Dona and Joe’s European Vacation: 2020 Version – Day 11

Forget what I said about finding parallels between the art of Gaudí and Picasso—there are none. Instead, let’s talk about Pablo Picasso, whose early life and work we toured this evening, courtesy of our guide, Jordi (which is George in Catalan). By the way, if you’re going to do a walking tour, the best way is to have your guide wear a headset and mic, and for each member to have a receiver. That way you can hear every word the guide says, whatever the traffic, crowds, and your distance from the leader. We did another tour on our first full day here, and even though there were only the six of us, only the people walking next to our guide were able to hear.

Jordi’s stories and explanations were clear to the 20 people on this tour, although by the time we got to the Picasso Museum we were down to 17. I suppose that’s a fairly normal loss for a walking tour. As Jordi said, “That’s life.”

Some interesting Picasso facts:

He grew up in southern Spain, and came to Barcelona around 13, which is when he first showed his artistic genius. Some of his paintings from that age are spectacular examples of realism.

An early Impressionist Picasso. The artist was so poor at this point in his life that he painted this on cardboard instead of canvas.

When Picasso entered his late teens, however, he abandoned the art school his father had picked out for him, preferring instead to hang out with the bohemians at the Four Cats café, where he began to experience the influence of the French painting of the time.

He moved to Paris soon after, and just a couple of years before Franco (Generalissimo Francisco Franco) took power after the Spanish Civil War. Franco was a dictator and a staunch anti-Communist, and as Picasso eventually became a Communist, he decided he would never return to Spain while Franco was in power. Franco finally died in 1975, but Picasso had died two years earlier, so never made it back to his homeland.

Franco, aware of Picasso’s disdain for him, returned the feeling. Picasso’s fame led many people in Spain to want to establish the Picasso Museum. In the 1960s they worked to make it happen. But Franco wouldn’t allow any museum to bear Picasso’s name. So the artist’s backers named the museum the Sabartés Collection, after Picasso’s long-time secretary, Juame Sabartés, who had also collected a variety of the artist’s works. The name was changed after Franco died.

An early Cubist Picasso.

Picasso himself donated art every year to the museum, and made sure his later work was well represented, since he had not yet begun to paint in the Impressionist, and later the Cubist styles that he perfected in Paris. The museum now houses 4,251 paintings and sculptures by Picasso.

Tomorrow is our last day in Barcelona, so we’ll try to sum up the experience. It won’t be easy.

– Dona and Joe