Buried By Picasso, The Man Beneath 'The Blue Room' Tells A Story
by SCOTT SIMON
What's behind the man who is below "The Blue Room"? This week, conservators藝術品的修護與保存專家 at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. revealed that there's a mustachioed長捲鬍鬚的 man in a jacket and bow tie西裝與領結 resting his face on his hand that's painted below "The Blue Room." Pablo Picasso's noted 1901 scene of a woman bathing in the artist's studio. "The Blue Room" has hung in the Phillips since 1927. Art experts have long suspected something more must be below as there were brushstrokes筆觸 that didn't match the composition構圖 of the nude, bluish woman. But advanced infrared technology has now revealed the man with the mustache who also wears three rings on his fingers.
Just last May, a Picasso painting of a vase of flowers sold at auction for nearly $7 million. But in 1901, one of the most influential artists of all time was down and out落魄潦倒 in Paris. Picasso was 19 years old, depressed and painting Paris scenes in mostly just blue and blue-green. Historians now call these four or five years of his life Picasso's blue period. A close friend, Carlos Casagemas, had shot himself in the head at a cafe. Picasso walked the streets of Paris despondent沮喪的 and alone. Where so many other artists saw sun, color and joie de vivre生活樂趣(joy of life), Picasso found and painted people who were blind or visibly hungry, corpses, cheerless drunkards醉漢, neglected beggars and haggard憔悴與枯槁的 street walkers. See a startling 1904 etching, "The Frugal Repast節儉的一餐," where a blind man sits with skeletal fingers around the bony shoulders of a woman. They are so thin and hungry, you may cringe退縮 just to look. And the lone plate in front of them is bare. Or the old guitarist who appears barefoot, lifeless and gaunt削瘦的 more holding onto than playing the strings of a guitar - or are they the last strings of life?
These melancholy憂鬱的, blue portraits were not the Paris people wanted to hang in there homes. Picasso painted prolifically多產的 during his blue period, but his pictures didn't sell. He painted portraits of the poor and was poor himself. And that's why there are partial paintings underneath some of Pablo Picasso's most famous works. Curator策展人 Susan Behrends Frank says that in 1901, the man who would become perhaps the most important artist of the 20th century could not afford to acquire new canvases every time he had an idea that he wanted to pursue. The man with the mustache below "The Blue Room" is so far unidentified身分不明. But this week, he helped remind us how can be revealed in the same frame存在於同一幅畫中.