Picasso: Self Portrait with Cloak 1901

I lived in Boston from 1996-1998, working as a research assistant at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. During those two years I explored every nook and cranny of Beantown I could find; on foot, on bicycle, via boat, car, train, and even plane. I made it to Boston’s MFA a few times, including during the winter of 1997 when they hosted “Picasso: The Early Years, 1892-1906“. Of these, the following painting really grabbed my attention:

Picasso: Self Portrait with Cloak 1901

What was particularly odd about the painting was that at the time, I had very similar beard and hair, and was wearing a thick black coat as well, so there was a non-negligible resemblance. It was eerie.

What arrested me the most about the painting was the confident expression. There is no angst or concern in the face – Picasso seems to be looking forward in time, assured and optimistic. Given that I was fresh out of college and working at my first real job, living in a vibrant city like Boston, I felt an instant kinship.

Who knew I had such reserves of ego such that I could look at an artists’ self-portrait and make it all about me!

Chicago PicassoIncidentally, Picasso also has a famous sculpture in Daley Plaza in Chicago (my hometown). It’s been in my consciousness since I was a young child; I always imagined it to be a seated sphinx-like creature, that will come to life when you’re not looking.