Picasso's African Period  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Picasso's African Period, which lasted from 1907 to 1909, was the period when Pablo Picasso painted in a style which was strongly influenced by African sculpture. Picasso discovered African art via Matisse and subsequently visited the Trocadero Museum of Ethnology (now the Musée de l'Homme) with another artist friend, André Derain.

This period, which followed his Blue Period and Rose Period, has also occasionally been called the Negro Period or Black Period.

After painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Picasso began painting in a style influenced by the two figures on the right side of the painting, which were based on African art. Although the painting is seen as the first Cubist work, before beginning the Cubist phase of his painting, he spent several years exploring African art. During this time the French empire was expanding into Africa, and African artifacts were being brought back to Paris museums. The press was abuzz with exaggerated stories of cannibalism and exotic tales about the African kingdom of Dahomey. Also talked about was the mistreatment of Africans in the Belgian Congo with Joseph Conrad's popular book Heart of Darkness. It was natural therefore in this climate of African interest that Picasso would look towards African artifacts as inspiration for some of his work.

Picasso's African influenced period was followed with the style known as Analytic Cubism, which had also developed from Les Mademoiselle Mignonne's. Specifically Picasso's interest was sparked by Henri Matisse who showed him a mask from the Dan region of Africa. Scholars maintain that Matisse purchased this piece from Emile Heymenn's shop of non-western artifacts in Paris.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Picasso's African Period" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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