This picture is called The Blue Dancer.
Picasso painted it in 1900, when he would have been twenty years old just before the beginning of his Blue Period. I think it is beautiful.
At that time he was still searching for his ‘voice’; trying everything and copying everyone. The year before, Degas had shown a similar painting of a blue dancer and young Picasso wanted to show what he could do with the same subject matter. Recently, we went to the Picasso Museum in Malaga where they have over three hundred works, some of them quite key. The Blue Dancer isn’t amongst them unfortunately but there are interesting examples of some very early stuff. Not the least interesting aspect is to see the portraits he did of his wife Olga and son Paola painted when he was well into and beyond his cubist phase, hung adjacent to some of his extreme Modernist works. They are beautifully rendered paintings/likenesses. He didn’t paint his family in a cubist style.
I hadn’t actually realised the extent to which he tried lots of different painting styles. He painted like Van Gogh for a while and tried Pointillism like Seurat. There are pictures that one might easily mistake for a Gauguin and Impressionism and Surrealism were attempted [successfully]. But he wanted to move on. In the brochure it says that he wanted to ‘escape the taboos set up by mindless social convention and thought they can be breached by the freedom of art’. Did Seurat stand still? Did he find a style that he could sell and just stop trying new things? Was Picasso still pushing on because he could? From memory, I think Seurat was only in his early thirties when he died and famously of course, Vincent died at thirty-seven. Was it just the fact of Picasso’s longevity that took him into ever more adventuress methods and means, continuing to seek a new visual languge? If Vincent had lived to 91 would he too have explored other visual languages? Dunno guv.