When Picasso was 19, his close friend Carles Casagemas, a Spanish poet, shot himself at a dinner party in Paris. Picasso was still living in Barcelona. “It was thinking about Casagemas that got me started painting in blue,” Picasso said. His painting The Death of Casagemas is considered his first “blue” work. But even before the death of Casagemas, Picasso had descended into his own depression. Concurrently, the new subjects of his paintings—lowlifes and outcasts of society—were not popular with the public. Dating from 1901 to 1904, Picasso’s blue period is introverted and melancholy. This much-awaited Toronto show focuses on works from this formative phase. —E.C.
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