Picasso was a bullfighting aficionado from his youth and portrayed the bullring at various points in his career. As a very young artist he made picturesque renderings. Taking up the theme in his Neoclassical period, he devised bullfight scenes that suggest the ballet. In the 1930s, under the influence of Surrealism, Picasso emphasized the violence of the subject. Returning to the bullfighting motif in the late 1950s, he focused on strong colors suggesting the time of day and on decorative elements inherent in the unfolding drama.
Gallery label from Picasso: Variations and Themes, March 28–September 30, 2010.