Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Pablo Picasso is arguably the most famous artist of the 20th century and perhaps he is even the most prolific painter in history. His artistic career panned over 75 years in which he is credited with thousands of paintings, sculptures, prints and ceramics.

Often known for his pioneering role in Cubism, Picasso used all kinds of materials in the development of his art and changed his style with the culture, thus living several artistic lifetimes.

Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain, the son of Jose Ruiz, an artist and professor of art. Picasso was an child prodigy; when he was only 14, he took the qualifying examination for the Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona the test normally took one month, Picasso completed it in one day. From there, he continued his artistic training at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, eventually returning to Barcelona in 1900, where he often attended the famous Els Quatre Gats cabaret, home of intellectuals and artists of the day.

Picasso s blue period began in 1901 and ended in 1904. He received this title because of the blue tonality of Picasso s paintings, which Picasso said reflected his mood at the time, having to move from Barcelona to Paris. Picasso paintings from this era include The Old Guitarist and Woman in a Blue Hat.

Always changing his style, Picasso paintings changed radically in 1905, when he became obsessed with the acrobats, clowns and families of the circus. The comical aura of the circus combined with subtle pinks and greys, highlighted with brighter tones in his paintings, marked this rose period.

In 1907, Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d Avignon, now considered to be the benchmark 20th century painting. It was also during this time when Picasso helped found the Cubist movement along with fellow artist Georges Braque. Cubists took pride in analyzing natural forms, then taking these forms down to two-dimensional geometric shapes, creating paintings that were almost devoid of color and emphatic on shapes.

Pablo Picasso s later paintings leaned more towards classicism and surrealism, often marked by obscure depictions of women, including Girl Before a Mirror and Woman in a Blue Hat.

After the world heard the news of the civilian causalities during the 1937 bombing of Guernica, Spain by the Nazi Luftwaffe, Picasso responded with his great anti-war painting, Guernica. For many, this large canvas represents the brutality, inhumanity and hopelessness of war. Picasso himself was a pacifist.

Pablo Picasso died on April 8,1973 in Mougins, France at the age of 91.


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