An artist’s versatility says a lot about his skill and the value of his work. Pablo Picasso is one such versatile artist whose work is celebrated all over the world. His work has been divided into eleven categories. Some of these categories are global art movements while others are distinct periods in his personal work. Picasso is best known for his modern and surreal art styles, but his authentic art style deserves special appreciation. An important period in his career was called “Picasso’s Blue Period”. His painting titled “The Blind Man’s Meal” is a pioneering example of his work in the blue period.
Picasso’s Blue Period – “Período Azul”
As the name suggests, Picasso’s blue period was characterized by monochromatic paintings in blue. Other colors included bluish-green tones and sometimes a pop of warm colors that stand out. An interesting feature of this period is that the term “blue” doesn’t only stand for the color but also the feeling of the painting. The emotional tones of these paintings are melancholy, despair, and a general sense of feeling “blue”.
This era in Picasso’s career began sometime in the middle of 1901 and continued for about 3 years till 1904. During this time Picasso created his now iconic painting “The Blind Man’s Meal”
Where is it now?
The Blind Man’s Meal is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. It was purchased by the Museum from Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt in the year 1950.
The Subject in “The Blind Man’s Meal”
The subject of the present painting is a sickly man, eating a piece of bread with some wine. The man has black hair that contrasts strongly with his rather aged facial features. This suggests that the man is young in years but has aged prematurely due to the struggles of life.
The man wears dark-colored clothes in a dim room with hardly any light. His clothes almost mix with the wall of the room. He sits in solitude, with a loaf in his left hand and touching the wine pitcher with his right.
Several finer details of the scene enhance the feelings of suffocation, stagnancy, and melancholia. One of the most striking features is the scarcity and blandness of the food on the man’s table. The patchy wall, wooden table, and the crushed white cloth add a sense of destitution to the painting.
Analysis of Elements in “The Blind Man’s Meal”
Even though the painting appears minimalistic, several elements and even colors have deeper symbolic meaning. These elements have a unique meaning just by themselves and may also be understood in groups.
The Blind Man
The first thing that catches our eye is the warm tones on the man’s skin. The most vibrant of all are the muscles on the subject’s neck. The highlights have been used skillfully to one’s draw attention toward the shadows. These shadows allow the viewer to perceive the sickly state of the man. His eye sockets are sunken and the cheeks have caved in. On his neck, we see a brightly highlighted muscle. This creates a sharp contrast between his skin’s dark and light portions that amplify his frail build.
The Blind Man’s Meal
The food on the table is scarce not only in quantity but also in nutrition. The scanty food is in line with his puny physique. Picasso captures a moment where the man reaches out for the wine pitcher. His gentle hand on the jug reflects that he is trying to feel and locate the food on his table.
A stray crumb of bread on the table and the half-eaten bread in his hand give us a sense of how difficult it must be to swallow the dry bread. All these elements that can be felt by the audience are what make this painting relatable to everyone.
One of the most interesting interpretations of the man’s meal is its biblical significance. The man’s fragile body and a meal consisting of bread and wine have sacramental associations with Catholic doctrines. The references to Christ enhance the gravity of the man’s hardships.
The Blind Man’s Room
The subject’s dark blue clothes camouflage in the dark blue walls of his room. This disappearance of the man into the background sheds light on the general sadness of the picture. This element of merging in the background shows how a person may feel as if they are fading away in their lowest times.
The scanty furniture and simple dishes add to the scarcity and poverty of the scene. This poverty is not only financial but the poverty of resources, support, and opportunities that the audience can relate with.
There’s a single light source in the scene which enters the frame from the bottom left corner. The light probably comes from a small source such as a candle. However, one may consider the room to be pitch dark and the light source could reflect the artist’s ability to shed light on things that usually go unnoticed. In certain portions of the painting, the lighting is rather patchy which gives the scene a surreal effect.
The Painter’s Intentions
The reason behind creating this piece is not for its beautiful aesthetics or even for displaying difficult art techniques. Picasso’s “The Blind Man’s Meal’ captures a glimpse of a man who has been completely worn down by the vicissitudes of life.
Through this work, Picasso painted an emotional narrative about the innate suffering of human life. Despair, scarcity, and pessimism are certain emotions that every person feels at least once in their lives. These experiences leave a dent in one’s psyche and are impossible to forget. The moment you look at this picture, you’ll be reminded of the time you hit rock bottom.
It is for the aforementioned reasons that even after a hundred years this painting is still relevant and will always remain timeless.
Picasso’s “The Blind Man’s Meal” is a pioneering example of “less is more”. The artist relies heavily on minimalism to heighten the scarcity, poverty, and loneliness of the subject. The dominance of blue further accentuates the despair of the man. The warm tones on his skin show that he is alive, but the darkness in the room engulfs him completely. Through a simple picture, Picasso successfully captures all the tones of a blue mood.
FAQs – The Blind Man’s Meal
Where is the Blind Man’s Meal located?
Pablo Picasso’s “The Blind Man’s Meal” is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET Museum), New York since the year 1950.
When was the blind man’s meal made?
Pablo Picasso created “The Blind Man’s Meal” oil painting in the year 1901.
Why is Blue Period called Blue Period?
The blue period refers to the period between 1901 and 1904 in Pablo Picasso’s career. During this time Picasso’s work was predominated by the shades of blue. Moreover, these paintings depicted various ranges of “blue emotions” or sad emotions that a person can go through.
Picasso’s personal life has a lot to do with the “Blue Period” in his art. Picasso had lost a dear friend to suicide in 1901. His friend was a Spanish painter Carles Casagemas who died at the young age of 21 years. At the time Picasso was also struggling with financial difficulties. In a way, the sadness of his friend’s death and the difficulties of his life seeped through to his art.
Where is Picasso’s Dove of Peace?
Picasso’s dove of peace was created in1949. The examples of this lithograph are presently housed in the Tate Gallery (United Kingdom) and the Museum of Modern Art (New York City)
Here’s something you might like: