Pablo Ruiz Picasso (October 25, 1881 April 8, 1973) was a Spanish
painter and sculptor. His full name is Pablo Diego José Francisco
de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispín Crispiniano
de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. One of the most recognized
figures in 20th century art, he is best known as the co-founder, along
with Georges Braque, of cubism. It has been estimated that Picasso produced
about 13,500 paintings or designs, 100,000 prints or engravings, 34,000
book illustrations and 300 sculptures or ceramics.
Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain, the first child of José
Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y López. He was christened
with the names Pablo, Diego, José, Francisco de Paula, Juan Nepomuceno,
Maria de los Remedios, and Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad.
Picasso's father was Jose Ruíz, a painter whose specialty was
the naturalistic depiction of birds, and who for most of his life was
also a professor of art at the School of Crafts and a curator of a local
museum. The young Picasso showed a passion and a skill for drawing from
an early age; according to his mother, his first word was "piz,"
a shortening of lapiz, the Spanish word for pencil. It was from his father
that Picasso had his first formal academic art training, such as figure
drawing and painting in oil. Although Picasso attended carpenter schools
throughout his childhood, often those where his father taught, he never
finished his college-level course of study at the Academy of Arts (Academia
de San Fernando) in Madrid, leaving after less than a year.
In the early years of the twentieth century, Picasso, still a struggling
youth, divided his time between Barcelona and Paris, where, in 1904, he
began a long term relationship with Fernande Olivier. It is she who appears
in many of the Rose period paintings. After garnering fame and some fortune,
Picasso left Olivier for Marcelle Humbert, whom Picasso called Eva. Picasso
included declarations of his love for Eva in many Cubist works.
In Paris, Picasso entertained a distinguished coterie of friends in the
Montmartre and Montparnasse quarters, including André Breton, Guillaume
Apollinaire, and writer Gertrude Stein. He maintained a number of mistresses
in addition to his wife or primary partner. Picasso was married twice
and had four children by three women.
In 1918, Picasso married Olga Khokhlova, a ballerina with Sergei Diaghilev's
troupe, for whom Picasso was designing a ballet, Parade, in Rome. Khokhlova
introduced Picasso to high society, formal dinner parties, and all the
social niceties attendant on the life of the rich in 1920s Paris. The
two had a son, Paulo, who would grow up to be a dissolute motorcycle racer
and chauffeur to his father.
Khokhlova's insistence on social propriety clashed with Picasso's bohemian
tendencies and the two lived in a state of constant conflict. In 1927
Picasso met 17 year old Marie-Thérèse Walter and began a
secret affair with her. Picasso's marriage to Khokhlova soon ended in
separation rather than divorce, as French law required an even division
of property in the case of divorce, and Picasso did not want Khokhlova
to have half his wealth. The two remained legally married until Khokhlova's
death in 1955.
Picasso carried on a long-standing affair with Walter and fathered a
daughter, Maia, with her. Marie-Thérèse lived in the vain
hope that Picasso would one day marry her, and hanged herself four years
after Picasso's death.
The photographer and painter Dora Maar was also a constant companion
and lover of Picasso. The two were closest in the late 1930s and early
1940s and it was Maar who documented the painting of Guernica.
After the liberation of Paris in 1944, Picasso began to keep company
with a young art student, Françoise Gilot. The two eventually became
lovers, and had two children together, Claude and Paloma. Unique among
Picasso's women, Gilot left Picasso in 1953, allegedly because of abusive
treatment and infidelities. This came as a severe blow to Picasso.
He went through a difficult period after Gilot's departure, coming to
terms with his advancing age and his perception that, now in his 70s,
he was no longer attractive, but rather grotesque to young women. A number
of ink drawings from this period explore this theme of the hideous old
dwarf as buffoonish counterpoint to the beautiful young girl, including
several from a six-week affair with Geneviève Laporte, who in June
2005 auctioned off the drawings Picasso made of her.
Picasso was not long in finding another lover, Jacqueline Roque. Roque
worked at the Madoura Pottery, where Picasso made and painted ceramics.
The two remained together for the rest of Picasso's life, marrying in
1961. Their marriage was also the means of one last act of revenge against
Gilot. Gilot had been seeking a legal means to legitimize her children
with Picasso, Claude and Paloma. With Picasso's encouragement, she had
arranged to divorce her then husband, Luc Simon, and marry Picasso to
secure her children's rights. Picasso then secretly married Roque after
Gilot had filed for divorce in order to exact his revenge for her leaving
Picasso had constructed a huge gothic structure and could afford large
villas in the south of France, at Notre-dame-de-vie on the outskirts of
Mougins, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. Although he was a celebrity,
there was often as much interest in his personal life as his art.
In addition to his manifold artistic accomplishments, Picasso had a film
career, including a cameo appearance in Jean Cocteau's Testament of Orpheus.
Picasso always played himself in his film appearances. In 1955 he helped
make the film Le Mystère Picasso (The Mystery of Picasso) directed
by Henri-Georges Clouzot.
Pablo Picasso died on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France, while Picasso
and his wife Jacqueline entertained friends for dinner. His final words
were "Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can't drink any
more." He was interred at Castle Vauvenargues' park, in Vauvenargues,
Bouches-du-Rhône. Jacqueline Roque prevented his children Claude
and Paloma from attending the funeral.
Picasso remained neutral during the Spanish Civil War, World War I and
World War II, refusing to fight for any side or country. Picasso never
commented on this but encouraged the idea that it was because he was a
pacifist. Some of his contemporaries (including Braque) felt that this
neutrality had more to do with cowardice than principle. As a Spanish
citizen living in France, Picasso was under no compulsion to fight against
the invading Germans in either world war. In the Spanish Civil War, service
for Spaniards living abroad was optional and would have involved a voluntary
return to the country to join either side. While Picasso expressed anger
and condemnation of Franco and the Fascists through his art he did not
take up arms against them.
He also remained aloof from the Catalan independence movement during
his youth despite expressing general support and being friendly with activists
within it. No political movement seemed to compel his support to any great
degree, though he did become a member of the Communist Party.
During the Second World War, Picasso remained in Paris when the Germans
occupied the city. The Nazis hated his style of painting, so he was not
able to show his works during this time. Retreating to his studio, he
continued to paint all the while. Although the Germans outlawed bronze
casting in Paris, Picasso continued regardless, using bronze smuggled
to him by the French resistance.
Arguably Picasso's most famous work is his depiction of the German bombing
of Gernika, Spain Guernica. This large canvas embodies for many
the inhumanity, brutality and hopelessness of war.
After the Second World War, Picasso rejoined the French Communist Party,
and even attended an international peace conference in Poland. But party
criticism of a portrait of Stalin as insufficiently realistic cooled Picasso's
interest in Communist politics, though he remained a loyal member of the
Communist Party until his death. His beliefs tended towards anarcho-communism.
Picasso's work is often categorized 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 (19011904), the Rose Period
(19051907), the African-influenced Period (19081909), Analytic
Cubism (19091912), and Synthetic Cubism (19121919).
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; by 1894 his career as a painter can be said
to begin. 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 has been
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 nonnaturalistic 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 favorite old masters such as El Greco,
led Picasso to a personal version of modernism in his works of this period.
For more details on this topic, see Picasso's Blue Period.
Picasso's Blue Period (19011904) consists of somber paintings rendered
in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors.
This period's starting point is uncertain; it may have begun in Spain
in the spring of 1901, or in Paris in the second half of the year. In
his austere use of color and sometimes doleful subject matterprostitutes
and beggars are frequent subjectsPicasso was influenced by a trip
through Spain and by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. Starting
in autumn of 1901 he painted several posthumous portraits of Casagemas,
culminating in the gloomy allegorical painting La Vie, painted in 1903
and now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The same mood pervades the well-known etching The Frugal Repast (1904),
which depicts a blind man and a sighted woman, both emaciated, seated
at a nearly bare table. Blindness is a recurrent theme in Picasso's works
of this period, also represented in The Blindman's Meal (1903, the Metropolitan
Museum of Art) and in the portrait of Celestina (1903). Other frequent
subjects are artists, acrobats and harlequins. The harlequin, a comedic
character usually depicted in checkered patterned clothing, became a personal
symbol for Picasso.
For more details on this topic, see Picasso's Rose Period.
The Rose Period (19051907) is characterized by a more cheery style
with orange and pink colors, and again featuring many harlequins. Picasso
met Fernande Olivier, a model for sculptors and artists, in Paris in 1904,
and many of these paintings are influenced by his warm relationship with
her, in addition to his increased exposure to French painting.
For more details on this topic, see Picasso's African Period.
Picasso's African-influenced Period (19071909) begins with the
two figures on the right in his painting, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which
were inspired by African artifacts. Formal ideas developed during this
period lead directly into the Cubist period that follows.
For more details on this topic, see Analytic Cubism.
Analytic Cubism (19091912) is a style of painting Picasso developed
along with Braque using monochrome brownish colours. Both artists took
apart objects and "analyzed" them in terms of their shapes.
Picasso and Braque's paintings at this time are very similar to each other.
For more details on this topic, see Synthetic Cubism.
Synthetic Cubism (19121919) is a further development of Cubism
in which cut paper fragmentsoften wallpaper or portions of newspaper
pagesare pasted into compositions, marking the first use of collage
in fine art.
Classicism and Surrealism
In the period following the upheaval of World War I Picasso produced
work in a neoclassical style. This "return to order" is evident
in the work of many European artists in the 1920s, including Derain, Giorgio
de Chirico, and the artists of the New Objectivity movement. Picasso's
paintings and drawings from this period frequently recall the work of
During the 1930s, the minotaur replaced the harlequin as a motif which
he used often in his work. His use of the minotaur came partly from his
contact with the surrealists, who often used it as their symbol, and appears
in Picasso's Guernica.
Arguably Picasso's most famous work is his depiction of the German bombing
of Gernika, Spain Guernica. This large canvas embodies for many
the inhumanity, brutality and hopelessness of war. Guernica hung in New
York's Museum of Modern Art for many years. In 1981 Guernica was returned
to Spain and exhibited at the Casón del Buen Retiro. In 1992 the
painting hung in Madrid's Reina Sofía Museum when it opened.
Picasso was one of 250 sculptors who exhibited in the 3rd Sculpture International
held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the summer of 1949. In the 1950s
Picasso's style changed once again, as he took to producing reinterpretations
of the art of the great masters. He made a series of works based on Velazquez's
painting of Las Meninas. He also based paintings on works of art by Goya,
Poussin, Manet, Courbet and Delacroix.
He was commissioned to make a maquette for a huge 50 foot high public
sculpture to be built in Chicago, known usually as the Chicago Picasso.
He approached the project with a great deal of enthusiasm, designing a
sculpture which was ambiguous and somewhat controversial. What the figure
represents is not known; it could be a bird, a horse, a woman or a totally
abstract shape. The sculpture, one of the most recognizable landmarks
in downtown Chicago, was unveiled in 1967. Picasso refused to be paid
$100,000 for it, donating it to the people of the city.
Picasso's final works were a mixture of styles, his means of expression
in constant flux until the end of his life. Devoting his full energies
to his work, Picasso became more daring, his works more colourful and
expressive, and from 1968 through 1971 he produced a torrent of paintings
and hundreds of copperplate etchings. At the time these works were dismissed
by most as pornographic fantasies of an impotent old man or the slapdash
works of an artist who was past his prime. One long time admirer, Douglas
Cooper, called them "the incoherent scribblings of a frenetic old
man". Only later, after Picasso's death, when the rest of the art
world had moved on from abstract expressionism, did the critical community
come to see that Picasso had already discovered neo-expressionism and
was, as so often before, ahead of his time.
At the time of his death many of his paintings were in his possession,
as he had kept off the art market what he didn't 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.
The Museu Picasso in Barcelona features many of Picasso's early works,
created while he was living in Spain, including many rarely seen works
which reveal Picasso's firm grounding in classical techniques. The museum
also holds many precise and detailed figure studies done in his youth
under his father's tutelage, as well as the extensive collection of Jaime
Sabartés, Picasso's close friend from his Barcelona days who, for
many years, was Picasso's personal secretary.
In the aftermath of Picasso's death, at the suggestion of Dustin Hoffman,
Paul McCartney wrote a song entitled "Picasso's Last Words (Drink
To Me)" in tribute to him which was released on his album Band on
the Run later that year.
The film Surviving Picasso was made about Picasso in 1996, as seen through
the eyes of Françoise Gilot. Anthony Hopkins played Picasso in
Some paintings by Picasso rank among the most expensive paintings in
* "Nude on a Black Armchair" - sold for USD $45.1 million
in 1999 to Les Wexner, who then donated it to the Wexner Center for the
* Les Noces de Pierrette - sold for more than USD $51 million in 1999.
* Garçon à la pipe- sold for USD $104 million at Sotheby's
on May 4, 2004, establishing a new price record.
* Dora Maar au Chat - sold for USD $95.2 million at Sotheby's on May 3,
Pablo Picasso. (2007, January 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Retrieved 08:43, February 2, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pablo_Picasso&oldid=103207042
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