Le compotier (El frutero), Pablo Picasso

Picasso is one of the most important artist in the Art History and, of course, a Spanish symbol. As almost every important artist, he also suffered an evolution, that’s the purpose of this post: to discover that evolution across the Reina Sofía Museum.

Mujer en azul (Woman in blue)

Picasso is going through his blue period. Casagemás has committed suicide and he feels terribly guilty. His art is sad and he uses cool colours.  Melancholy is the leitmotiv in his paintings, that do not obey the logic of his contemporaneity. The Burial of Casagemás, for instance, undergoes the spatial division that could have been found in El Greco’s mannerism. He comes back to Spain and he unravels through painting from memory. Gertrude Stein, who had not met him yet, would write later that Picasso empties himself completely in each one of his works. At the same time, he reconnects with his academic past (remember that when he was only a teenager he painted a portrait of his sister and at barely seventeen years old he made a copy of Velazquez’s Portrait of Felipe IV).

The influence of Velázquez grows and Picasso begins to make paintings with baroque aesthetics framed in his contemporaneity. “The excessive amplitude of the dresses that fill the space pay tribute to Las meninas” (Léal, Piot, & Bernadac, 2000, p. 41). We find ourselves before a parisian prostitute painted with all the honours. Her umbrella acts like a sceptre, her enigmatic look is a demonstration of power.

Museum’s website for the painting here.

Le compotier (fruitbowl)

According to Gertrude Stein, Picasso returned to Paris in 1908, with some landscape paintings that marked, in her opinion, the beginning of cubism (Stein, 2017, p. 18). Others situate this beginning, after Picasso, who was looking for a new realism, attended an exhibition of African art. This is when Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was created, where the influence of the African masks is more than visible. In any case, The Demoiselles… did not succeed. Gertrude Stein herself would write:

“So Picasso commenced and little by little there came the picture Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and when there was that it was too awful. I remember Tschoukine [the Russian businessman and collecto Serguei ] who had so much admired the painting of Picasso was at my house  and he said almost in tears, what a loss for *French* art (Stein, 2017, p. 29)” 

On the other hand, even if Braque (Picasso’s cubist colleague) felt a little disconcerted at the beginning, he observed that such painting could be the start of something new (Olivares, Alcaide, & García, 2016, p. 53).

Picasso and Braque: looking for a new realityLe compotier (El frutero), Pablo Picasso

Picasso and Braque intended to turn their backs on the importance of colour in impressionism and showing reality in a new way. In addition, “a single point of view no longer exists and the painter does not even use a single light to model the shapes” (Olivares, Alcaide, & García, 2016, p. 56). This did not mean no longer looking at the past, it meant approaching it in a much freer way, like it was done previously by Borromini in his baroque architecture. To portray something that looked like reality, there was photography. Nonetheless, to look beyond what is visible, Picasso, along with Braque and Apolineare, founded cubism. 

More specifically, we are met with analytic cubism: The perspective and the volume, that until now allowed us to see the shape, are broken, There is hardly any difference between the chromatic unity and the object. It is a challenge for the one who observes.

Later came Juan gris, who proposed a new, more rational form of cubism and incorporated a method in this regard. Gertrude Stein observed that “still life was not a seduction it was a religion” (Stein, 2017, p. 23).

Museum’s website for the painting here.

Guernica: Picasso’s masterpiece

In 1937 the International Exposition is held in Paris, where Spain has a  pavillion. Max Aub arranges a painting with Picasso with a propaganda purpose. Picasso had done some sketches, but he was not convinced since “they did not reflect the request made by the commission that ordered the painting” (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, p. 157). On the 26th May, 1937, Hitler tests bombs in the small Basque village of Guernica. It is market day, everyone is out in the streets. The universal horror of the war measures 349,3 x 776,6  centimetres and it took 35 days to be painted.

Museum’s website for the painting here.

Do you want to know more about Picasso? Come with us to the Reina Sofía Museum!

Do you want to discover the secrets of the cubism? Come with us! Out tours are designed for just 6 people, this semi-private format let the visitor ask and have a deeper contact with the guide, so the visit is much more fruitful for everybody (including the worker). And good news! The museum is not only about Picasso: Inside we can find works by Miró, Dalí, Juan Gris, René Magritte, María Blanchard, Ángeles Santos… Oh, it’s just delightful.

And above all, the main reason is this: We love this place. Click here to reserve.


  • Léal, B., Piot, C., & Bernadac, M.-L. (2000). Picasso, la monographie, 1881-1973. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafa.
  • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. (s.f.). La colezzione. Madrid: Ediciones la Central.
  • Olivares, M. D., Alcaide, V. N., & García, G. T. (2016). El Siglo XX: La vanguardia fragmentada. Madrid: Editorial Universitaria Ramón Areces.
  • Stein, G. (1959). Picasso. Michigan: Beacon Press.


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