Around the world in 8 Picasso paintings

We take an in-depth look at the locations of eight of Picasso’s most iconic paintings.

Pablo Picasso once said that “art is a lie that makes us realize the truth”. One of the most prolific artists of the 20th century, his extraordinary works inspire viewers to reflect on reality and are renowned worldwide.

While the majority of his works can be found in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Museo Casa Natal (‘Birthplace Museum’) and the Picasso Museum in Malaga – the latter celebrates its 20th anniversary this year – his paintings can be found around the world.

To mark the 50th anniversary of his death this 8 April, we’ve selected eight of his most iconic works, exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious museums.

1. Guernica, 1937

This quintessential cubist work is considered one of Picasso’s greatest. An enormous mural that’s over 25ft long and 11ft and painted in black and white, it’s Picasso’s interpretation of the bombing of the Basque city of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. That same year the work was exhibited at the opening of the Spanish Pavilion during the International Exhibition in Paris. The painting was immediately a huge success, spectacularly capturing a tragic chapter in European history and forever marking the art world.

Where: Reina Sofía Museum, Madrid

2. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907

Contrary to what the title might suggest, this famous work by Picasso refers to Calle d’Avinyó, a street in Barcelona where a brothel frequented by the artist was located. The work is considered among the first of cubism and depicts five naked female prostitutes looking directly into the eyes of the observer. This painting, exhibited for the first time in 1916, received a flood of criticism for its provocative subject manner. However, history took a different view and it’s considered one of the most important works of its time.

Where: MoMa, New York

3. Three Musicians, 1921

In this oil painting Picasso depicts a scene of three figures, broken down into simple shapes, sitting beside each other with a dog in the background. The three figures are masked, which is said to be a reference to Italian culture and tradition, and represent a Harlequin, Pierrot and a monk. The work was created at the end of Picasso’s Synthetic Cubism period, which is characterized by brighter colors than Analytical Cubism. It was painted during his stay in Fontainebleau.

Where: MoMa, New York

4. The Weeping Woman, 1937

The Spanish Civil War theme returns in this meter-high oil on canvas. The painting portrays a crying woman who appears to be biting a handkerchief in agony. Here Picasso wanted to take the suffering figures present in his Guernica and dedicate an entire space to them. The drama of this cubist work is expressed through the bold colors, such as green, yellow and red, which dominate the painting. The work is part of Picasso’s series on weeping women, known for its powerful sense of suffering and anguish.

Where: Tate, London

5. The Blue Room, 1901

To understand this painting, we have to go back to Picasso’s blue period, which was characterized by melancholic paintings executed almost entirely in a monochromatic blue. In this painting Picasso depicts a female prostitute washing herself in a blue room. It reflects the artist’s interest in painting female bodies carrying out everyday actions. The references to Degas and Van Gogh are clear, in both subject and style. This painting also has a secret. Careful infrared analysis has revealed another painting by Picasso, of a mysterious bearded man, buried beneath the layers of paint.

Where: The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

6. Portrait of Dora Maar, 1937

This is just one of the paintings Picasso dedicated to his muse and romantic partner Dora Maar. Although Picasso was married to Olga Khokhlova for much of his life and career, he never hid that he had several mistresses. One of these was Henriette Theodora Markovitch, better known as Dora Maar. An artist in her own right, she had a great impact on Picasso’s career despite the intense and volatile nature of their relationship. She was the muse and model for many of his works, and also documented the creation of his Guernica. This is one of Picasso’s most famous paintings of her.

Where: Picasso Museum, Paris

7. Self-Portrait, 1907

We can see how the artist’s style is changing and departing from realism in this early 20th-century self-portrait of a young Picasso at the age of 26. The shape of the face is less natural, and the colors used are typical of the African style that Picasso was increasingly inspired by. It was only a little later that Picasso, together with Braque, laid the foundations of cubism. By looking at all of his self-portraits chronologically, you can get a fantastic overview of Picasso’s artistic evolution. At 15 he painted an incredibly realistic self-portrait, while in his last portrait he’s almost unrecognizable.

Where: National Gallery, Prague

8. Las Meninas, 1957

As is common in Picasso’s work, this painting is part of a themed series. Here Picasso reinterprets the famous painting by Velázquez. Although the scene of Las Meninas is recognizable, the work differs significantly from the original because of its greater complexity and the use of light and color. The entire series consists of no fewer than 58 works, through which Picasso meticulously studied every aspect of the original. Much of this series is exhibited at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, where it’s possible to admire the various versions and different phases of his study.

Where: Picasso Museum, Barcelona

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