 1929, enabled the change from studio to plein air with complete naturalness, as had happened in Biarritz, Saint-Raphäel, Juan-les-Pins and Port Antibes. His meeting Marie-Thérèse Walter meant that figuration in the form of a new female subject was introduced into his work. More convincing voluptuous shapes with more volume and curves, having a very powerful erotic component, and shown in a thousand ways were now begun. This work was the first step to the establishment of the sculpture studio at the Boisgeloup castle.


      The Spanish Civil War and Second World War involved a new iconographic change in Picasso’s work. He did not interpret facts, nor did he render war, rather he bore witness to the conflict by using signs and symbols that are turned into allegorical landscapes, underlining the harshness of the events.

      In parallel, a group of interior landscapes show the vigour of his experiments, and windows reappear as a link between the interior and exterior space.

      In 1946, he returned to the Midi, where two years later he bought the villa, La Galloise. He then painted mythological subjects with interior and exterior views of his own residence, in which the painter and his model are filled with the joie de vivre.


      In 1955, Picasso and Jacqueline Roque went to live in the villa La Californie, in Cannes. He transformed a large room on the ground floor of the Belle Époque mansion into a studio and he made it the subject matter of many of his works. The studio soon became the perfect setting to re-create the subject of the painter and his model in all its variations. At that time, his return to the subject of the studio was his way of giving posthumous tribute to Matisse, who had died shortly before.

      Between August and December 1957, Picasso set up a new studio, in which he built a dovecote, on the second floor of the mansion in a room with a large balcony with views of the bay in Cannes. For a long time, Picasso had been a painter of painting; he believed that painting from the past was a motif like any other, and that is what he demonstrated during years of interpretative frenzy. He worked on Velázquez during these months. He began working on Las Meninas -the studio par excellence-in an intense and obsessive manner, as if he were doing laboratory research. Picasso’s interpretation shows great respect for the original work, although he brought its aesthetic language up to date. New Meninas were born, Las Meninas by Picasso: Las Meninas of the twentieth century. From the palace studio of the Habsburg court to the dovecote studio of La Californie, from the interior landscape of Velázquez to the interior landscape of Picasso, which projects us from the open balcony of the dovecote to the exterior landscape of the bay of Cannes.

      1959-1970. A LAST LOOK AT TRADITION

      After Las Meninas, Picasso continued to centre his interest in the tradition of painting with Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Manet, which enabled him to place his work in an exterior landscape. His exhaustive creative process reveals his thoughts about the bathers in Cézanne’s paintings.

      Beginning in 1963, the subject of the painter and his model, with all its variations, re-emerged with vigour and took the studio as a setting. He brought this subject up to date, a subject that he had treated with greater or lesser interest throughout his life, and it was when using this theme that he unburdened all his existential anxieties. At the end of his life, Picasso wanted to penetrate the essence of what it meant to be a painter. He alternated between interior landscapes and the exterior landscapes of his surroundings: Vauvenargues, Mougins.

      In the last years of his life, in old age, a revitalised artist who was young in spirit sprang forth. His painting is the result of experiments that lead him to employ a rough, thick, direct brushstroke. The landscape merges with the human figure, giving an optical effect that challenges the spectator, and brings his work to a close. This is the last Picasso.

      The exhibition concludes with a collection of pictures taken by the photographer, David Douglas Duncan, that makes the friendship between Duncan and Picasso clear, as well as the fruitful relationship that existed between the journalistic photographer and art. In these pictures, Picasso in his studio, his stays in La Californie and Vauvenargues, and his work as a ceramist are especially admirable. Thus, Duncan’s photographs can be considered as a “certificate” of the artist’s activity.

  • Raoul Dufy. 1877-1953

    • Date 30/4/99 to 11/7/99
    • The exhibition aims to reconsider Dufy from the beginning of his career at the turn of the century to his last “black paintings”, including the exciting Fauve period, with more than fifty painting, drawings, and engravings, as well as ceramics, fabric and furniture designs.

    • Display information

      This exhibition was jointly prepared by the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and the Picasso Museum of Barcelona, and it was the artist’s first retrospective exhibit in France for more than twenty-five years.