Pablo Picasso, aka Pablo Ruiz or Pablo Ruiz Picasso, was a Spanish expatriate artist, sculptor, painter artist, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer. He was one of the best and most influential artists of the 20th century. He was also the founder (with Georges Braque) of Cubism. Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, in Malaga, Spain, and left for his heavenly abode on April 8, 1973, in Mougins, France.
The vast amount of work by Picasso is a testament to the legend that he was and also to the energy and creativity of the "disquieting" Spaniard with the "somber...piercing" eyes who superstitiously believed that his work kept his spirit alive. Through the span of almost the entirety of his life, 91 years of existence, Picasso committed himself to a creative process that significantly influenced and mirrored the entire evolution of art and design in the early 20th century.
Pablo Picasso was the son of Jose Ruiz Blasco, an instructor of drawing, and Maria Picasso Lopez. His extraordinary talent in drawing started to show at an early age, around 10 years old when he was his father's student in A Coruna, where the family relocated in 1891. Since then, his capacity to play with the techniques he was taught and create new ways of expression quickly helped him surpass his father's abilities. Then, in A Coruna, the father changed his ambitions towards his son's ambitions, supplying him with models and guidance for his first solo show when he was 13 years old.
The family relocated to Barcelona in the fall of 1895. Pablo was accepted into the art academy of the city (La Llotja), in which his father was appointed to his final position as an instructor of drawing. The family hoped Pablo would be successful as an academic artist, and in 1897, his future recognition in Spain seemed certain. In the year 1897, the artwork Science and Charity, for which his father was the model on behalf of the physician, received an honorable distinction at Madrid in the Fine Arts Exhibition.
It was clear that the Spanish capital city was the ideal next destination for the young artist who intended to gain recognition and satisfy the expectations of his family. Pablo Ruiz duly set off to Madrid in the autumn of 1897 and enrolled in the Royal Academy of San Fernando. Although he was disappointed that the curriculum there was absurd, he began to spend his time recording the world all around him in cafes, on street corners, inside brothels, and at the Prado, which is where he first discovered Spanish painting. Work by these, as well as other artists, would capture Picasso's imagination in various periods throughout his lengthy career.
Goya is one example. He was an artist whose work Picasso copied at the Prado during the year 1898 (a portrait of bullfighter Pepe Illo as well as a sketch for one of his Caprichos Bien tirada esta, which depicts the character Celestina examining the stockings of a young Maja). These same characters appear in his later work, including Pepe Illo in a collection of engravings (1957) as well as Celestina as a sort of self-portrait that is voyeuristic, particularly within the collection of engravings and etchings called Suite 347 (1968).
Picasso was ill during the early spring of 1898 and took the rest of the year recovering in his Catalan town located in Horta de Ebro, in the close company of a close friend from Barcelona, Manuel Pallares. The moment Picasso was able to return to Barcelona in the early part of 1899, he was a different man. He had gained pounds; he'd discovered how to live independently in the open country; he spoke Catalan, and, perhaps most importantly, he had taken the decision to break away from his art-school training and to discard the family's plans for his life. He began to exhibit a favor for the mother's maiden name, and often the works he created were signed by P.R. Picasso. By the end of 1901, he'd dropped the Ruiz completely.
In Barcelona, Picasso was a part of a group of Catalan writers and artists with their eyes aimed at Paris. They were his acquaintances in the Cafe Els Quatre Gats ("The Four Cats," styled after the Chat Noir ["Black Cat" in Paris) in which Picasso was the first to exhibit his work in a Barcelona show in January 1900. They were the subject of more than fifty portraits (in mixed media) in the exhibition.
There was also an eerie, dark "modernista" painting, Last Moments, which depicts the presence of a priest on the deathbed of a woman. This painting was selected to be part of the Spanish section of the Exposition Universelle in Paris in the same year. In a bid to see his work on display and be able to experience Paris personally, Picasso set off with his fellow artist Carles Casagemas (Portrait from Carles Casagemas 1899) to take on at least the outskirts of Montmartre, if not Paris.
Discovery of Paris
One of Picasso's most significant artistic discoveries during his travel (October-December) was color. Not the dull colors that are typical of his Spanish Palette, nor the dark black of the scarfs worn by Spanish women or the ochres and dark browns that dominated the Spanish landscape but a stunning color, the hue that was the color of Vincent van Gogh, of the latest fashions of a city preparing for an international fair. With pastels, charcoals, watercolors as well as oils, Picasso documented the daily life of the French capital (Lovers in the Street, 1900). In Moulin La Galette (1900), the artist paid his respect to the Swiss Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, as well as his Catalan friend Ramon Casas.
In just two months, Picasso was back in Spain with Casagemas, who had his heartbroken heart. In the end, after failing to entertain his pal at Malaga, Picasso took off to Madrid in the middle of the city, where he was employed as an art editor in the new journal Arte Joven. Casagemas was back in Paris, after which he attempted to shoot the woman he was in love with and then took the gun to himself and perished. The effect on Picasso was profound. It wasn't just that he lost his best companion and possibly felt guilt over having let him down. More importantly, it was the emotional experience and the material which would inspire the robust expressionist quality of his work from the time known as the Blue Period. Picasso painted two portraits of the death of Casagemas within a couple of months in 1901, as well as the two funeral scenes (Mourners and Evocation). In 1903 Casagemas made an appearance as the artist in the mysterious artwork La Vie.
Blue Period of Pablo Picasso
Between 1901 and mid-1904, during the time when blue was the most predominant color in his work, Picasso moved back and forth between Barcelona and Paris in search of materials for his work. For instance, his visits to the Women's Prison of Saint-Lazare in Paris between 1901 and 1902 offered him models for free as well as compelling subjects. The issue of motherhood (women could have their children nursed in prison) was also a major topic for Picasso during a time when Picasso was looking for materials that would most accurately express traditional art-historical themes in 20th-century terms.
The Transition toward Paris, as well as the Rose Period
Picasso eventually chose to make the move permanent to Paris in the spring of 1904, and his art reflects a change in attitude and a particular response to a variety of artistic and intellectual movements. Saltimbanques and traveling circuses were a topic he discussed with his most important and new friend Guillaume Apollinaire. Both the poet as well as the painter, these wandering artists (Girl Balancing on Ball  and The Actor ) were a sort of evocation of the artist's role within the contemporary world. Picasso specifically made that identification with the Family of Saltimbanques (1905), in which he takes on the character of Harlequin and Apollinaire plays the role of an influential person (according to their friendship with the poet Andre Salmon).
Picasso's personal situation also changed when towards the end of 1904, Fernande Olivier became his mistress. Her presence was the inspiration for many paintings in the years prior to Cubism and, in particular, their excursion to Gosol during the year 1906 (Woman with Loaves).
The color was never easy for Picasso. The artist was unable to master color, so he switched to a predominantly Spanish (i.e., unichromatic) palette. The shades from The Blue Period were replaced toward the end of 1904 until 1906 in what is known as the Rose Period by those of clay, flesh, and even of Earth itself (The Harem, 1906). Picasso is believed to be working with colors in an effort to get closer to sculpture and form, particularly in year 1906 (Two Nudes and La Toilette). Picasso's Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1906) and Self-Portrait using Palette (1906) demonstrate this growth and the influence of his research into the archaic Iberian sculpture.
At the end of 1906, Picasso began working on a massive composition that was later dubbed Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907). The brutal treatment of the female body, as well as his masklike faces (influenced by an investigation of African art), resulted in the creation of a work that was controversial. But the piece was built on art-historical traditions- A revival of fascination with El Greco contributed to the breaking up of the space and the movements of the characters as well as the overall design was influenced by Paul Cezanne's Bathers and J.-A.-D. Ingres's harem-themed scenes.
The Demoiselles, however, later renamed Avignon Street in Barcelona, in which sailors could find popular brothels, was seen as an egregious and direct attack on the notion that women were not typical models of beauty but prostitutes who questioned the very culture that they came from. While he had his collectors by then and soon a dealer (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Picasso chose to wrap the canvas of the Demoiselles to keep it hidden for a long time.
In 1908, the black-and-white striations and masklike head were replaced with a method that was based on elements the artist and his friend Georges Braque found in the work of Cezanne, whose narrow space and characteristic outline brushwork is particularly evident in his career from 1909. Still, life, inspired by Cezanne, was also an important theme at the beginning of Picasso's career. Cubist heads of Fernande comprise the Head of a Woman (1909) as well as a number of related paintings, such as Woman with Pears (1909).
Cubism of Pablo Picasso
Picasso and Braque were close collaborators during the years- 1909-12. This was the one, and only occasion Picasso ever worked with a different artist in this manner--and they produced what would later be called Analytical Cubism. The early Cubist paintings were frequently dismissed by critics and the public since they were believed to be just geometric art. But the artists themselves believed that they were showing the world in a different way that was distinct from Renaissance tradition, particularly the use of illusion and perspective.
They showed, for instance, several perspectives from an item on the same painting in order to provide more information than could be contained in one small illusionist perspective.
As Kahnweiler believed looked at it, Cubism was the opening of closed forms through its "representation" of the state of objects. Their location in space, instead of imitation using illusionistic methods as well as the analytic method of breaking things, space and light, shadow and even color, was compared in the work of Apollinaire to the technique by the way surgeons dissect a cadaver.
This type of analysis is typical of Picasso's work from 1909 and is evident in the landscapes he painted during a visit to Spain in the summer of 1909 (Factory of Horta of Ebro). The same style was then followed in 1910 through an array of thematic portraits (Ambroise Vollard, Daniel-Henry Khnweiler) as well as in his work of people sitting, usually playing an instrument (The Accordionist [1911The Accordionist ), Picasso merged figures as well as objects and space in a grid. The Palette was restricted to monochromatic ochres, grays, and browns.
It is not clear whether Braque or Picasso would have wanted to go into the realm of complete abstraction with their Cubist work, even though they implicitly accepted inconsistencies, such as the different viewpoints or axes that were different, as well as various light sources within the same painting. In addition, including both figurative and abstract elements within the same plane prompted both artists to examine what the two-dimensional components, like the lettering on newspapers, resembled.
A song's name, "Ma Jolie," for instance, might refer to other events that are not in the painting. It could be a reference to Picasso's new love, Eva (Marcelle Humbert). However, it could also refer to compositional elements inside the painting, and to the role of flat elements in the picture that are a play on curvilinear or other flat-plane themes. The addition of letters created the strong impression that Cubist images could be read as coming forward from the plane of the picture instead of reclining (in a conventional perspective) into the picture plane. Also, the Cubist's alteration of the shape of the picture--using the oval, for instance--defined the boundaries of the artwork in a way that emphasized the idea that in the case of a Cubist image, the canvas is the actual space.
In 1912 Picasso, as well as Braque, glued real papers (paper colle) as well as other materials (collages) on their canvasses to further into the Cubist idea of the work as a self-contained object. The Synthetic period (1912-14) witnessed the return of color, whereas the actual materials typically featured an industrial theme (e.g., Sand or wallpaper printed). Still lives and, sometimes heads were the main themes in both of the artist's works. In Picasso's work, the many references in his Synthetic compositions--curves that reference guitars, and at the same time, to ears, for example--introduce the play element that is the hallmark of many of his works (Student using a Pipe, 1913and ]) and create the idea that one thing transforms into another. Absinthe Glass is a prime example.
It is partly a sculpture (cast bronze), partly a collage (a real silver sugar strainer is attached to the top), and also partially a painting (Neo-Impressionist brush strokes are covered by planes with white pigment). The work is not collaged, sculpture or painting as planes refer to two-dimensionality, whereas the work actually has three dimensions. The artwork, therefore, straddles the real and the illusion.
In 1915, Picasso's personal life changed, and, in a way, his style changed. In the course of that year, his beloved Eva passed away, and the painting he worked on during the time of her ill health (Harlequin [1915Harlequin ) speaks of his sorrow. It's a half-Harlequin, half-Pierrot artist before an easel is positioned to hold the unfinished canvas against an unpainted black background.
World War I dispersed Picasso's circle. Apollinaire, Braque, and others went to the front, while the majority of Picasso's Spanish fellow countrymen returned to their home country. Picasso was a resident of France in 1916, and his relationship with music composer Erik Satie took him into an avant-garde movement that was active throughout the conflict. The self-appointed leader of this group of artists who frequently visited the Cafe de la Rotonde was the poet Jean Cocteau.
The idea of staging the wartime stage show together alongside Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes resulted in the production of Parade, which was a piece about the circus sideshow which incorporated images of the 21st century, including skyscrapers and aircraft. Cocteau was first introduced to Satie to record the songs and later went to Picasso for the set and costumes. The work began in 1917, and despite the fact that Picasso disliked traveling, he agreed to travel along with Cocteau to Rome and join Diaghilev as well as the choreographer of Parade, Leonide Massine. On that day, Picasso got to know his future bride, Olga Khokhlova, among the dancers.
The Parade premiered in April 1917 in the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris in, France, and was seen as not more than an effort to undermine the cohesion in French culture. Satie appears to be the primary victim of violence (partly due to his inclusion of airplane propellers as well as typewriters in his score) as Picasso was able to disarm the public with his stark contrast between his stage curtain, which was almost real, and the awe-inspiring Synthetic Cubist costumes used by the performers as well as the sideshow directors during the performance.
Picasso's drawings and paintings from his teens are often unusually naturalistic, in contrast to the Cubist work that predated or even merged with these works (Passeig de Colom, 1917). After his trips to Italy and a return visit to Barcelona in 1917, the new spirit of Mediterraneanism was evident throughout his artwork, particularly in using traditional forms and drawing techniques. A conscious retrospection accentuated this towards J.-A.-D. Ingres (for instance the portraits of Picasso that depicted Max Jacob and Ambroise Vollard- 1915) as well as the works of the late Pierre-Auguste-Renoir. The style of Picasso's Cubist work was influenced. Through the clarification of planes, shapes, and colors, Picasso gave his Cubist artworks a classical style (Saint-Raphael still lives  and two forms of the Three Musicians ).
Paulo Picasso, Picasso's only child, was born in 1921. With Picasso's rising status as the darling of socialites, Picasso continued his collaborations with Ballets Russes and produced designs for Manuel de Falla's The Three-Cornered Hat (1919), Stravinsky's Igor's Pulcinella (1920) and de the Falla's Cuadro Flamenco (1921), as well as, with the Soirees de Paris company, Satie's ballet Mercure (1924). Andre Breton called Picasso's designs for the dance "tragic games for grown-ups" designed within the context of Surrealism.
While Picasso was not an officially recognized member, the artist did have close connections to the most important artistic and literary movement that developed between the 2 World Wars, Surrealism. The Surrealist establishment included its principal propagandist Andre Breton and claimed Picasso as their own. Picasso's work gained a new dimension through contact with his Surrealist colleagues, especially writers. The underlying theme of Picasso's work from the time of the Demoiselles was a variety of aspects that the circle favored.
The concept of monsters, for example, can be seen in the spooky contrasts and broken contours of the human form in Cubist works. Breton specifically referred to the bizarre Woman in Chemise (1913). Additionally, the notion of interpreting one thing by another, a concept that was inherent in Synthetic Cubism, seemed to be in line with the dreamlike imagination that the Surrealists were known to have.
The things that the Surrealist movement offered to Picasso were new subjects, particularly sexually explicit ones, as well as the reinforcement of elements that were disturbing which were present in his earlier work. The various variations of the theme of bathers and their explicit sexualized and contorted shapes (Dinard series, 1929) demonstrate the profound effect of Surrealism as well as other works. The impact of distortions on the spectator's emotions could also be understood to achieve some of the psychotic objectives that are the focus of Surrealism (drawings as well as paintings depicting the Crucifixion (from 1930-35).
In the 1930s, Picasso, as well as many other Surrealist writers, frequently experimented with the notion of metamorphosis. For instance, the representation of the minotaur, a monster of Greek mythology, half human and half bull, that was traditionally thought of as a symbol of the conflict between the human and the beast is not just an expression of this idea but also a sort of self-portrait.
In the end, Picasso's unique style of Surrealism discovered its most effective expression in poetry. Picasso began to write poetry around the year 1935, and for one year, between February 1935 and March 1936, Picasso practically gave up drawing. The poems were published in Cahiers of Art (1935) as well as within La Gaceta de Arte (1936, Tenerife), and after a few years, he composed his Surrealist production Le Desir attrape par la queue (1941 (also known as The Desire Caught by the Tail).
Picasso's fame as a significant 20th-century sculptor was only revealed after his death because Picasso had kept a lot of his work in his personal collection. In 1928, Picasso began to work in sheet metal and iron in Julio González's Studio in Paris. In 1930, he bought Chateau Boisgeloup in which he was able to create sculpture studios. There together with his lover Maria-Therese Walter, Picasso began to work in 1931 on massive plaster heads. In the 1930s, he also constructed sculptures using materials he found, and up to the time he died, Picasso continued to create sculptures using different materials.
The privacy of his relationship with Marie-Therese was an interesting contrast to the frantic life of Olga and her social circle of bourgeois acquaintances. When he was in Boisgeloup, Picasso lived secretly with Marie-Therese (with whom he had a child too, Maya, in 1935) and was one of the subjects of his poetic, often erotic paintings, which used intense color and flowing shapes (Girl Before a Mirror, published in 1932).
Picasso was never completely detached from the females who lived with him, even when a new interest occupied his attention. This is evident in Picasso's work. One woman can often turn into another in his drawings. For example, Picasso's private sketchbook (number 99 ) reveals his double life. The pictures of his secret mistress transform into horrifying images of screaming Olgas. He began a relationship in 1936 with Dora Maar, a French photographer. This change in his life was accompanied by a period of personal preoccupation with the Spanish Civil War that had started that year.
Picasso did not return to Spain after visiting in 1934. However, his sympathies were always with Spain. The short-lived Republican government made him the honorary director of Prado. In 1937, a series of etchings and aquatints were produced (Dream and Lie of Franco) to support the Republican cause. Picasso's major contribution was his mural painting Guernica, which was named after the Basque town that the Fascists bombed in 1937. It was commissioned by Congress to be used as a Spanish pavilion at the 1937 World's Fair.
Picasso received a studio on rue des Grands Augustins in Paris to accommodate his enormous canvas (11.5 x 25 feet [3.49 meters x 7.77m]). The final work was completed in three weeks with Dora Maar's assistance. Guernica's imagery--the gored horse and the fallen soldier and screaming mothers with dead children (representing bullfight, war, and female victims, respectively)--was used to condemn the destruction of life. However, the bull was also symbolic of the hope of defeating Fascism.
World War II and After
Picasso's expressive qualities in both the forms and gestures in Guernica's monochromatic composition found their way into his other works, particularly in the highly colored versions including Weeping Woman (1937), as well as in similar prints and drawings such as portraits of Dora Maar (wife of Picasso's friend, the French poet Paul Eluard), and still lives (Still Life with Red Bull's head ). These works were the inspiration for the claustrophobic interiors (sketchbook 110 ) and skull-like drawings (sketchbook #110 ). Picasso spent the war years in France with Maar, as well as Jaime Sabartes, who was a friend from his student days in Barcelona. Sabates was Picasso's secretary, biographer, companion, and, often, the source of endless laughter (Portrait by Jaime Sabartes  and Retour de Bruxelles sketchbook number 137 ).
Picasso was able to exhibit his work again after Paris was liberated. He did so at the Salon d'Automne of 44 ("Salon de la Liberation") where his paintings from the previous five years were greeted with shock. The announcement that Picasso had joined the Communist Party led many to protest Picasso's political views. Picasso also opened his studio to new and old writers and artists, including Pierre Reverdy and Eluard, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Pierre Reverdy. He also invited the photographer Brassai and Roland Penrose from England, as well as Lee Miller and many American GIs.
Francoise Gilot was a young painter who showed herself at Picasso's studio in 1943. She became Picasso's mistress within a few months. Picasso and Gilot moved to the Mediterranean in 1946. They were to have two children together, Claude in 1947 and Paloma (1949). They first stayed in Antibes where Picasso spent four years painting at the Chateau Grimaldi (Joie de Vivre, 1946). Picasso's identification with both the classical tradition as well as his Mediterranean roots is evident in Picasso's paintings and ceramics from that period, which he decorated in the Vallauris studio. They also celebrate Picasso's newfound happiness with Gilot who, in Picasso's works from that period, is often a nymph to Picasso's fauns or centaurs.
Picasso's ceramics are often set apart from his main work. They are considered less important because they appear to be a rather frivolous attempt at the decoration of everyday objects. Picasso was able to rework and paint plates, jugs, and vases made by artisans at Madoura pottery, Vallauris. Working on crafts along with painting gave Picasso a sense of liberation wherein he could experiment with the play between decoration and form. He could work on both dimensions- two and three.
This period saw an immense increase in Picasso's fame, and various people visited him, including artists and writers like Edouard Pignon, Eluard, and Louis Aragon, who also gave a boost to his political activities.
While he was willing to contribute designs (his dove was used in an image on the World Peace Congress poster in Wroclaw, Poland, in 1949), the motivation was not so much out of an obligation to communists but from a genuine and long-lasting sympathy for anyone who was oppressed. War and Peace, two panels, which were commissioned in 1952 to decorate the Temple of Peace attached to an old chapel in Vallauris, depict Picasso's own optimism during those times.
The Picasso Myth
Following World War II, an aura of myth was created around the name Picasso, and in the final years of his life, his work seemed to have, in a sense, transcended criticism. While there were a few critics who could keep up with his most recent works, there were very few who were able to criticize his work. One exception was British reviewer John Berger (The Success and failure of Picasso (1965)), who raised doubts about Picasso's motives for his work and speculated on his overblown public image. Picasso's vast output (especially in drawing and printing) made him a household name among the general public, even though his art was to be distinct from mainstream non-figurative imagery. For instance, in the series that was a part of the methods used in his final time, he utilized images of the figurative to create an element of story within the series' many variations.
In 1953, Francoise Gilot, along with the two kids, left Picasso, and he remained for some time as a bachelor and divided his time between staying in Paris and at his residence at La Californie, near Cannes (from 1955). In 1953, he met Jacqueline Roque, who worked in the pottery shop of Vallauris, and, from 1954 (they got married in the year 1961), she was not only his loyal friend but also his muse. She became his primary model and inspiration for virtually every piece of work he did in his final years. They both are buried at the castle in Vauvenargues that Picasso bought in the year 1958. In the years that followed their wedding until Picasso's death, they lived in the house Notre-Dame-de-Vie located in Mougins.
History of Art
In his final works, Picasso often turned to art's history as the subject matter. He was often driven to develop variations on earlier works. In his many drawings, prints, and paintings from that period, he refers to artists like Albrecht Altdorfer Edouard Manet Rembrandt, Eugene Delacroix, and Gustave Courbet. Picasso produced a full collection of variations of a particular piece of work, the most famous of which is the one on Las Meninas from Velazquez, comprising 58 distinct images.
There were times when Picasso altered a work simply because he was personally connected with the work. For instance, he was enthralled by Delacroix's Femmes d'Alger because the figure on the right resembled Jacqueline. In many instances, he was enthralled by the need to solve by his own means the intricate narrative and pictorial problems that older artists initially posed for themselves. In a way, Picasso is writing his own part in the world's history of art through this relationship with artists who were his predecessors.
There is a renewed feeling of fun in Picasso's last period. He transformed cut-outs of paper into massive sculptures. And in the film of Henri-Georges Clouzot Le Mystere Picasso (1956), The artist, who is the sole protagonist, acts as a conjurer using his brushes. Finally, as his attention was drawn to the artworks of the masters of the past and reworking their works with a variety of variations, he also turned to his earlier work in response to the same urge. The circus and artist's studio were once more the stage for his characters, in which he would often place himself as an old circus performer or a king.
Since Picasso's art prior to the period of the Demoiselles was radical in nature, practically every artist of the 20th century could not escape his influence. In addition, while other masters like Henri Matisse or Braque tended to stay within certain boundaries in terms of style, Picasso continued to be an innovator throughout the final 10 years of his career. This led to confusion and ridicule both during his lifetime as well as afterward the time in the late 1980s that his most famous paintings were praised as a whole due to their significant influence on the new generation of young artists.
Because Picasso was able, until the 1920s, to market his work for very high prices, he was able to hold the bulk of his works in his personal collection. In the years prior to his death, he had 50,000 works in different media from all the phases of his life, some of which were subsequently transferred to the possession of the French state and the remainder to his successors. The exhibition and publication of these works allowed for the highest estimates of Picasso's incredible ability to invent and execute over a span of nearly 80 years.
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