It’s Day 103 and I have Pablo Picasso today…another huge artist in history that I’ve been excited and dreading to do. The amount of paintings and evolution of style of this man is astounding! I decided to focus on the style he was most famous for, cubism! Join me in celebrating Pablo Picasso today!
Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, also known as Pablo Picasso (Spanish: [ˈpaβlo piˈkaso]; 25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973), was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a portrayal of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp are regarded as the three artists who most defined
the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting, sculpture, printmaking and ceramics.
Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th century, his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His work is often categorised into periods. While the names of many of his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in his work are the Blue Period (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1904–1906), the African-influenced Period (1907–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919).
Exceptionally prolific throughout the course of his long life, Picasso achieved universal renown and immense fortune for his revolutionary artistic accomplishments, and became one of the best-known figures in 20th-century art.
Picasso was baptised Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad, a series of names honouring various saints and relatives. Added to these were Ruiz and Picasso, for his father and mother, respectively, as per Spanish law. Born in the city of Málaga in the Andalusian region of Spain, he was the first child of Don José Ruiz y Blasco (1838–1913) and María Picasso y López. Despite being baptised Catholic, Picasso would later on become an atheist. Picasso’s family was middle-class. His father was a painter who specialised in naturalistic depictions of birds and other game. For most of his life Ruiz was a professor of art at the School of Crafts and a curator of a local museum. Ruiz’s ancestors were minor aristocrats.
Picasso showed a passion and a skill for drawing from an early age. According to his mother, his
first words were “piz, piz”, a shortening oflápiz, the Spanish word for “pencil”. From the age of seven, Picasso received formal artistic training from his father in figure drawing and oil painting. Ruiz was a traditional academic artist and instructor, who believed that proper training required disciplined copying of the masters, and drawing the human body from plaster casts and live models. His son became preoccupied with art to the detriment of his classwork.
The family moved to A Coruña in 1891, where his father became a professor at the School of Fine Arts. They stayed almost four years. On one occasion, the father found his son painting over his unfinished sketch of a pigeon. Observing the precision of his son’s technique, anapocryphal story relates, Ruiz felt that the thirteen-year-old Picasso had surpassed him, and vowed to give up painting, though paintings by him exist from later years.
In 1895, Picasso was traumatised when his seven-year-old sister, Conchita, died of diphtheria. After her death, the family moved to Barcelona, where Ruiz took a position at its School of Fine Arts. Picasso thrived in the city, regarding it in times of sadness or nostalgia as his true home. Ruiz persuaded the officials at the academy to allow his son to take an entrance exam for the advanced class. This process often took students a month, but Picasso completed it in a week, and the jury admitted him, at just 13. The student lacked discipline but made friendships that would affect him in later life. His father rented a small room for him close to home so he could work alone, yet he checked up on him numerous times a day, judging his drawings. The two argued frequently.
Picasso’s father and uncle decided to send the young artist to Madrid’s Royal Academy of San Fernando, the country’s foremost art school. At age 16, Picasso set off for the first time on his own, but he disliked formal instruction and stopped attending classes soon after enrollment. Madrid held many other attractions. The Prado housed paintings by Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and Francisco Zurbarán. Picasso especially admired the works of El Greco; elements such as his elongated limbs, arresting colours, and mystical visages are echoed in Picasso’s later work.
Picasso’s training under his father began before 1890. His progress can be traced in the collection of
early works now held by the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, which provides one of the most comprehensive records extant of any major artist’s beginnings. During 1893 the juvenile quality of his earliest work falls away, and by 1894 his career as a painter can be said to have begun. The academic realism apparent in the works of the mid-1890s is well displayed in The First Communion (1896), a large composition that depicts his sister, Lola. In the same year, at the age of 14, he painted Portrait of Aunt Pepa, a vigorous and dramatic portrait that Juan-Eduardo Cirlot has called “without a doubt one of the greatest in the whole history of Spanish painting.”
In 1897 his realism became tinged with Symbolist influence, in a series of landscape paintings rendered in non-naturalistic violet and green tones. What some call his Modernist period (1899–1900) followed. His exposure to the work of Rossetti, Steinlen, Toulouse-Lautrec and Edvard Munch, combined with his admiration for favourite old masters such as El Greco, led Picasso to a personal version of modernism in his works of this period.
Picasso made his first trip to Paris in 1900, then the art capital of Europe. There, he met his first Parisian friend, journalist and poet Max Jacob, who helped Picasso learn the language and its literature. Soon they shared an apartment; Max slept at night while Picasso slept during the day and worked at night. These were times of severe poverty, cold, and desperation. Much of his work was burned to keep the small room warm. During the first five months of 1901, Picasso lived in Madrid, where he and his anarchist friend Francisco de Asís Soler founded the magazineArte Joven (Young Art), which published five issues. Soler solicited articles and Picasso illustrated the journal, mostly contributing grim cartoons depicting and sympathising with the state of the poor. The first issue was published on 31 March 1901, by which time the artist had started to sign his work Picasso; before he had signed Pablo Ruiz y Picasso.
Analytic cubism (1909–1912) is a style of painting Picasso developed with Georges Braque using monochrome brownish and neutral colours. Both artists took apart objects and “analyzed” them in terms of their shapes. Picasso and Braque’s paintings at this time share many similarities. Synthetic cubism (1912–1919) was a further development of the genre, in which cut paper fragments – often wallpaper or portions of newspaper pages – were pasted into compositions, marking the first use of collage in fine art.
In Paris, Picasso entertained a distinguished coterie of friends in the Montmartre and Montparnasse quarters, including André Breton, poet Guillaume Apollinaire, writer Alfred Jarry, and Gertrude Stein. Apollinaire was arrested on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. Apollinaire pointed to his friend Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.
Picasso was exceptionally prolific throughout his long lifetime. The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000,
comprising 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.
The medium in which Picasso made his most important contribution was painting. In his paintings, Picasso used color as an expressive element, but relied on drawing rather than subtleties of color to create form and space. He sometimes added sand to his paint to vary its texture. A nanoprobe of Picasso’s The Red Armchair (1931) by physicists at Argonne National Laboratory in 2012 confirmed art historians’ belief that Picasso used common house paint in many of his paintings. Much of his painting was done at night by artificial light.
Picasso’s early sculptures were carved from wood or modeled in wax or clay, but from 1909 to 1928 Picasso abandoned modeling and instead made sculptural constructions using diverse materials. An example is Guitar (1912), a relief construction made of sheet metal and wire that Jane Fluegel terms a “three-dimensional planar counterpart of Cubist painting” that marks a “revolutionary departure from the traditional approaches, modeling and carving”.
From the beginning of his career, Picasso displayed an interest in subject matter of every kind, and demonstrated a great stylistic versatility that enabled him to work in several styles at once. For example, his paintings of 1917 included the pointillist Woman with a Mantilla, the Cubist Figure in an Armchair, and the naturalistic Harlequin (all in the Museu Picasso, Barcelona). In 1919, he made a number of drawings from postcards and photographs that reflect his interest in the stylistic conventions and static character of posed photographs. In 1921 he simultaneously painted several large neoclassical paintings and two versions of the Cubist composition Three Musicians(Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art). In an interview published in 1923, Picasso said, “The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution, or as steps towards an unknown ideal of painting … If the subjects I have wanted to express have suggested different ways of expression I have never hesitated to adopt them.”
Although his Cubist works approach abstraction, Picasso never relinquished the objects of the real world as subject matter. Prominent in his Cubist paintings are forms easily recognized as guitars, violins, and bottles. When Picasso depicted complex narrative scenes it was usually in prints, drawings, and small-scale works; Guernica (1937) is one of his few large narrative paintings.
Picasso painted mostly from imagination or memory. According to William Rubin, Picasso “could only make great art from subjects that truly
involved him …. Unlike Matisse, Picasso had eschewed models virtually all his mature life, preferring to paint individuals whose lives had both impinged on, and had real significance for, his own.” The art critic Arthur Danto said Picasso’s work constitutes a “vast pictorial autobiography” that provides some basis for the popular conception that “Picasso invented a new style each time he fell in love with a new woman”. The autobiographical nature of Picasso’s art is reinforced by his habit of dating his works, often to the day. He explained: “I want to leave to posterity a documentation that will be as complete as possible. That’s why I put a date on everything I do.”
At the time of his death many of his paintings were in his possession, as he had kept off the art
market what he did not need to sell. In addition, Picasso had a considerable collection of the work of other famous artists, some his contemporaries, such as Henri Matisse, with whom he had exchanged works. Since Picasso left no will, his death duties (estate tax) to the French state were paid in the form of his works and others from his collection. These works form the core of the immense and representative collection of the Musée Picasso in Paris. In 2003, relatives of Picasso inaugurated a museum dedicated to him in his birthplace, Málaga, Spain, the Museo Picasso Málaga.
Partial biography is from wikipedia.
I hope you enjoy my tribute to Pablo Picasso! It was a joy to paint and not as intimidating as I first thought it would be. I just had to let go and let the colors fly. 🙂 See you tomorrow on Day 104. Best, Linda
wow! fabulous tribute to a true modern master, love the graphic styling and vivid colors.
Thanks so much! It was a joy to paint. 🙂