Paul En Arlequin is one of Pablo Picasso’s iconic works from 1924. The painting features Pic dressed as a harlequin and indicates the period of transition from Symbolism to Neoclassicism. It focuses on the common sense and traditional craft of artmaking that was instilled in his youth. The piece has neoclassical elements, which are likely attributed to his classical education.
In 1910, Picasso painted the shadow of his own profile onto a wall in the painting, making him part of the work itself. He embraced classicism but also transformed it with his unique composition techniques, producing bold brushstrokes to create a new version of traditional themes like portraiture. This fundamentally revolutionary approach is further revealed when one takes account that Picasso’s depiction of Paul En Arlequin was painted without any references or models – showcasing Picasso’s artistic talent and resourcefulness even at time with limited resources.
While Paul En Arlequin showcases Cubist elements, Picasso then took these transformations further in other works like Large Head from 1969 where he returned to classical portraiture by using caricature-like facial features and placing them under an impartial scrutiny. By merging humanism with still life content, this painting speaks to us about our imperfect world without making himself an unconditional partisan either side. As such works as Large Heads can be said to demonstrate how Picasso continued to capitalize on neoclassicism throughout his lifetime career by rejecting its classical structure while retaining its idealistic quality through revolutionary composition tactics.