Picasso explores the somber side of Paris
Pablo Picasso painted this somber Street Scene late in 1900, when he spent three months visiting Paris for the first time. He was nineteen years old.
These streets are probably in Montmartre, whose steep hillsides are not unlike some of those in San Francisco. The figures are turned away from us, apparently dejected. Their bulky clothes protect them against the cold. Notice the low angle of the winter sun, just touching the tops of the distant yellow buildings under the coal smoke fog of the city. The foreground is left dark.
Picasso’s sympathies are clearly with the figures, who dominate the painting even though we don’t see their faces. These figures are central, three-dimensional, and both larger and closer than the urban setting, which seems flatly painted, like a stage-set or a curtain. The curious red rectangle at the upper left—an awning, perhaps, or a sign over a bar—looms above the scene. Its color is repeated, almost tenderly, by the child’s skirt.
Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at email@example.com to confirm it will be on view.
Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at email@example.com.