Pablo Picasso has left behind not only a void in the art world, but also paintings that are a human legacy. His death revealed the true patron of art that he was, with the discovery of collections of famous contemporaries like Matisse. His life, spanning from 1881 to 1973, has been the most studied and appreciated among contemporary artists. This Spanish painter and sculptor was one of the most revered artists of the 20th
century. He not only co-founded the Cubist Movement, but went on to use the versatile dimension to depict German warfare during the Spanish Civil War.
His work is best understood in 'periods'. These included 'Blue'
from 1901-1904, 'Rose'
from 1905-1907, 'African'
1908-1909, 'Analytic Cubism'
1909-1912, and 'Synthetic Cubism'
1912-1919. Let us take a look at his childhood and life in the below sections.
Birth of a Genius
Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain. He was born on October 25, 1881 and baptized as Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. In fact, his name is the product of worship and honor, to saints and relatives. He was the first child of Don José Ruiz Blasco and María Picasso López. He grew up in a middle-class family. His father was a naturalistic painter and a professor of art.
From an early age, he displayed a passion for drawing. According to his mother, his first words were "piz "piz", which a short form for Iapiz, a Spanish word meaning "pencil". From the tender age of seven, he began receiving formal training from his father. He learned oil painting and figure drawing. He was taught how to draw the human body from casts made of plaster and various live models. The family starved when his father took the decision to move to La Coruña in 1891, to join the School of Fine Arts. Picasso's father is believed to have vowed never to indulge in painting again, when he saw a painting by the then 13-year-old Pablo, an unfinished sketch of a pigeon drawn with such precision. The precision was just too much to ignore.
With the death of his seven-year-old sister in 1895, the family relocated to Barcelona. Picasso gave the entrance exam at the School Fine Arts for the advanced class and impressed the jury. He was just 13! Ruiz and his son argued frequently on sketches and drawings. The result was a refinement that earned him an entry into the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid. However, instead of making the most of formal instruction, he stopped attending classes. The young lad was more impressed by paintings by Diego Velázquez and Francisco Zurbarán. His own art borrowed the elegance of elongated limbs, capturing color and the mystical aspects and features of the faces.
Picasso would sleep during the day and work at night, despite poverty and desperation. In Madrid, he co-founded an art magazine Arte Joven with his anarchist pal Francisco de Asís Soler. While Soler took care of the articles, Picasso illustrated with political cartoons. His first issue got published on March 31, 1901, and by that time, he had started signing his works as 'Picasso'
The Blue Period
The years 1901-1904 are known as Picasso's Blue Period. This is because nearly all his paintings during this time were dominated by the color blue. He was greatly influenced by a trip to Spain and by the death of his close friend, Carlos Casagemas. Deeply depressed and lonely these years, he painted scenes of poverty and isolation, all in shades of blue and green. The most famous paintings from this period were "Blue Nude", "La Vie", and "The Old Guitarist".
The Rose Period
The years between 1904-1906 was the Rose Period. It was more of a cheerful period, with his paintings being in orange and pink. In due time, he was a major contributor to the American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein. He painted portraits and other themes for patronized exhibitions. Among his friends were André Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire the poet and author Alfred Jarry. His most famous paintings during that time include "Family at Saltimbanques", "Gertrude Stein", and "Two Nudes".
In 1907, Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
, which is considered the precursor and inspiration of Cubism, a style that was developed by him and his friend Georges Braque during 1909-1912, using monochrome and brownish and other natural colors. His work became more abstract and gave out collage-like effects. The most popular Cubist paintings include "Still Life with Chair Caning", "Three Musicians", and "Fruit Dish".
When Picasso met Fernande Olivier, his mistress for a while during the Rose Period, he made her his theme in many of his 'Rose' paintings. However, she could not hold on to him for long and he moved into a relationship with Marcelle Humbert. He would refer to her as Eva Gouel and openly declared his love for her in the Cubist works. Her premature death due to illness at 30, left Picasso devastated. Picasso married twice and fathered four children. He had many affairs subsequently and each of the women were immortalized in his art.
Picasso also enjoyed a film career. He made a cameo appearance in a Jean Cocteau experiment. He always played 'Picasso the artist'. In 1955, he was part of Le Mystère Picasso, a film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. He remained neutral in World War I. He expressed anger at the fascists through his paintings. He joined the French Communist Party in 1944. He even received the Lenin Peace Prize in 1950 from the Soviet government. He remained loyal to the Communist Party to the end. He did not refrain from expressing concern over U.N. intervention in the Korean Civil War.
Pablo Picasso died in France, in 1973. Even today, he remains one of the most renowned and notable painters the world has seen. His works have become the most valuable pieces of art all over the world.