artist canvas
Portrait of Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

25.10.1881 Malaga, Spain - 08.04.1973 Mougins, Alpes Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France

Art history: Cubism

Canvases of Pablo Picasso [38 canvases]

Biography of Pablo Picasso

“Everyone wants to understand art. Why don’t we try to understand the song of a bird? Why do we love the night, the flowers, everything around us, without trying to understand them? But in the case of a painting, people think they have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necessity, that he himself is only an insignificant part of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world, though we can’t explain them people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.” Picasso

The Beginning: Childhood and Youth 1881-1901

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born October 25, 1881 to Don Jos? Ruiz Blasco (1838-1939) and Do?a Maria Picasso y Lopez (1855-1939). The family at the time resided in M?laga, Spain, where Don Jos? taught drawing at the local school of Fine Arts and Crafts. The first ten years of Pablo’s life passed in M?laga. The family was far from rich, and when 2 other children were born (Lola (Dolor?s) in 1884 and Concepci?n (Conchita) in 1887) it was often difficult to make both ends meet. When Don Jos? was offered a better-paid job, he accepted it immediately, and the Picassos moved to the provincial capital of La Coruna, where they lived for the next four years. There, in 1892, Pablo joined the school of Fine Arts, but mostly his father taught him. By 1894 Pablo’s works became so perfect for the boy of his age that his father recognized Pablo’s amazing talent, handed him his brush and palette and declared that he would never paint again. In 1895 Don Jos? got a professorship at “La Lonja”, the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, and the family settled there. Pablo passed his entrance examination on an advanced course in classical art and still life at the same school. He was the best than senior students in their final exam projects. “Unlike in music, there are no child prodigies in painting. What people regard as premature genius is the genius of childhood. It gradually disappears as they get older. It is possible for such a child to become a real painter one day, perhaps even a great painter. But he would have to start right from the beginning. So far as I am concerned, I did not have that genius. My first drawings could never have been shown at an exhibition of children’s drawings. I lacked the clumsiness of a child, his naivety. I made academic drawings at the age of seven, the minute precision of which frightened me.” Picasso. In 1896 Pablo’s first large “academic’ oil painting, “The First Communion”, appeared in an exhibition in Barcelona. His second large oil painting, “Science and Charity” (1897) received honorable mention in the national exhibition of fine art in Madrid and was awarded a gold medal in a competition at M?laga. Pablo’s uncle sent him money for further studying in Madrid, and the youth passed entrance examination for advanced courses at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. But already in the winter he abandoned the classes. His everyday visits to the Prado seemed to him much more important. At first he copied the old masters, trying to imitate their style; later they would be the source of ideas for original paintings of his own, and he would re-arrange them again and again in different variations. Picasso’s time in Madrid, however, came to a sudden end. In summer 1898, caught with scarlet fever, he came back to Barcelona, then, to regain health, he went to the mountain village of Horta de Ebro and spent long time there to return home only in spring 1899. In Barcelona he frequented Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats), the caf?, where artists and intellectuals used to meet. He made friends, among others, with the young painter Casagemas, and the poet Sabart?s, who would later be his secretary and lifelong friend. In Quatre Gats Picasso met the vivid representatives of Spanish modernism, such as Rusinol and Nonell; he was very enthusiastic about new directions in art, he said farewell to “classicism” and started his enduring search and experiments. The relations with his parents strained, they could not understand and forgive him the betrayal of “classicism”. In October 1900 Picasso and Casagemas left for Paris, the most significant artistic center at the time, and opened studio at the Montmartre. Art dealer Pedro Manach offered Picasso his first contract: 150 Francs per month in exchange for pictures. His first Paris picture “Le Moulin de la Galette” (Guggenheim Museum, New York). In December he departed for Barcelona, M?laga, and Madrid where he became co-editor of Arte Joven. But already in May 1901 he returned to Paris. This restless life with constant travels continued all his life, though later he would become more or less settled, but never finally settled.

The Blue and Rose periods 1901-1906

In February 1901 Picasso’s friend Casagemas committed suicide: he shot himself in a Parisian caf? because a girl he loved had refused him. His death was a shock, Picasso returned to it again and again: Death of Casagemas, multicolored, and the same in blue, “Evocation – The Burial of Casagemas”. In this latter canvas the compositional and stylistic influence of El Greco’s “The Burial of Count Orgaz” could be traced. Picasso started to use almost exclusively blue and green. “I began to paint in blue, when I realized that Casademas had died” Picasso. Caught with restlessness and loneliness, he constantly moved between Paris and Barcelona, depicting in blue isolation, unhappiness, despair, misery of physical weakness, old age, and poverty. In the allegorical La Vie (1903), all in monochrome blue, again the man has the face of his deceased friend. In 1904 Picasso finally settled in Paris, at 13, Rue Ravignan (until 1909), called “Bateau-Lavoir”. He met Fernande Olivier, a model, who would be his mistress for the next seven years. He even proposed to her, but she had to refuse because was already married. They paid frequent visits to the Circus M?drano, whose bright pink tent at the foot of the Montmartre shone for miles and was quite close to his studio. There Picasso got ideas for his pictures of circus actors. The pub Le Lapin Agile (The Agile Rabbit) was a meeting place of young artists and authors. In the pub Picasso got acquainted with the poets Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob. The landlord, Fr?d?, accepted pictures as payment, that made his caf? attractive for the artists and he acquired a splendid collection of pictures, including, of course, one by Picasso “At the Lapin Agile”, with Picasso as a harlequin and Fr?d? as a guitar player. The picture “Woman with a Crow” shows Fr?d?’s daughter. By 1905 Picasso lightened his palette, relieving it with pink and rose, yellow-ochre and gray. His circus performers, harlequins and acrobats became more graceful, delicate and sensible. In 1906 the art dealer Ambroise Vollard bought most of Picasso’s “rose” pictures, thus started his life free of financial worries. Accompanied by Fernande he again traveled to Barcelona, then to Gosol in the north of Catalonia, where he painted “La Toilette”. Deeply impressed by the Iberian sculptures at the Louvre he began to think over and to experiment with geometrical forms.

Cubism 1907-1917

“Cubism is no different from any other school of painting. The same principles and the same elements are common to all. The fact that for a long time cubism has not been understood and that even today there are people who cannot see anything in it, means nothing. I do not read English, and an English book is a blank to me. This does not mean that the English language does not exist, and why should I blame anyone but myself if I cannot understand what I know nothing about?” Picasso.

“Negro period”

In 1907 after numerous studies and variations Picasso painted his first cubistic picture - “Les demoiselles d’Avignon”. Impressed with African sculptures at ethnographic museum he tried to combine the angular structures of the “primitive art” and his new ideas about cubism. “In the Demoiselles d’Avignon I painted a profile nose into a frontal view of a face. I just had to depict in sideways so that I could give it a name, so that I could call it ‘nose’. And so they started talking about Negro art. Have you ever seen a single African sculpture – just one- where a face mask has a profile nose in it?” Picasso. Picasso’s new experiments were met very differently by friends, some were sincerely disappointed, and even horrified, others were interested. The art dealer Kahnweiler really liked the Demoiselles and took it for sale. Picasso’s new friend, the artist Georges Braque (1882-1963), was so enthusiastic about Picasso’s new works that the two painters for several years to come were to explore together the possibilities of cubism. In the summer of 1908 they started by going on a holiday in the country together, only to find afterwards that they had painted similar pictures independently of each other.

“Analytical” cubism

With Bread and Fruit Dish on a Table (1909) the critics mark the beginning of Picasso’s “analytical” cubism: he gives up central perspective, splits up forms in facet-like stereo-metric shapes. The famous portraits of Fernande Woman with Pears, and of the art dealers Vollard and Kahnweiller are fulfilled in the “analytical” cubist style . By 1911 Picasso’s relationships with Fernande experienced crisis: he broke with her and started a new liaison, with Eva Gouel (Marcelle Humbert), whom he called “Ma Jolie”.

“Synthetic” or “Collage” cubism

By 1912 the possibilities of the “analytical” cubism seemed to be exhausted. Picasso and Braque started new experiments: within a year they were composing still lifes of cut-and-pasted scraps of material, with only a few lines added to complete the design. Still-Life with Chair Caning. These collages led to synthetic cubism: paintings with large, schematic patterning, such as “The Guitar”. “Cubism has remained within the limits and limitations of painting, never pretending to go beyond. Drawing, design and color are understood and practiced in cubism in the spirit and manner that are understood and practiced in other schools. Our subjects might be different, because we have introduced into painting objects and forms that used to be ignored. We look at our surroundings with open eyes, and also open minds. We give each form and color its own significance, as far as can see it; in our subjects, we keep the joy of discovery, the pleasure of the unexpected; our subject itself must be a source of interest. But why tell you what we are doing when everybody can see it if they want to?” Picasso. The World War I (1914-18) changed the life, the mood, the state of mind, and, of course, the art. His French fellow artists, Braque and Derain, were called up into the army at the beginning of the war. The art dealer, the German Kahnweiler, had to go to Italy, his gallery was confiscated. Picaso’s pictures became somber, more often realistic features appear. Pierrot. “When I paint a bowl, I want to show you that it is round, of course. But the general rhythm of the picture, its composition framework, may compel me to show the round shape as a square. When you come to think of it, I am probably a painter without style. ‘Style’ is often something that ties the artist down and makes him look at things in one particular way, the same technique, the same formulas, year after year, sometimes for a whole lifetime. You recognize him immediately, but he is always in the same suit, or a suit of the same cut. There are, of course, great painters who have a certain style. However, I always thrash about rather wildly. I am a bit of a tramp. You can see me at this moment, but I have already changed, I am already somewhere else. I can never be tied down, and that is why I have no style.” Picasso. In 1916 the young poet Jean Cocteau brought the Russian Impressario Diaghilev and the composer Erik Satie to meet Picasso in his studio. They asked him to design the d?cor for their ballet “Parade”, which was to be performed by the Ballet Russe. The meeting and Picasso’s affirmative answer brought to his life deep changes for years to come. In 1917 he traveled to Rome with Cocteau and spent time with Diaghilev’s ballet company, worked on d?cor for “Parade”, met Igor Stravinsky and fell in love with the dancer Olga Koklova. He accompanied ballet group to Madrid and Barcelona because of Olga, and persuaded her to stay with him.

Between Two Wars 1917-1936

Classicism and Surrealism

In 1918 Olga and Picasso married. Contacts with high society through the ballet and the marriage brought changes in his lifestyle. The young family moved into an apartment, which occupied two floors at 23 Rue La Bo?tie, acquired servants, then chauffeur, and moved in different social circles, no doubt due to Olga’s influence. The chaotic artists’ get-togethers gradually changed into receptions. Picasso’s image of himself had changed, and this was probably reflected in more conventional language he adopted in his art, the way in which he consciously made use of artistic traditions and was almost never provocative. After cubism Picasso returned to more traditional patterns, but not exactly the classical ones, this style, a’la classical, was called “classicist style” The Lovers., from time to time he returned to cubism. His collaboration with the Ballet Russe went on: he worked on d?cor for “Le Tricorne”; drew the dancers; in 1920 began to work on d?cor for Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella. With the birth of his son Paul (Paolo) (1921) he again and again returned to Mother and Child theme. Mother and Child. To 1921 belongs his cubistic Three Musicians, in which he for the first time used a group of people as a cubist subject: three figures from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte (Pierrot, Harlequin and a monk) playing trio. Though created in his post-cubist period, the picture came to be regarded as the climax of cubism. “Those who set out to explain a picture usually go wrong. A short time ago Gertrude Stein elatedly informed me that at last she understood what my picture ‘Three Musicians’ represented. It was a still life!” Picasso. In 1923 Picasso composed The Pipes of Pan, which is regarded as the most important painting of his “classicist period”. Other interesting works: The Seated Harlequin. Women Running on the Beach. “Of all these things – hunger, misery, being misunderstood by the public – fame is by far the worst. This is how God chastises the artist. It is sad. It is true.” Picasso God had chastised Picasso, by mid-twenties he became so popular that “had to suffer a public that was gradually suppressing his individuality by blindly applauding every single picture he produced.” Added to this, there were marital problems. His wife Olga, the former ballet dancer, for whom the attention and admiration of the public was necessary, vital, and natural, could not understand his crisis. Picasso tried to rescue his independence by taking an interest in the unknown, the unfamiliar, he set up a sculptor’s studio near Paris and began to make numerous artistic experiments. Series of assemblages on Guitar theme, using objects such as a shirt, a floor-cloth, nails and string, sculptures. In 1927 Picasso met seventeen-year old Marie-Th?r?se Walter. She became his mistress shortly afterwards. Much of his work after 1927 is fantastic and visionary in character. His Woman with Flower of 1932 is a portrait of Marie-Th?r?se, distorted and deformed in the manner of surrealism, which was so fashionable at the time. even Picasso could not really avoid being influenced by this group of Parisian artists, although, conversely, they regarded him as their artistic stepfather. “I keep doing my best not to lose sight of nature. I want to aim at similarity, a profound similarity which is more real than reality, thus becoming surrealist.” Picasso Picasso himself admitted that the worst time of his life began in June 1935. Marie-Th?r?se was pregnant with his child, and his divorce from Olga had to be postponed again and again: their common wealth had become a subject for the lawyers. During this time of personal crisis Picasso would supplement his arsenal of artistic weapons in the form of a bull, either dying or snorting furiously and threatening both man and animal alike: being Spanish, Picasso had always been fascinated by bull fights, bu the “tauromachia”. October 5th 1935 his second child, daughter Maria de la Concepcion, called Maya, was born. In 1936 he met Dora Maar, a Yugoslavian photographer. Later, during the war, she became his constant companion. Portrait of Dora.

Wartime Experience 1937-1945

“Guernica, the oldest town of the Basque provinces and the center of their cultural traditions, was almost completely destroyed by the rebels in an air attack yesterday afternoon. The bombing of the undefended town far behind the front line took exactly three quarters of an hour. During this time and without interruption a group of German aircraft – Junker and Heinkel bombers as well as Heinkel fighters – dropped bombs weighing up to 500 kilogrammes on the town. At the same time low-flying fighter planes fired machine-guns at the inhabitants who had taken refuge in the fields. The whole of Guernica was in flames in a very short time.” The Times, April 27, 1937. The Spanish government had asked Picasso to fulfill a mural for the Spanish pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition. He planned the topic “painter and studio”, but when he heard about events in Guernica, he changed his original plans. After numerous sketches and studies, Picasso gave his own personal comprehensive view of a historical fact. His gigantic mural Guernica has remained part of the collective consciousness of the twentieth century, because “Guernica” has been serving as a forceful reminder of it. In 1981, after forty years of exile in New York, the picture found its way back to Spain. This was because Picasso had decreed that it should not become Spanish property until the end of fascism. In October 1937 Picasso painted the “Weeping Woman” as a kind of postscript to “Guernica”. In 1940 when Paris was occupied he held an action: handed out photos of Guernica to German officers. When asked “Did you do this?” he replied, “No, you did”. Whether the world-known military brains could not perceive the symbolism of the picture, or the world fame of Picasso stopped the Nazis, he was not arrested. He went on working. During the wartime he met a young woman painter, Fran?oise Gillot, who would later become his third official wife. With his Charnel House of 1945 Picasso concluded the series of pictures, which he started with “Guernica”. The relationship between the two paintings becomes immediately obvious when we consider the rigidly limited color scheme and the triangular composition of the center. But the nightmare has now been overtaken by reality itself. The Charnel House was painted under the impact of reports from the concentration camps which had been discovered and liberated. It was not until now that people realized how many monsters had been born while reason slumbered. It was a time when millions of people had been literally pushed to one side – a turn of phase which Picasso expressed rather vividly in the pile of dead bodies in his Charnel House.

After WWII. The Late Works. 1946-1973

In 1944 after liberation of Paris he joined the Communist Party, became an active participant of Peace Movement; in 1949 the Paris World Peace Conference adopted a dove created by Picasso as the symbol of the various peace movements; in 1950 and in 1961 (for the second time) he was awarded Lenin Peace Prize. He protested against American invasion in Corea, against Soviet occupation of Hungary. In his public life he always standed on humanistic positions. After the WWII Fran?oise gave birth to his two more children born: Claude (1947) and Paloma (1949). Paloma is a Spanish word for “dove”, the girl was named after the peace fighters symbol. More women come into his life, come and go, like Sylvette David; or stay longer, like Jacqueline Rogue. Another woman came into his life and settled beside, was she better than the previous ones, or just new? All his life he had to change places of life, women, manner of painting, materials, with which he worked. Some people say that this helps to stay young, maybe… In summer 1955 Picasso bought “La Californie”, a big villa near Cannes. From his studio he could see his enormous garden, which he filled with his sculptures. The south and the Mediterranean were just right for his mentality, they reminded of Barcelona, of his childhood and youth. He created there: “Studio ‘La Californie’ at Cannes” (1956), Jacqueline in the Studio. (1956). By 1958 however ‘La Californie’ became one more tourist attraction at Cannes. There had been a constantly increasing stream of admirers and of people trying to catch a glimpse, so that it had become necessary to move house. Picasso bought Chateau Vauvenargues, near Aix-en-Provence. Picasso’s move was reflected in his art with an increasing reduction in his range of colors to black, white and green. Mass media turned Picasso into a celebrity, the public deprived him of privacy and wanted to know his every step, “but his art was given very little attention and was regarded as no more than the hobby of an ageing genius who could do nothing but talk about himself in his pictures.” Picasso’s late works are an expression of his final refusal to fit into categories. He did everything he wanted in art and there was not a word of criticism. His adaptation of “Las Meninas” by Vel?szquez, his experiments with Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, did he really try to discover or to create something, or did he just laugh at our stupidity, at our inability to see the obvious? A number of elements had become part of constant pattern: Picasso’s use of simplified imagery, the way he let the unpainted canvas shine through, his emphatic use of lines, and the sketchiness of the subject. “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them”, Picasso explained in 1956. In the last years of his life painting had become an obsession with Picasso, and he would date each picture absolutely precisely, thus creating in his latest works a vast amount of similar paintings, crystallizations of individual moments of timeless happiness, knowing that in the end everything would be in vain. On April 8, 1973 he died, at last. Picasso was buried in the grounds of his Chateau Vauvenargues. “The different styles I have been using in my art must not be seen as an evolution, or as steps towards an unknown ideal of painting. Everything I have ever made was made for the present and with the hope that it will always remain in the present. I have never had time for the idea of searching. Whenever I have wanted to express something, I have done so without thinking of the past or the future. I have never made radically different experiments. Whenever I have wanted to say something, I have said it in such a way as I believed I had to. Different themes inevitably require different methods of expression. This does not imply either evolution or progress, but it is a matter of following the idea one wants to express and the way in which one wants to express it.” Picasso.

Famous canvases of Pablo Picasso:

Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo.
Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo.
Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo.

Bathing. Picasso

Picasso, Pablo. Bathing
Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo. Picasso, Pablo.

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