Becoming Picasso

Explore Picasso's breakthrough year and the beginning of his famous blue period

Picasso turned 20 in 1901. It was a transitional period for the artist – having enjoyed a successful show of drawings the previous year, he began to tackle the giants in earnest – assimilating and adapting the styles of Degas, Van Gogh and others. He began to sign his works ‘Picasso’ for the first time.

Later in the year, his development took an unexpected turn. His ‘blue period’, which lasted until 1904, featured darker, predominantly blue palettes and came in the wake of the suicide of the artist’s friend Carles Casagemas. His subjects took a darker turn, with a focus on solitary, tragic figures – beggars, outcasts, and prostitutes.

Venue details

The Courtauld Gallery Somerset House, Strand London WC2R 0RN 020 7848 2526

Entry details

Free with National Art Pass (standard entry £6)

Daily, 10am – 6pm

24 Dec, 10am – 4pm

Closed 25 and 26 Dec

Member offers

10% off shop purchases

What the critics say


The Courtauld has pulled off spectacular, precisely chosen, loans to unravel the drama of how diverse masterpieces from the same year at once relate to each other

  • Jackie Wullschlager
  • FT