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Love and Death in Picasso’s Early Work

THE DISCUSSION OF PICASSO’S early work has thus far been dominated by attention to stylistic phenomena. The decade of intense activity from about 1900 to 1910 is generally divided into periods whose names alone—Toulouse-Lautrec, Blue, Rose, Negro, Early Cubist—are evidence of a preoccupation with stylistic issues. This is hardly surprising, given the remarkable variety of European and exotic, of older and contemporary styles that he assimilated in those years, the extraordinary pace of his own stylistic development from one period to the next, and above all the emergence of Cubism as a radically new style whose evolution can be followed year by year. But as a result, much less attention has been paid to iconographic phenomena and especially to those themes and motives that recur throughout Picasso’s early work despite its frequent changes in style.1 This essay is an attempt to trace the

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