PARIS: PICASSO DISCOVERS DEGAS

Pablo Picasso, "Portrait of Sebastià Junyer i Vidal," 1903. Oil on canvas. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. David E. Bright Bequest (M.67.25.18). © 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/ARS, New York

Picasso first visited Paris in 1900, when the city's glamour and artistic prestige seemed to be at their height. In his late teens at the time, he stayed with Catalan friends in the artistic quarter, Montmartre, and reveled in the famous bars, cabarets, and street life. Degas was then in his sixties and lived nearby, and was still admired for his pioneering pictures of these subjects. By 1904, when Picasso settled in Paris, he had already responded to some of Degas's celebrated pictures—such as In a Café (L'Absinthe) and Woman Ironing—and made his first works in sculpture, a medium that obsessed Degas at the time. Both artists remained fascinated by the female nude, making scenes of bathing and hair-combing that distantly recalled their student studies and often echoed great paintings and sculptures from the past. As he became increasingly famous, Picasso continued to admire Degas's inventiveness with line, color, and form.

Edgar Degas, "In a Café (L'Absinthe)," 1875–76. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Bequest of Comte Isaac de Camondo, 1911 (RF 1984).
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