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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.

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Temporarily closed - Opening 19 November

The Courtauld Gallery is currently closed for a major transformation project and is due to reopen to the public in late 2021.

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