Time Travel to Pablo Picasso

January 3, 2018

This is my first time travel entry which means I will explain why I enjoy this.

Connecting historical events, people, inventions, and daily life is astounding to me. To think back and envision a whole world without today’s niceties and understand how people 100+ years ago were exactly the same but yet completely different. Same in the fact they have emotions, hate politics/bureaucracy, and mornings were still tough. But different in the fact there were no vaccines, no diapers, no internet. Things and ideas most people take for granted today. Another reason I enjoy connecting the dots is to understand other cultures during different points in time.

Let’s explore the times surrounding Pablo Picasso while he was in Paris, France from 1904-1912.

Self Portrait of Pablo Picasso in 1901 Spain

Imagine Senor Picasso traveling from Barcelona, Spain to Montemarte, Paris, France. Most likely he would have used a train or carriage. Automobiles were around but were very rare, the Model A was only manufactured in 1903. He would have been dressed in Edwardian style. This is when women have the S-style shape dresses and men wear top hats or bowler hat. As an artist I wonder what hat Picasso chose?

Paris 1900
A street in Paris in the early 1900’s. You can see how most people dressed.

Picasso would have shown up to Paris and possibly had a small space to live in with less than quality plumbing we would expect today. I would suppose his daily life might have been similar to our own. In that we wake up and eat breakfast, maybe go to a cafe. But the world around him would have been different. Considering this is pre-World War I and according to my Grolier Encyclopedia many European countries were making alliances between each other in case war did break out.

Now let’s take a brief tour around the world during the years he was in Paris.

North America: US Women’s suffrage protests were in full swing.

United Kingdom: Summer Olympics were held in London

Central America: Panama Canal was being built. Started as a french project but the US took over in 1881 and completed it in 1914 (in time for WWI)

South Africa: Mahatma Gandhi was demonstrating for Civil Rights.

Philippines: In 1898 Filipinos had gained their independence from Spain. However, the US having helped win this independence now steps in to take possession of the islands leading to many Filipino deaths. Worldmark Encyclopedia Cultures & Daily Life Volume 3

Russia: Anna A Akhmatova wrote poetry and protected the traditions of classical Russian traditions. She was alive during pre-revolutionary Russia and Soviet Russia. Dictionary of World Biography 20th century 

India: Sri Aurobindo started the beginnings of the Indian upraising against British rule.  Dictionary of World Biography 20th century 

Switzerland: A patent clerk publishes 3 papers that revolutionize physics, his name is Albert Einstein.  Dictionary of World Biography 20th century 

This is a very brief list and by all means look further if you want. But let’s go back to France. In the early 1900’s France had just begun the Tour de France, men only please. And at this time you couldn’t have listened to the sport via the radio because voice and music were still unable to be transferred.

But times were changing and quickly! Ragtime was taking off and young women were loosening their corsets! Paul Poiret, a French fashion designer, was creating high fashion garments without a corset. Also, Planes were taking to the skies and France held the world’s first Air Race. Records were being made left and right has people went further and further into the sky. And Paris had its own gang the Bonnet Gang using cars and multi-shooting weapons the cops didn’t have yet.

While living in Paris Picasso would have been near three major events. One, being severe rains that flooded Paris in 1910 followed by demonstrations against public hangings. Then in 1911 we have the start of the Champagne Riots in Southern France. This event I found interesting but I will keep it short. Basically, the process of making champagne is expensive and only large companies (or Champagne houses) can do this. Since there are lots of people who grow grapes and few Champagne houses to sell to an issue began. These Champagne houses would often ‘rough up’ the people until they dropped the price or completely ignore them and buy grapes very cheap from far away thanks to the new local train route. Well needless to say the vineyard owners disliked this very much and riots broke out several times. Eventually, a law was written that the Champagne name could only be produced with grapes from the champagne region with a premium price given to vineyards closest to Champagne. This is very condensed, and worth a read if you enjoy good history stories.

A popular journal at the time Picasso was in Paris.

With all of these events and WWI coming you might think art was over shadowed. But not at all! In Paris art was being transformed into a dynamic new reflection of life. Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and many others were there creating masterpieces both old and new.

This is my favorite decade because of the mix that was happening all over the world. Countries becoming independent and seeking rights for individuals. Art becoming risky but with a classical approach and Technology growing and expanding what people thought possible.

And there is Picasso a young man in the middle of this amazing decade.


Some physical references that I used:

Worldmark Encyclopedia Cultures & Daily Life Volume 3
Dictionary of World Biography 20th century 
Grolier Encyclopedia 1946 edition
Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th century Volume II: 20th century

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: