14 self-portraits by Picasso from ages 15 to 90

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/08/01/14-self-portraits-by-picasso-f.html


The painting at 20 years old looks Van Gogh-esque.


I think some people are not aware that Picasso was a child prodigy on par with Mozart, they know him for cubism and don’t know that he was doing extremely lifelike drawings as a child.


A genius and wife beater.

1 Like

35’s the one that interests me the most: wonder why he went with a realistic-ish sketch that year when he was pretty clearly developing his look years earlier, which he used on the portrait before and all the portraits after.

Not a big fan of cubism, or Picasso the man, but the one from 15 years old appears to be a print from a lithograph stone. Handmade lithography is super hard because you have zero chances to fuck it up unless you feel like grinding the stone over again.


His changing style reflected his never ending quest to explore and push boundaries.

Or perhaps merely his increasing ability to recognize what would have commercial appeal?

Ah yes, everyone in the 40s had a charming upbeat print of Guernica brightening their kitchen.


Some of those succeed better than others, but he was always experimenting.

His childhood drawings aren’t that impressive. They seem impressive today because few modern children seriously study representational drawing (and because Picasso was very good at self-promotion), but if you look at the 16th through 19th centuries, they’re above average but unremarkable for an aspiring artist of his age.

He certainly didn’t do anything as prodigious as composing an opera still considered a classic at eleven.

1 Like


I was particularly thinking of this one, done age 12:


OK, agreed.

He looks like a young Iggy Pop in #24.

1 Like

It looks like a competent drawing by a first year atelier student. Which, sure, is impressive for a twelve year old–historically you’d normally enter such a program between thirteen and seventeen. However, due to his later fame, this often gets blown out of proportion. I’ve often read claims along the lines of “he could pain like an old master by sixteen”, which requires an insultingly broad definition of what constitutes “draw like an old master.”

Picasso had a solid foundation is classical art, which is important to remember when viewing his later work. But it was never more than a solid foundation.

I know it will be unpopular to say what I’m sure is on more than a few people’s minds: Picasso’s artwork is like the Benjamin Button movie.

In other words - to someone completely unaware, it is easy to think the order of presentation here is from near-death to grade school (and not the reverse). It’s like he got less skilled over time.

/ducks and runs

1 Like

You are a tough customer.


I think that’s a valid and interesting observation!




1 Like

That reminds me of an experience I had walking through a mid-sized museum where the art was displayed chronologically. After slowly processing centuries of old masters, the contemporary art was jarring. If you were an alien, you’d have to wonder: “what happened that drove this civilization insane?”

And if I’m not mistaken, there’s a vignette in The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat about an amateur artist who developed a neurological disorder that effected his ability to construct faces. As his art progressed, it looked as though he were developing a more sophisticated, modern style, when in fact he had been attempting realism all along.

It’s not that I’m not trying to knock modern art, mind you. But it could be said that modern art represents, in some sense, the deliberate unlearning of centuries of technique and convention, and that this is why it’s passingly similar to naive art.

1 Like