Brief Biography of a Famous and Influential Artist 7: Pablo Picasso

Photograph of the Artist: Pablo Picasso

PICASSO (1881-1973)

Born: Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso better known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso on October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain

Died: April 8, 1973 [age 91] in Mougins, France

Most Notable Works: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Guernica, Friendship, and The Weeping Woman

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, draughtsman, and sculptor who lived most of his adult life in France. He is best known for co-founding the Cubanist movement, and for a wide variety of styles that he helped develop and worked on.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Picasso

Pablo Picasso was baptized Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a series of names that honored saints and family members. 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 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.

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.

By the age of 13, Picasso was studying in Barcelona’s School of Fine Arts. When he transferred to Madrid’s Academy of

Picasso's Guernica

San Fernando at age 16, he did not stay long. Picasso moved to Paris in 1900. He shared an apartment with a writer and lived in poverty while painting furiously. Some of his early works were portraits for the Stein family, art collectors from America. By the time he painted the portrait of Daniel Stein in 1910, the Cubist style could be seen in his work.

While in Paris, Picasso became friends with a French painter, Georges Braque. Together, they established a new style of art called Cubism. In the early Cubist paintings of both artists, observers can see elements of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism even as they revolutionize compositions with geometric concepts to give volume and depth to figures and abandon traditional perspective.

In the first Cubist painting, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907), Wilkins et al describe Picasso’s influence by Cezanne’s geometric concepts when he transformed a series of nudist paintings into the final result. “The preliminary study for the painting was in a less revolutionary style and showed two clothed male figures juxtaposed with five female prostitutes…” The final product was provocative; one woman’s female parts even face the observer head on. Three of the women also wear African masks. This painting is beautiful, angry, sexy, and puzzling all at once.

Pablo Picasso's Painting: Friendship

The Cubist style was copied by many artists of the early 1900s and found over several decades in Picasso’s work. For example, the great Surrealist, Salvador Dali, got to know Picasso personally and included Cubist themes in some pictures. Picasso is frequently associated with a mural painted in 1937 called Guernica (1937). He produced this work for the elected Republican government of Spain. This painting shows the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Pablo Picasso was married twice, to Olga Khokhlova and to Jacqueline Roque. He also had multiple relationships with mistresses during his marriages to both women. Picasso had four children with three different women, Paul “Paulo” Joseph Picasso  (February 4, 1921 – June 5, 1975) with Olga Khokhlova, Maria “Maya” de la Concepcion Picasso (September 5, 1935 – ) with Marie-Thérèse Walter, Claude Pierre Pablo Picasso (May 15, 1947 –) & Anne Paloma Picasso, known simply as Paloma (April 19, 1949 – ) with Françoise Gilot.

Pablo Picasso died in Mougins, France, while he and his wife Jacqueline entertained friends for dinner. His final words

The Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

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. Overwhelmed with grief and loneliness, Picasso’s wife, Jacqueline, took her own life in 1986 when she was 60 years old.

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.


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