Why Picasso’s Palettes Were Works Of Art

As Picasso’s palettes go on show in Madrid, Lucy Davies explains what they reveal about the artist: ‘The kidney shape of a palette, its sequence of colors dotted on the upper curve, the oval thumb hole at one end, has become a universal signifier for the practice of painting. We know color was of immense importance to Picasso: Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions he said, continuing: Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? The first painting that we have from Picasso (“The picador”) dates from 1890, when he was nine years old, before he had even attended art school. Indeed, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona houses a number of palettes and a box of paints from these early years. Only the most basic set of paints would have been used at this stage, to encourage the fledgling artists to fully understand how color works.’

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