Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pablo Picasso, The Death of Casagemas

Pablo Picasso, The Death of Casagemas, 1901
10.63x13.78 in.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is best known for his revolutionary use of cubism, but he explored many different styles before he found that technique.  This painting was done during Picasso's famous Blue Period, and depicts his friend, Casagemas.  Carlos Casagemas was a friend and fellow art student in Barcelona who moved to Paris with Picasso.  In 1901 Casagemas shot himself over an unrequited love.  This painting is fascinating in its depiction of the event.  Casagemas is shown as only a head, separated from his body, an implication of his role as a man of creativity and ideas, but the gunshot wound to the head is quite visible.  Picasso was unable to memorialize his friend without alluding to his violent death, also suggested by the sickly green color of his skin.  To me the most interesting element is the candle.  This bright flame, often a symbol of knowledge, gives off light of such bright and unnatural colors.  I believe this represents the unusual and creative ideas that Casagemas had and that he inspired in Picasso.  Ultimately this is a memorial painting, meant to pay tribute to Casagemas, to celebrate his importance in Picasso's life and artistic development, and to immortalize his brilliance, beauty, and creativity.

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