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In photos Picasso’s early work on show in Basel

A major exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler near Basel shows a young Picasso in search of his identity as a painter. It is the most elaborate and expensive exhibition ever shown at Fondation Bayeler.

The works on display from the painter's early years are milestones on Picasso's way to becoming the most famous artist of the 20th century. Never before have they been presented together in such a dense and high-quality exhibition.

Included are around 80 of the most famous paintings and sculptures in the world, borrowed for the most part only rarely from renowned museums in Europe, the US, Canada, Russia, China and Japan.

Curator Raphaël Bouvier has chosen "Yo Picasso" (I Picasso), a self-confident self-portrait in vibrant colours, to hang at the entrance and start the show.

At the age of just 20, aspiring artist Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973) embarked on a search for new pictorial themes and forms of expression. This search is also the theme of the exhibition, through ten rooms in chronological order.

Down and out in Paris

The colourful self-portrait is followed by the blue paintings. Picasso’s “blue period” (1901-1904) was influenced by his grief for his late friend Casemaga, who had travelled with him from Barcelona to Paris. The artist painted melancholy subjects and people on the fringes of society. His paintings bear witness to the suffering of miserable existence which he himself experienced alone and destitute in the poor quarters of Paris.

Around 1905, now established in Paris, he began his so-called “rose period” with more cheerful colour and themes depicting the hopes and desires of circus people - jugglers, acrobats, and harlequins.

The exhibition’s opening was a major event with several hundred journalists crowded into the Fondation Beyeler. Guest of honour was Claude Picasso, 71, son of the artist. He is now administrator of the estate of his father's extensive works.

This exhibition, which runs until May 5, will undoubtedly be one of the cultural highlights of 2019 in Europe. 

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