PICASSO Portraits

During my touch-down in London last week- I visited the exhibition Picasso Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery.

The clearest impression of the exhibition is Picasso’s incredibly, restlessly diverse approach to any subject. These are two very different portraits of Picasso’s first wife Olga:


The right one is from 1923, showing Olga’s classical beauty in a formal classical painting that reminds us of Ingres, one of Picasso’s favorite painters. The left portrait of Olga, from 1935, is Picasso’s very personal vision of her. Although the face is twisted and de figured, her expression with the huge dark eyes and the little pinched mouth are still clear.

After 1930, Picasso emphasized the models psychology in his portraits, the likeness to the sitter became less and less important. I found it very precious how the exhibition combined portraits in different techniques to show this. For example in a trio of female portraits ,every one was matched to the style of the sitter. One in soft blurred tones, almost translucscent to show the lightness and delicacy of the woman. Another visually striking in bolder ink with patterns, a third one with angular shapes.

Picasso painted numerous self’ portraits and took many many photographs of himself , often with his own paintings in the background.

Here are three very different selfportraits that were exhibited:

The left one is a classical charcoal and chalk self portrait from 1899, the middle one an almost primitive oil painting from 1906 and the last one crayon on paper from 1972. It is fascinating to see the wide spectrum of techniques and styles that all carry Picasso’s really specific language.

I am working on the human proportions for the course right now , and it was interesting to see the development from Picasso’s huge plump figures and especially hands , sometimes bigger than the heads, to the more and more changed features into almost diagramatic figures, never becoming totally abstract though.



The information for this text from the National Portrait Gallery and images from:Pablo-ruiz-picassonet. 2017. Pablo-ruiz-picassonet. [Online]. [22 January 2017]. Available from: http://www.pablo-ruiz-picasso.net/theme-olga.php



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