When one hears the name “Pablo Picasso”, or just “Picasso”, one is reminded of vivid and abstract colors that form odd shapes or cubes depicting the subject. Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881 in the Andalusian city known as Málaga to parents Don José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y López. He is the eldest of three with him as the only son in the family. Picasso’s father is a professor in the School of Arts and Crafts in Andalusia, while his mother watched over their children. Picasso easily displayed his interest in art and drawing at a very young age as his first words were “piz”, the shortened name for lapis or pencil. When he turned seven, Picasso’s father slowly taught him how to draw in figures and painting with oil-based paint. Don Ruiz was a traditional artist and instructor, believing that it is important for Picasso to understand the theory and the specificities of live models and the body. Don Ruiz also took young Picasso to bullfights, which became one of his earliest subjects.
By 1891. Picasso’s family moved to A Coruna as his father received the position as a professor in the School of Fine Arts. With his father’s continuous instruction, Picasso was able to amaze his father with his talent for art when Ruiz saw Picasso finishing his unfinished pigeon sketch. According to some retelling, Ruiz was amazed by his son’s painting technique that he vowed to give up painting himself as he cannot reach Picasso’s level. After five years, Picasso yet again moved to Barcelona in 1896 after the death of his sister Conchita, who died from diphtheria. Picasso was immediately admitted to the School of Fine Arts and soon after, he was admitted in the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid due to his capacity to submit his entrance examination test in one day, the test is normally allowed to be done for a month. His school days in the Academy were short lived as Picasso found the atmosphere stifling and restrictive, returning to Barcelona shortly afterward to study on his own. Barcelona, on that period, was a haven for cultural discovery in Spain, allowing Picasso to mingle with other artists and join groups that gather in café Els Quatre Gats. Picasso was quite a traveller as he alternately moved in Paris and Barcelona from 1900 to 1903. In 1901, Picasso launched his first one-man exhibition in Paris (Walther).
By the time Picasso set up his studio in Paris in 1904, he was immediately visited by many artists and patrons. Picasso’s first few works show his creative pattern, which allowed him to experiment with modern painting. Picasso became known by then as one of the fastest artists as he was able to finish his artworks in rapid efficiency. Picasso’s artistic venture could be classified in periods. The first period was known as Picasso’s Blue Period, from 1901 and 1904. In this period, Picasso utilized shades of blue and blue-green to give his works a somber expression and melancholy. Blue Period subjects were mostly concentrated on prostitutes and beggars, influenced by his trips in Spain and the suicide of Carlos Casagemas, another Spanish painter and his friend. Both met in the Els Quatre Gats and became friends ever since; however, Casagemas shot himself to death due to his love for Germaine Pichot. In memory of his friend, Picasso dedicated his La Vie painting in 1903, depicting Casegamas. Another work from the Blue Period was known as the Frugal Repast, done in 1904. The painting shows a blind man and a normal woman seated in a bare table. Picasso incorporated the theme of Blindness in other paintings in the period like the Blindman’s Meal (1903), Celestina (1903), Portrait of Soler and the Portrait of Suzanne Bloch.
In 1904-1906, Picasso utilized natural and tender colours, mainly red and pink, to enhance his subjects. This coloring style was then referred to the Pink or Rose Period. In this period, Picasso had subjects mostly from the circus, namely the harlequins or the saltimbanques. One of the celebrated paintings of the Rose Period was the Family of Saltimbanques, exhibiting Picasso’s signature theme after the costume of the saltimbanques. Another famous work he did in the period is the Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1906), which utilizes mask-like abstraction, inspired by African ornates seen by Picasso in the Louvre. Eventually, this paved the way for the creation of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), which became Picasso’s number one cubist painting. The Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was first of Picasso’s venture away the visible world as he used monochromatic colors to depict his subject. After the Les Demoiselles, Picasso’s venture to cubism was evident from 1907 to 1911 with his works depicting his change. Some of these works were the Fruit Dish (1909) and the Ma Jolie or Woman with a Guitar (1911-12). In 1911, Picasso met Georges Braque, who helped him to introduce text and newspaper into cubism, leading to the creation of the cubism collage seen in Still Life with Chair Canning (1911-12). He then returned back to painting after practicing the cubism collage with the Three Musicians (1921) work as his classical take on cubism. Picasso moved back to classical painting in the early 1920s as he presented paintings and drawings depicting a more realistic style to them. One of the most noted works in this category is the Woman in White (1923). The painting was noted to be an artwork which does not need to call attention for itself as it entrances its viewers with its unique color and pictorial style. Picasso also created Guernica, another celebrated artwork which engraved Picasso’s name in the international art world. The Guernica presented the bombing of the town called Guernica in Spain, which became a victim of bomb attacks while the Spanish Civil War was taking in place. Picasso created the masterpiece with intense feelings, utilizing monochromatic colors to depict pain, brutality and torture which show Picasso’s idea of the bombing in Guernica (Sateren).
Picasso was a notable Communist, earning him the ire of the Soviet Union. He was also banned from Spain by the time Francisco Franco. He also married Olga Khoklova, but settled to a divorce, meeting Jacqueline Roque. Picasso also had four children in his married life. Before he died in April 8, 1973, he was already planning to showcase his works in the Avignon Arts Festival. Since his death in 1973, Picasso’s numerous works were kept hidden from the public as he did not need to sell most of them to the art market. Some of his collections from other artists were also found in his study. Since he did not have a will as to how his works and collections will be sorted upon his death, they were used to pay for his death taxes or estate tax. The collection was forfeited to the French government. The various works and collections were then decided to form the collection for the Musée Picasso in Paris’s Hôtel Salé. By 2003, the Museo Picasso Málaga was established by Picasso’s relatives in his honor. Barcelona also opened Museu Picasso, featuring many of his creations when he was still in Spain, some showing Picasso’s classical techniques not seen in his major masterpieces. The Museu also contains figure sculptures done by Picasso under the supervision of his father Don Ruiz and the collection of Jaime Sabartes, who served as Picasso’s confidant and secretary (Charles). Exhibitions were also held in Picasso’s honour, and as of recent, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso is currently toured around the globe. The exhibition presents 150 of Picasso’s works from painting, sculptures, to drawings. It is currently being featured in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada until August 26, 2012 (Art Gallery of Ontario).
Art Gallery of Ontario. Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris. Art Gallery of Ontario, May 2012. Web. 5 June 2012 <http://www.ago.net/picasso-masterpieces-from-the-musee-national-picasso-paris>.
Charles, Victoria. Pablo Picasso. Sirrocco: Parkstone International, 2011. Print.
Sateren, Shelly Swanson. Picasso. Mankato: Capstone Press, 2002. Print.
Walther, Ingo. Pablo Picaso, 1881-1973: Genius of the Century. Hohenzollernring: Taschen, 2000. Print.