Eros, thanatos and life. Paris 1901

Picasso also resorted to the self-portrait as a space in which to project his most intimate reality. These works have more autobiographical overtones than his previous portraits, and many of them were made on modest supports. In contrast with the miserabilist archetype associated with his Blue Period, we now discover a number of openly erotic self-portraits, some of which are set in brothels or feature a procuress. On the other hand, the self-portraits linked to La Vie, his masterpiece of this period, are characterised by Symbolist traits.

The narrative connotations of some self-portraits, such as his anecdotal drawings of his trips to Paris, form a sharp contrast with the formal research he made of the face during his stay in this city. The year 1901 is represented by four works, comprising one of the most outstanding sequences of portraits, ranging from mundane compositions such as Picasso in a Top Hat to other more introspective works like Self-Portrait (Yo), kept in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. During the next few years he would pursue his studies of the face, which culminated in his works of the years 1906–1907.