Picasso is arguably one of the most famous artists ever, which is one of the reasons that the Picasso Museum in Barcelona is so popular. While he may be best known for his cubist paintings, you won’t see these in this museum. I really enjoyed my visit because it really helped me learn more about Picasso’s life and appreciate what an incredible artist he really is.
Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside the museum, so all the pictures in this blog post are Picasso’s work that I have seen at other museums.
The Picasso Museum is located in the El Born area of Barcelona. We really enjoyed the walk to the museum. We passed several nice pieces of art on our way. I didn’t even realize when we arrived at the museum because it just fits in so well in the neighborhood, but then I saw the line to get in and knew I was at the right place.
I highly recommend buying a ticket in advance to avoid the line. The advance tickets are for a timed entry so you need to plan ahead. The museum is open late Thursday evening until 9:30pm and closed on Mondays. On the first Sunday of the month and every Sunday after 3 pm, the museum is free. However, I would expect the line to be worse than normal during those times.
Picasso’s Life Story
To fully appreciate the museum, it is a good idea to know a little bit about Picasso’s life. Picasso was born in Malaga but lived in Barcelona from age 14 to 23. Then he moved to Paris. While in Paris, his best friend, Carlos Casagemas, also an artist, committed suicide. That marked the beginning of the Blue Period, where the dominant color in his paintings reflected his mood. After four years, he found a steady girlfriend, Fernande Olivier, who helped him see the world through rose-colored glasses and the Rose Period began.
Then at age 25, Picasso developed the painting style we now call Cubism. In cubism, the subject is vaguely recognizable, almost like you are seeing it through a kaleidoscope. After he married his first wife, Olga Kokhlova, and had a son, he entered the Classical Period. During this time, he painted more realistic people. People were always Picasso’s favorite subject.
When the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, Picasso left his wife and Paris behind to head to the south of France. During this time, his paintings were sunny, light-hearted and childlike. He also experimented with collages using all kinds of materials. These types of pieces may be common now but were quite revolutionary at the time. His last works have the spirit of someone much younger. As it is often said about Picasso, “When he was a child, he painted like a man. When he was old, he painted like a child.” He definitely lived a fascinating life and I want to learn more about him. You can see how his life and what he was going through impacted his art. His life would make a great Lifetime movie. Antonio Banderas would be my pick to play Picasso.
Artwork in the Picasso Museum
The artwork in the museum is arranged generally in chronological order, with a heavy focus on his early works. I knew the museum focused on his earlier works but I had no idea that meant paintings from when he was 14! It really surprised me that any 14 year old could paint such realistic portraits. In the one of his more famous paintings “Science and Charity”, the doctor is modeled after his father. I really like the perspective trick that Picasso used in this painting. If you walked back and forth, the bed would shrink and grow. He featured his father and mother in several other paintings too.
The paintings from the Blue and Rose periods really showed his emotions at the time. The Blue paintings were dramatic and depressing. The Rose paintings were very sexual. It was also interesting to see the sculptures of Fernande Olivier, who made such a difference in his life. I wonder what ever happened between them, you can tell they had a very passionate and intense relationship. They were together for seven years and apparently 20 years later, she actually wrote several articles for a Belgian paper about it. Would’t those be interesting to read?
We also really enjoyed the paintings that Picasso did Diego Velazquez’s painting Las Meninas. Picasso was fascinated with the piece from the 17th century and painted 40 different interpretations, many that are on display at the museum. Some were black and white, others had bold colors and all were large. You could see the connection to Velazquez’s painting and also Picasso imagination and creativity.
The last bit of the Picasso museum holds pieces from his later years. You really see that he painted like a child. I love the bold colors and the cheerful subjects. There were also some beautiful ceramics.
I really enjoyed our time at the Picasso Museum, so if you are in Barcelona, I would definitely recommend planning ahead so you can fit it in your itinerary. I know there are other Picasso Museums in other cities (Paris for example), that I hope to visit. Have you been to any of the Picasso Museums? I would love to hear about your experience.
- Buy your tickets in advance to avoid the long line.
- Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside the museum.
- I would plan on spending 2-3 hours at the Picasso Museum.
- There are several tapas bars close to the museum, we tried Lonja de Tapas, which we really enjoyed.
Disclosure: No financial compensation was received, but the Picasso Museum did provide complimentary tickets. As always, opinions expressed here are my own.