Paris was already one of the world’s leading art cities when Picasso moved there in 1900. He shared an apartment with the poet Max Jacob, and was so poor he resorted to burning his own canvasses in winter to keep warm. In Paris he met other artists and writers, and became close friends with Henri Matisse. He lived at various times in Montmartre and Montparnasse and split his time between Paris and Barcelona. He would live in Paris for long periods of his life, even staying there during the German occupation of World War II, when many other artists fled, fearing for their safety.
It was in his early days in Paris, in the first years of the 20th century, that Picasso began what became known as his Blue Period, from the smoky-blue tones of many of his works. Works from this time are on display in the museum, along with other styles such as Cubism and Surrealism. There’s a vast collection of ceramics as well as sketches, and the museum has almost every sculpture that Picasso created.
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The collection is housed in a mansion in the Marais district, the Hôtel Salé, built from 1856 to 1859 and worth seeing in its own right. Ironically, it was built for a wealthy tax collector: ironic because this huge Picasso collection was given to the French state in lieu of inheritance taxes.
The museum’s revamp has created twice the amount of exhibition space than was previously available, and a more logical timeline progressing through Picasso’s life. It has works covering his artistic life from 1895, when he was a precociously-talented 14-year-old, through to 1972, the year before he died. It also houses Picasso’s own collection of works by other artists (including Matisse, Degas, and Cézanne). It is a unique museum, honoring the genius of a unique artist.
Other museums of major artists in Paris
This museum in Montmartre holds over 300 of Dali’s works, including the biggest collection of his sculptures in France, plus a fun gift shop.
Musée Marmottan Monet
Here is the world’s largest Claude Monet collection, with other works by Renoir, Manet, Gaugin, Degas and many more.
Musée National Eugène Delacroix
This extensive collection of the works and personal memorabilia of the painter Eugène Delacroix is inthe apartment he lived in for five years, until his death in 1863.
This is a superb collection of the sculptor’s works, including “The Kiss” and “The Thinker,” housed in his former home/studio.
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