Paving the way to the mask

Picasso's production prior to 1907 was crucial in his career, for it coincided with the storm of modernity symbolically established in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. The assimilation of new references and the continuous development of his pictorial language were translated into his self-portraits. His depictions of himself as a bohemian and a Harlequin made between 1904 and 1905 are a caesura that marks his distancing from the imitative quality of the genre. In 1906 the process that led to his primitivising style and his interest in ancient art, particularly Iberian, would be summed up by his simplification of shapes and masking of the face. The year 1906 proved to be a critical year in which Picasso produced a number of works that shared stylistic traits, as exemplified by the iconic 1907 Self-Portrait in the Národní galerie, that heralds a new pictorial language and is a prelude to the disappearance of the traditional self-portrait in the years to come.