The Picasso Museum (Museu Picasso) in Barcelona, Spain is dedicated to the art of one man Pablo Picasso. A prolific artist, Picasso went through many periods during which his style changed from realism to abstraction. This museum focuses primarily on the artist's early periods.
Picasso in Barcelona
Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. His father was an artist and an instructor in art. When his father obtained a position as a professor in Barcelona's School of Fine Arts, the family moved there in 1895.
Pablo had been enthusiastic about art from the time he was a toddler. His father encouraged this passion and gave the boy his early artistic training. Once in Barcelona, he arranged for Pablo to take the entrance examination for the School of Fine Arts, which he passed with flying colors even though he was only 13. His father then rented a room for Pablo to use as a studio.
Picasso continued to live in Barcelona until 1904 when he shifted his base of operations to Paris, France. He returned again from time-to-time regarding Barcelona – and particularly the city's old quarter - as his home.
During his time in Barcelona, made many life-long friends. In addition, his artistic abilities matured and the foundation for his later work was laid.
A dedicated museum
In the 1950s, Jaume Sabartes decided that there should be a museum dedicated to the work of his friend Picasso. The nucleus of the museum would be the many works that Picasso had given to him over the years. When Sabartes told his idea to Picasso, the artist allegedly suggested that the museum be in Barcelona because of his close ties to that city.
The museum opened in 1963 under the name “the Sabartes Collection.” It included some 574 works that Picasso had given to Sabartes as well as a number of other works that the artist had donated to the city of Barcelona over the years. The museum was housed in a medieval palace in the old quarter of the city.
After Sabartes death, Picasso donated a further 920 works to the museum in Sabartes' memory. These were primarily works that Picasso had left with his family when he moved to Paris. More space was needed and so the museum expanded into a neighboring palace.
Subsequently, the museum received more donations of works including from the artist Salvatore Dali and from Picasso's widow Jacqueline Roque. In addition, the museum wanted to add more facilities such as an auditorium and space for temporary exhibitions. Accordingly, it acquired more neighboring buildings so that it now includes five medieval and Renaissance palaces and houses.
The Picasso Museum is located in the old section of the city. It is not far from the port. Within its narrow winding streets, you come upon Barcelona's 14th century Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Eulalia as well as the Palace of the King where Ferdinand and Isabella allegedly once hosted Christopher Columbus. On Montcada Street, there is a line of dark brown stone buildings that were once the palaces and town houses of the city's elite. Five of these buildings are now the Picasso Museum.
The buildings in which the Museum's collection is displayed are interconnected so that visitors move from room to room without realizing that they are moving between buildings. Here and there, the remains of the rooms' once palatial decoration is visible.
Because the Museum is often listed as one of Barcelona's top attractions, it tends to be crowded. Many visitors move from painting to painting in succession giving the same amount of attention to each.
The Museum's collection is heavily skewed toward the early part of Picasso's career. Thus, visitors can trace Picasso's artistic development from early juvenile works, through his training as a realist and into his Blue and Rose periods.
There are some 4,200 works in the collection. Inasmuch as most are works that the artist left behind for more than 50 years after he departed Barcelona or ones that he gave to other people, there are few blockbuster masterpieces. However, through these works, one can see the artist developing ideas that he would use in his more famous works. Thus, the collection is important in understanding the development of Picasso's artistic process.
For more information on visiting, see the Picasso Museum's website.
Above: An interior courtyard of one of the palaces that now house the Picasso Museum.
Below: Some rooms of the museum still bear their original decor.
Places to see art - - Barcelona, Spain - - Picasso Museum