The Yellow Belt: Marie-Thérèse, 1932, Pablo Picasso, Nahmad Collection, Switzerland
The Yellow Belt: Marie-Thérèse, 1932, Pablo Picasso, Nahmad Collection, Switzerland

The exhibition opens with art by the young Picasso, under the influence of Gauguin, van Gogh and the Old Masters. Inspired by the work of Toulouse-Lautrec and his initial sojourns in Paris, Picasso produced some colourful scenes of big city life, without yet demonstrating an independent style. 

In the fall of 1901 Picasso began to paint using mainly blue-green and blue-violet shades, in moody works expressive of melancholy and depression. The subjects of his blue period are society's losers: syphilitic mothers, driven to a life of crime and accompanied by their broods; prostitutes and beggars. Picasso included in the Zurich show only a few works from this period, and was equally sparing with examples of the pink period that followed it in 1905. Indeed, the painter was virtually indifferent to the early work that is held in such high esteem by today's viewers. For him, his Cubist breakthrough marked the inception of his true career. 

Together with George Braque, Picasso developed the entirely new visual language of Cubism at the end of the first decade of the new century, and his interest in the style was accordingly great. The current exhibition presents Picasso's Cubism by dividing his work between 1907 and 1920 into three phases: the analytical, the synthetic, and the Late Cubist. Picasso frequently worked with several techniques simultaneously, and his classicist style, for instance, is visible in his production of 1917 and 1918, as well as ten years later. In the 1920s he became friends with the Surrealist poets André Breton, Louis Aragon and Tristan Tzara, and, although not an official member of the movement, participated in Surrealist activities and group shows. His Surrealist period, in which the formal language of Late Cubist and classicist motifs was supplanted by new and fantastical compositions, began in the late 1920s and lasted beyond the Zurich retrospective until 1937.

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