Picasso Museum Barcelona : More than meets the Eye… Or Eyes in wrong places!

The highlight of our visit to Spain last summer was to see the Gaudi masterpieces and the Picasso museum in Barcelona. I wanted the kids and Mr. Suburbia for that matter to see Pablo Picasso’s early works and the evolution of the great master of modern art. They know Picasso for the abstract Cubism work where he shatters two dimensional perspective. Our kids have seen them in the Tate Modern at London and a few pieces at the Dallas Museum of Art, where they have fun counting limbs and eyes… crooking their necks in unnatural poses, trying to make sense of it.

Picasso once said ‘Everyone wants to understand painting. Why not try to understand the songs of a bird?  Why does one love the night, flowers, everything around one, without trying to understand them?’

Picasso Museum Barcelona, Photo by Outside Suburbia

Picasso Museum Barcelona

The Museu Picasso is different than most Picasso Museums. It has a large permanent exhibition including Picasso’s childhood sketches, paintings, drawings, and photographs and featuring a biography of the artist that appeals to the kids. It is housed in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona in a 13th century palace – Palau Aguilar, that belonged to the Aguilar family. The central courtyard with the open-air stairway, pointed arch gallery and flamboyant Gothic sculptures dates from the 15th century, the museum looks like a palace than a museum. Picasso lived key years in Barcelona – those of his apprenticeship as an artist. He established and maintained strong links to the city throughout his life and it was here where he wanted his museum to be.

Pablo Picasso is among the pillars of modern society who revolutionized art, it was very inspirational to see his early works and his transitions. I enjoy the modern and post impressionism art and dabble in it once in a while and wanted for my family to appreciate it as well. Picasso’s life and his works reflects his passion for living, I wanted my kids to learn that even if they never understand his painting. One of my favorite Picasso quote is ‘I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.’

Do you believe practice makes perfect, or the magic number of greatness which states, –You need to practice something for 10000 hours to be good at it. Which really applies to everything from art to baseball, school work to SAT tests. That is what we learnt at the Picasso Museum that day. Here is an example – From 1954 to 1962 Picasso was obsessed with the idea of researching and rediscovering the greats, in particular Velázquez. He made a series of renditions of the Velázquez‘ masterpiece, Las Meninas, now displayed in rooms 12–14 at the Museu Picasso. It is as though Picasso has looked at the original Velázquez painting through a prism reflecting all the styles he had worked through until then, creating his own masterpiece in the process. This is was a wonderful opportunity to see Las Meninas in its entirety in this beautiful space.

Picasso’s is known for his quirky but wise quotes that capture his vision and attitude to life that I wanted my kids to learn, here are a couple…

Inspiration does exist but it must find you working.
Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
It took me four years to paint like Raphael but a lifetime to paint like a child.

Museu Picasso Barcelona

Picasso Museum Barcelona

Photographs are not allowed inside the museum, but I requested the museum administration and they shared a couple of the interior pictures.

The Museu Picasso also captured for us the early formative works of the master, Picasso showed a passion and a skill for drawing from an early age. The most important piece is the Man in a Beret which he painted when he was fourteen year old shows his brushstrokes and his ability to portray character and Science and Charity which got him noticed in the art world. There are works that capture loneliness and despair from the Blue period when he was mourning the loss of a friend.  And then the Cheery Rose period when he painted circus people, acrobats in shades of pinks and oranges.  The material from early periods gave our family a thorough impression of the man’s versatility and genius. The later African influenced and abstract and analytical Cubism works had us scratching our heads again trying to understand but also remembering to feel it instead. Picasso wanted for his painting to release the emotion. He is known to have said ‘A painting should be observed, it lives its life when a person looks at it’.

The visit above all gave us a feeling that Picasso was the true original, always one step ahead of himself and anyone else in his search for new forms of expression and he worked hard, and passionately to get there. On that rainy day after the long wait to get in the museum we came back a little wiser knowing passion pulls you forward, we just have to put the effort…

We all know his famous quote,

“When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

Picasso lived key years in Barcelona – those of his apprenticeship as an artist. He established and maintained strong links to the city throughout his life and it was here where he wanted his museum to be. That was why in 1960, on Picasso’s own express wish, his friend and personal secretary Jaume Sabartés proposed the creation of a museum dedicated to the artist’s work to the City Council of Barcelona. By 1963, the museum was a reality and opened its doors in the gothic Palau Aguilar located at number 15 Carrer de Montcada. It is housed in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona in a 13th-century palace – Palau Aguilar, that belonged to the Aguilar family. It has gone through major renovations in the 15th and 18th centuries! The central courtyard with the open-air stairway pointed arch gallery and flamboyant Gothic sculptures date from the 15th century.

Here are a few Photos from the courtyard at the Picasso Museum Barcelona

Picasso : More than meets the Eye

Was the visit transformational? I don’t know yet – not sure if our kids are going to end up as Generals, Baseball legends or Master Artists but certainly hope the Picasso Museum Barcelona visit was an important and inspirational one that makes them passionate about anything and everything they do. It certainly has had that effect on me!

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