Cuenca Exhibition

Picasso, printmaker (1904-1935)

February 26, 2013May 12, 2013

Picasso's early years as a printmaker (1904–1905)

Los dos saltimbanquis (1905)Los dos saltimbanquis, 1905

Le Repas frugal (The Frugal Repast, 1904) is considered Picasso's masterwork from his early period as a printmaker. With the guidance and technical advice of his friend Ricardo Canals, Picasso executed this etching at a workshop at 13 Rue Ravignan in Paris, known as Le Bateau-Lavoir and frequented by eminent members of the Parisian avant-garde. As in his paintings from the Blue Period, in this singular piece Picasso was able to transmit the themes of poverty, misery and despair with striking realism. In 1913, Ambroise Vollard purchased the plate for this print, along with others executed between late 1904 and early 1906, during Picasso's Rose Period; Vollard published them under the title Les Saltimbamques (The Acrobats). Picasso's interest in the circus, in acrobats, actors and the vagabond life of artists (whose company he kept), became the central focus of his work. He continued the tradition of figures such as Harlequin, Pierrot, or the buffoon, which date back to medieval traditions and to the Italian commedia dell'arte and whose modern avatars could be found in circus performances from Picasso's own time, such as the shows at the Cirque Medrano in Paris, which he attended assiduously with his friends Apollinaire, Max Jacob and André Salmon.