Apparently today is National Pink Day – I had no idea that there was such a thing but when I started thinking about it the first artist that came to mind – interestingly enough – was Picasso and his Rose Period. Picasso’s Rose Period where he used cheerful pinks and oranges in his paintings lasted from 1904 to 1906 was a happy – or rather contemplative – period that followed his somber Blue Period (1901 – 1904).
During the Pink Period, Picasso painted a lot of harlequins and clowns in his works which was more a function of where he was painting at the Montmartre with the circus close by which would have provided him with enough material to capture in his pictures. Most of these have muted but cheerful pink and orangey colors – almost as if he was done mourning and now was the time to move on from the blue period of his life. The images of the people he captured during the Rose Period invite contemplation – he has captured them off duty – when the clowning around and entertaining has stopped and they take a pause – we see lonely human beings in isolated settings.
The works still hover somewhere between classical and abstract. It’s almost as if these works provided the segue into the abstract expressionism and cubism that he moved on to for the remainder of his life. One can almost see the path from the geometric patterns on the harlequin’s clothes and on the clown hats to the geometric shapes in which he rendered human figures in the not too distant future.
And let’s not forget the monumental – and of course pink – Les Demoiselles d’Avignion (1907) which came soon after the end of the Rose Period – women at a brothel in Barcelona. This painting –where the women’s faces are influenced by structured African masks – signifies a watershed moment in Picasso’s life. He is on the cusp of abstract expressionism and cubism. The geometric shaped human forms start to emerge – the first evidence of the completely cubist pictures that were soon to follow.