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About Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso (Spanish pronunciation: ['paβlo rwiθ pi'kaso]; 25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, draughtsman, and sculptor who lived most of his adult life in France. He is best known for co-founding the Cubist movement and for the wide variety of styles embodied in his work. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937), his portrayal of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso demonstrated uncanny 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 revolutionary artistic accomplishments brought him universal renown and immense fortune throughout his life, making him one of the best-known figures in 20th century art.
Picasso was baptized 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. Picasso’s family was middle-class; his father was also a painter who specialized 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 of lápiz, 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, Ruiz felt that the thirteen-year-old Picasso had surpassed him, and vowed to give up painting.
In 1895, Picasso's seven-year old sister, Conchita, died of diphtheria—a traumatic event in his life. 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 impressed jury admitted Picasso, who was 13. The student lacked discipline but made friendships that would affect him in later life. His father rented him a small room close to home so Picasso could work alone, yet Ruiz checked up on him numerous times a day, judging his son’s 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. In 1897, Picasso, age 16, set off for the first time on his own, but he disliked formal instruction and quit attending classes soon after enrollment. Madrid, however, held many other attractions: the Prado housed paintings by the venerable Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and Francisco Zurbarán. Picasso especially admired the works of El Greco; their elements, the elongated limbs, arresting colors, and mystical visages, are echoed in Picasso’s œuvre.
After studying art in Madrid, Picasso made his first trip to Paris in 1900, then the art capital of Europe. There, he met his first Parisian friend, the 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 magazine Arte Joven (Young Art), which published five issues. Soler solicited articles and Picasso illustrated the journal, mostly contributing grim cartoons depicting and sympathizing 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 simply Picasso, while before he had signed Pablo Ruiz y Picasso.
By 1905 Picasso became a favorite of the American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein. Their older brother Michael Stein and his wife Sarah also became collectors of his work. Picasso painted portraits of both Gertrude Stein and her nephew Allan Stein. Gertrude Stein became Picasso's principal patron, acquiring his drawings and paintings and exhibiting them in her informal Salon at her home in Paris. At one of her gatherings in 1905, he met Henri Matisse, who was to become a lifelong friend and rival. The Steins introduced him to Claribel Cone and her sister Etta who were American art collectors; they also began to acquire Picasso and Matisse's paintings. Eventually Leo Stein moved to Italy, and Michael and Sarah Stein became patrons of Matisse; while Gertrude Stein continued to collect Picasso.
In 1907 Picasso joined the art gallery that had recently been opened in Paris by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. Kahnweiler was a German art historian, art collector who became one of the premier French art dealers of the 20th century. He became prominent in Paris beginning in 1907 for being among the first champions of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Cubism. Kahnweiler championed burgeoning artists such as André Derain, Kees Van Dongen, Fernand Léger, Juan Gris, Maurice de Vlaminck and several others who had come from all over the globe to live and work in Montparnasse at the time.
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. Apollonaire pointed to his friend Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.
In the early 20th century, Picasso divided his time between Barcelona and Paris. In 1904, in the middle of a storm, he met Fernande Olivier, a Bohemian artist who became his mistress. Olivier appears in many of his Rose period paintings. After acquiring fame and some fortune, Picasso left Olivier for Marcelle Humbert, whom he called Eva Gouel. Picasso included declarations of his love for Eva in many Cubist works. Picasso was devastated by her premature death from illness at the age of 30 in 1915.
After World War I, Picasso made a number of important relationships with figures associated with Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Among his friends during this period were Jean Cocteau, Jean Hugo, Juan Gris and others. In the summer of 1918, Picasso married Olga Khokhlova, a ballerina with Sergei Diaghilev’s troupe, for whom Picasso was designing a ballet, Parade, in Rome; and they spent their honeymoon in the villa near Biarritz of the glamorous Chilean art patron Eugenia Errázuriz. 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. During the same period that Picasso collaborated with Diaghilev’s troup, he and Igor Stravinsky collaborated on Pulcinella in 1920. Picasso took the opportunity to make several drawings of the composer.
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 Marie-Thérèse 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. Throughout his life Picasso maintained a number of mistresses in addition to his wife or primary partner. Picasso was married twice and had four children by three women.
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.
War years and beyond
During the Second World War, Picasso remained in Paris while the Germans occupied the city. Picasso’s artistic style did not fit the Nazi views of art, so he was not able to show his works during this time. Retreating to his studio, he continued to paint all the while, producing works such as the Still Life with Guitar (1942) and The Charnel House (1944–48). Although the Germans outlawed bronze casting in Paris, Picasso continued regardless, using bronze smuggled to him by the French Resistance.
In 1944, after the liberation of Paris, Picasso started a new relationship with a young art student, named Françoise Gilot (born 1921) and who was 40 years younger than him. Having grown tired of his mistress Dora Maar, Picasso and Gilot began to live together. Eventually they had two children, Claude born in 1947 and Paloma born in 1949. His relationship with Gilot ended in 1953, when she and the children walked out on him. In her 1964 book Life with Picasso, she explains the breakup as being because of abusive treatment and Picasso's infidelities. This came as a severe blow to Picasso.
After his relationship with Gilot fell apart, and she left; Picasso continued to have affairs with even younger women than Françoise. While still involved with Gilot in 1951 Picasso had a six-week affair with Geneviève Laporte (1926), who in June 2005 auctioned off drawings that Picasso made of her and gave to her as a gift. Eventually Picasso began to come to terms with his advancing age and his waning attraction to young women, by incorporating the idea into his new work; expressing the perception that, now in his 70s, he had become a grotesque and comic figure to young women. A number of works including paintings, ink drawings and prints from this period explore the theme of the hideous old dwarf as accompaniment to and doting lover of a beautiful young model.
Jacqueline Roque (1927–1986) who worked at the Madoura Pottery in Vallauris on the French Riviera, where Picasso made and painted ceramics became his lover, and in 1961 his second wife. The two were together for the remainder of Picasso’s life. Gilot had been seeking a legal means to legitimize her children with Picasso and his marriage to Roque was also the means of Picasso's final act of revenge against Gilot. With Picasso’s encouragement, she had divorced her then husband, Luc Simon, with the plan to finally actually marry Picasso; securing her children’s rights as Picasso's legitimate heirs. However Picasso had already secretly married Roque after Gilot had filed for divorce. Denying Gilot, thus exacting his revenge for her walking out on him, and leaving his children Claude and Paloma estranged in their relationship with him.
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. By this time he was a celebrity, and 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 8 April 1973 in Mougins, France, while he 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 the Chateau of Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, a property he had acquired in 1958 and occupied with Jacqueline between 1959 and 1962. Jacqueline Roque prevented his children Claude and Paloma from attending the funeral. Devastated and lonely after the death of Picasso, Jacqueline Roque took her own life by gunshot in 1986 when she was 60 years old.
* Paulo (4 February 1921 – 5 June 1975) (Born Paul Joseph Picasso) — with Olga Khokhlova
* Maya (5 September 1935 – ) (Born Maria de la Concepcion Picasso) — with Marie-Thérèse Walter
* Claude (15 May 1947 –) (Born Claude Pierre Pablo Picasso) — with Françoise Gilot
* Paloma (19 April 1949 – ) (Born Anne Paloma Picasso) — with Françoise Gilot
Picasso remained neutral during World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II, refusing to fight for any side or country. 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 Francisco Franco and 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.
In 1944 Picasso joined the French Communist Party, attended an international peace conference in Poland, and in 1950 received the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet government. 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. In a 1945 interview with Jerome Seckler, Picasso stated: “I am a Communist and my painting is Communist painting. ... But if I were a shoemaker, Royalist or Communist or anything else, I would not necessarily hammer my shoes in a special way to show my politics.” His Communist militancy, not uncommon among intellectuals and artists at the time although it was officially banned in Francoist Spain, has long been the subject of some controversy; a notable source or demonstration thereof was a sarcastic quote commonly attributed to Salvador Dalí (with whom Picasso had a rather strained relationship), ostensibly casting doubt on the true honesty of his political allegiances:
According to Jean Cocteau's diaries, Picasso once said to him in reference to the communists: "I have joined a family, and like all families, it's full of shit".
He was against the intervention of the United Nations and the United States in the Korean War and he depicted it in Massacre in Korea. In 1962, he received the International Lenin Peace Prize.
Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth. ”
— Pablo Picasso
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 (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1905–1907), the African-influenced Period (1908–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919).
In 1939–40 the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, under its director Alfred Barr, a Picasso enthusiast, held a major and highly successful retrospective of his principal works up until that time. This exhibition lionized the artist, brought into full public view in America the scope of his artistry, and resulted in a reinterpretation of his work by contemporary art historians and scholars.
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 favorite old masters such as El Greco, led Picasso to a personal version of modernism in his works of this period.
Picasso’s Blue Period (1901–1904) 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. Many paintings of gaunt mothers with children date from this period. In his austere use of color and sometimes doleful subject matter—prostitutes and beggars are frequent subjects—Picasso 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 (1903), 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 works include Portrait of Soler and Portrait of Suzanne Bloch.
The Rose Period (1904–1906) is characterized by a more cheery style with orange and pink colors, and featuring many circus people, acrobats and harlequins known in France as saltimbanques. The harlequin, a comedic character usually depicted in checkered patterned clothing, became a personal symbol for Picasso. 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. The generally upbeat and optimistic mood of paintings in this period is reminiscent of the 1899–1901 period (i.e. just prior to the Blue Period) and 1904 can be considered a transition year between the two periods.
Picasso’s African-influenced Period (1907–1909) 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.
Analytic cubism (1909–1912) is a style of painting Picasso developed along with Georges Braque using monochrome brownish and neutral colors. Both artists took apart objects and “analyzed” them in terms of their shapes. Picasso and Braque’s paintings at this time have 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.
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 André 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 Ingres.
During the 1930s, the minotaur replaced the harlequin as a common motif in his work. His use of the minotaur came partly from his contact with the surrealists, who often used it as their symbol, and it appears in Picasso’s Guernica.
Guernica, 1937, Museo Reina Sofia
Arguably Picasso’s most famous work is his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War—Guernica. This large canvas embodies for many the inhumanity, brutality and hopelessness of war. Asked to explain its symbolism, Picasso said, “It isn’t up to the painter to define the symbols. Otherwise it would be better if he wrote them out in so many words! The public who look at the picture must interpret the symbols as they understand them.”
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 mid-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 by Goya, Poussin, Manet, Courbet and Delacroix.
He was commissioned to make a maquette for a huge 50-foot (15 m)-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 colorful 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. 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.
Commemoration and legacy
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. 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.
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 and personal secretary.
Several paintings by Picasso rank among the most expensive paintings in the world. Garçon à la pipe sold for US$104 million at Sotheby's on 4 May 2004, establishing a new price record. Dora Maar au Chat sold for US$95.2 million at Sotheby’s on 3 May 2006. On 4 May 2010, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust was sold at Christie's for $106.5 million. The 1932 work, which depicts Picasso's mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter reclining and as a bust, was in the personal collection of Los Angeles philanthropist Frances Lasker Brody, who died in November 2009. Christie's won the rights to auction the collection against London-based Sotheby's. The collection as a whole was valued at over $150 million, while the work was originally expected to earn $80 million at auction. There were more than half a dozen bidders, while the winning bid was taken via telephone. The previous auction record ($104.3 million) was set in February 2010, by Alberto Giacometti's Walking Man I.
As of 2004, Picasso remains the top ranked artist (based on sales of his works at auctions) according to the Art Market Trends report. More of his paintings have been stolen than those by any other artist; the Art Loss Register has 550 of his works listed as missing.
Between October 8, 2010 and January 9, 2011, an exhibition of 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs from the Museé National Picasso in Paris will be on display at the Seattle Art Museum. From Feb 19, 2011 to May 15, 2011, the exhibition from the Museé National Picasso will move to Richmond, VA and be on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for its only appearance on the east coast of the United States.
Pablo Picasso's Timeline
October 25, 1881
Málaga, Málaga, Andalusia, Spain
February 4, 1921
April 8, 1973
Mougins, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Vauvenargues, Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France