was born on October 25, 1881, in Málaga,
Spain. The son of an academic painter, José Ruiz Blanco,
he began to draw at an early age. In 1895, the family moved to
Barcelona, and Picasso studied there at La Lonja, the academy
of fine arts. His visit to Horta de Ebro from 1898 to 1899 and
his association with the group at the café Els Quatre Gats
about 1899 were crucial to his early artistic development. In
1900, Picasso's first exhibition took place in Barcelona, and
that fall he went to Paris for the first of several stays during
the early years of the century. Picasso settled in Paris in April
1904, and soon his circle of friends included Guillaume Apollinaire,
Max Jacob, Gertrude and Leo Stein, as well as two dealers, Ambroise
Vollard and Berthe Weill. His style developed from the Blue Period
(1901- 04) to the Rose Period (1905) to the pivotal work Les Demoiselles
d'Avignon (1907), and the subsequent evolution of Cubism [more]
from an Analytic phase (ca. 1908–11), through its Synthetic
phase (beginning in 1912–13). Picasso’s collaboration
on ballet and theatrical productions began in 1916. Soon thereafter,
his work was characterized by neoclassicism and a renewed interest
in drawing and figural representation. In the 1920s, the artist
and his wife, Olga (whom he had married in 1918), continued to
live in Paris, to travel frequently, and to spend their summers
at the beach. From 1925 into the 1930s, Picasso was involved to
a certain degree with the Surrealists, and from the fall of 1931
he was especially interested in making sculpture. In 1932, with
large exhibitions at the Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, and the
Kunsthaus Zürich, and the publication of the first volume
of Christian Zervos's catalogue raisonné, Picasso's fame
By 1936, the Spanish Civil War had profoundly affected Picasso,
the ex-pression of which culminated in his painting Guernica
(1937, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid). Picasso's
association with the Communist Party began in 1944. From the
late 1940s, he lived in the South of France. Among the enormous
number of Picasso exhibitions that were held during the artist's
lifetime, those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1939
and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, in 1955
were most significant. In 1961, the artist married Jacqueline
Roque, and they moved to Mougins. There Picasso continued his
prolific work in painting, drawing, prints, ceramics, and sculpture
until his death April 8, 1973.
Text from Thomas Hoving, "Art For Dummies®"
"Yet Cubism and Modern art weren't either scientific or intellectual; they were visual and came from the eye and mind of one of the greatest geniuses in art history. Pablo Picasso, born in Spain, was a child prodigy who was recognized as such by his art-teacher father, who ably led him along. The small Museo de Picasso in Barcelona is devoted primarily to his early works, which include strikingly realistic renderings of casts of ancient sculpture.
"He was a rebel from the start and, as a teenager, began to frequent the Barcelona cafes where intellectuals gathered. He soon went to Paris, the capital of art, and soaked up the works of Manet, Gustave Courbet, and Toulouse-Lautrec, whose sketchy style impressed him greatly. Then it was back to Spain, a return to France, and again back to Spain - all in the years 1899 to 1904.
"Before he struck upon Cubism, Picasso went through a prodigious
number of styles - realism, caricature, the Blue Period, and
the Rose Period. The Blue Period dates from 1901 to 1904 and
is characterized by a predominantly blue palette and subjects
focusing on outcasts, beggars, and prostitutes. This was when
he also produced his first sculptures. The most poignant work
of the style is in Cleveland's Museum of Art, La Vie (1903),
which was created in memory of a great childhood friend, the
Spanish poet Casagemas, who had committed suicide. The painting
started as a self-portrait, but Picasso's features became those
of his lost friend. The composition is stilted, the space compressed,
the gestures stiff, and the tones predominantly blue. Another
outstanding Blue Period work, of 1903, is in the Metropolitan,
The Blind Man's Meal. Yet another example, perhaps the most
lyrical and mysterious ever, is in the Toledo Museum of Art,
the haunting Woman with a Crow (1903).
"The Rose Period began around 1904 when Picasso's palette
brightened, the paintings dominated by pinks and beiges, light
blues, and roses. His subjects are saltimbanques (circus people),
harlequins, and clowns, all of whom seem to be mute and strangely
inactive. One of the premier works of this period is in Washington,
D.C., the National Gallery's large and extremely beautiful Family
of Saltimbanques dating to 1905, which portrays a group of circus
workers who appear alienated and incapable of communicating
with each other, set in a one-dimensional space. "In 1905,
Picasso went briefly to Holland, and on his return to Paris,
his works took on a classical aura with large male and fernale
figures seen frontally or in distinct profile, almost like early
Greek art. One of the best of these of 1906 is in the Albright-Knox
Gallery in Buffalo, NY, La Toilette. Several pieces in this
new style were purchased by Gertrude (the art patron and writer)
and her brother, Leo Stein. The other major artist promoted
by the Steins during this period was Henri Matisse, who had
made a sensation in an exhibition of 1905 for works of a most
shocking new style, employing garish and dissonant colors.
These pieces would be derided by the critics as "Fauvism,"
a French word for "wild beasts." Picasso was profoundly
influenced by Matisse. He was also captivated by the almost
cartoon-like works of the self-taught "primitive"
French painter Henri "Le Douanier" Rousseau, whom
he affectionately called "the last ancient Egyptian painter"
because his works have a passing similarity to the flat ancient
"A masterpiece by Rousseau is in the Museum of Modern Art
in New York, his world-famous Sleeping Gypsy, with an incredible
tiger gazing at the dormant figure with laser-like eyes. "Picasso
discovered ancient Iberian sculpture from Spain, African art
(for he haunted the African collections in the Musée
d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro in Paris), and Gauguin's
sculptures. Slowly, he incorporated the simplified forms he
found in these sources into a striking portrait of Gertrude
Stein, finished in 1906 and given by her in her will to the
Metropolitan Museum. She has a severe masklike face made up
of emphatically hewn forms compressed inside a restricted space.
(Stein is supposed to have complained, "I don't look at
all like that," with Picasso replying, "You will,
Gertrude, you will.") This unique portrait comes as a crucial
shift from what Picasso saw to what he was thinking and paves
the way to Cubism. "Then came the awesome Les Demoiselles
d'Avignon of 1907, the shaker of the art world (Museum of Modern
Art, New York). Picasso was a little afraid of the painting
and didn't show it except to a small circle of friends until
1916, long after he had completed his early Cubist pictures.
Cubism is essentially the fragmenting of three-dimensional
forms into flat areas of pattern and color, overlapping and
intertwining so that shapes and parts of the human anatomy are
seen from the front and back at the same time. The style was
created by Picasso in tandem with his great friend Georges Braque,
and at times, the works were so alike it was hard for each artist
quickly to identify their own. The two were so close for several
years that Picasso took to calling Braque, "ma femme"
or "my wife," described the relationship as one of
two mountaineers roped together, and in some correspondence
they refer to each other as "Orville and Wilbur" for
they knew how profound their invention of Cubism was.
"Every progressive painter, whether French, German, Belgian, or American, soon took up Cubism, and the style became the dominant one of at least the first half of the 20th century. In 1913, in New York, the new style was introduced at an exhibition at the midtown armory - the famous Armory Show - which caused a sensation. Picasso would create a host of Cubist styles throughout his long career. After painting still-lifes that employed lettering, trompe l'oeil effects, color, and textured paint surfaces, in 1912 Picasso produced Still-Life with Chair-Caning, in the Picasso Museum in Paris, which is an oval picture that is, in effect, a cafe table in perspective surrounded by a rope frame - the first collage, or a work of art that incorporates preexisting materials or objects as part of the ensemble. Elements glued to the surface contrasting with painted versions of the same material provided a sort of sophisticated double take on the part of the observer. A good example of this, dubbed Synthetic Cubism, is in the Picasso Museum, Paris, the witty Geometric Composition: The Guitar (1913). The most accomplished pictures of the fully developed Synthetic Cubist style are two complex and highly colorful works representing musicians (in Philadelphia and the Museum of Modern Art, New York). He produced fascinating theatrical sets and costumes for the Ballet Russe from 1914 on, turned, in the 1920s, to a rich classical style, creating some breathtaking line drawings, dabbled with Surrealism between 1925 and 1935, and returned to Classicism.
"At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Picasso was appointed the director of the Prado. In January, 1937, the Republican government asked him to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion at the world exposition in Paris. Spurred on by a war atrocity, the total destruction by bombs of the town of Guernica in the Basque country, he painted the renowned oil Guernica in monochrome (now in Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.) Something of an enigma in details, there's no doubt that the giant picture (which until the death of Franco was in New York's Museum of Modern Art) expresses a Goyaesque revulsion over the horrors man can wreak upon fellow man. The center is dominated by a grieving woman and a wounded, screaming horse illuminated, like Goya's Third of May, 1808 by a harsh light.
"Picasso lived in Paris through the war, producing gloomy paintings in semi-abstract styles, many depicting skulls or flayed animals or a horrifying charnel house. He joined the Communist party after the war and painted two large paintings condemning the United States for its involvement in the Korean War (two frightfully bad paintings about events that never happened - like American participation in germ warfare). He turned enthusiastically to sculpture, pottery, and print-making, and, in his later years, preoccupied himself with a series of mistresses and girlfriends, changing his style to express his love for each one, and, finally, making superb evocations of the works of old masters like Diego Velazquez. Whatever Picasso had a hand in turned out to have an unquenchable spark of utter genius."
Chronology of Pablo Picasso's Life Events
1881: Picasso born in Málaga, Spain
1886: First modern Olympics is held in Athens, Greece
1896: Picasso enters Barcelona School of Fine Arts
1899: First magnetic recording of sound
1900-04: Picasso's "Blue Period" lived in France
1905: Albert Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity
1905-06: Picasso's "Rose Period" - more upbeat reds
and pinks. Inspired by the Circus
1906: Picasso's proto-cubism. Introduced to Georges Braque in
1908-20: Picasso's Cubism Period. Inspired by Paul Cezanne.
Picasso sees African art at the Trocadero. Inspired by African
1914-18: World War I.
1917:U.S. enters World War I
1914-20: Picasso paints in realist style. Some work shows the
style of surrealism.
1929: Museum of Modern Art opens in New York City. Stock Market
Crash October 29.--Great Depression
1930: Cubism and synthetic cubism-inspired by Marie Therese
1937: Painted Guernica portrayal of the horrors of war.
1939-45: With arrival of World War II, Picasso works with death
as a subject
1945: U.S. Drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan
ending World War II.
1940's on-- Picasso's art based on those of the early masters.
Works in ceramics and printmaking. Makes reduction linoleum
1960:TV sets number 85 million in the US.
1963: President John F. Kennedy assassinated.
1968: With Lynden Johnson as President- the Viet Nam War escalates.
1969: Neil Armstrong walks on moon.
1973: Pablo Picasso passed away April 8
Citations of Pablo Picasso
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain
an artist once he grows up." - Pablo Picasso
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