Jun 21, 2018

The Gay World of Pablo Picasso

When I visited the Pablo Picasso Museum in Barcelona, I saw many portraits of women, but only a few of men, and they were all fully clothed.  I concluded that the artist (1881-1973), well known for his many wives and girlfriends, was simply not interested in the male form.

But it turns out that the museum was keeping some of his works under wraps.  Such as this Cubist fragment of a man who is all eyes and penis.

In fact, during his years as a student in Barcelona, Picasso produced many realistic paintings and drawings of nude men, such as this model from 1897.

During his Blue Period (1901-1904), when he fell into a deep depression after the death of his friend Carlos Casagemas, Picasso consoled himself with a number of nude images.

He was in a cheerier mood during his Rose Period (1904-1906), when he was living in Paris.  He continued to produce male nudes, but specialized in adolescents, such as Boy Leading a Horse.

Picasso was very prolific during his long life, producing thousands of paintings and drawings. But, except for a few adolescent boys, his male portraits are often censored, left out of books, not displayed in museums, to give us the impression that he only ever used female models, and perhaps to erase the awareness of same-sex desire from the world.

Did Picasso have any same-sex interests of his own?  Probably -- he wanted to try everything in life, so he must have taken time out from his pursuit of the feminine for some same-sex dalliances.  His biography uncovers an affair with a gypsy boy when he was 17, and suggests that he and Casamegas were romantic partners.

We know that he was nonchalant about gay identity.  He had many gay friends, including Gertrudge Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Sergei Diaghilev, Jean Cocteau, art dealer Paul Rosenberg, and collector John Richardson.  He enjoyed surrounding himself with gay men, if only because they adored him for reasons other than his art.

1 comment:

  1. One of his paintings is a self-portrait with a prostitute at 14, so some of that male nudity has heterosexist undertones. I guess "self-portrait at 14 masturbating with friends" would've been harder to hang in a museum back then.


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