Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramist, and theatre designer who spent the majority of his adult life in France (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973). As one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for assisting in the development and exploration of a vast array of styles. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937), a dramatic depiction of the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War, are among his most well-known works.
Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Picasso exhibited extraordinary artistic ability, painting in a naturalistic style. His style evolved during the first decade of the 20th century as he experimented with various theories, techniques, and concepts. After 1906, the slightly older artist Henri Matisse's Fauvist works inspired Picasso to explore more radical styles, igniting a fruitful rivalry between the two artists, who were frequently paired by critics as the leaders of modern art Picasso's work is frequently classified by period. The most widely accepted periods in his work are the Blue Period (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1904–1906), the African-influenced Period (1907–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), also known as the Crystal period, and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), also known as the Crystal period. Picasso's work from the late 1910s and early 1920s is predominantly neoclassical, while his work from the mid-1920s frequently displays Surrealist characteristics. His later works frequently incorporate aspects of his earlier styles.
Pablo Picasso became one of the most well-known figures in 20th-century art as a result of his revolutionary artistic achievements, for which he gained worldwide renown and an enormous fortune over the course of his long life.
Before 1890, Picasso received instruction from his father. The collection of Picasso's earliest works now housed at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona is one of the most exhaustive records of any major artist's early career. In 1893, the immaturity of his early work fades, and by 1894, he can be considered to have begun his career as a painter. The First Communion (1896), a large composition depicting his sister Lola, exemplifies the academic realism evident in the artist's works from the mid-1890s. In the same year, at the age of 14, he painted Portrait of Aunt Pepa, a vigorous and dramatic portrait described by Juan-Eduardo Cirlot as "unquestionably one of the greatest in the entire history of Spanish painting."
In 1897, his realism began to exhibit Symbolist influences, such as in a series of non-naturalistic violet and green landscape paintings. The period that some refer to as his modernist period (1899–1900) followed. Picasso's exposure to the works of Rossetti, Steinlen, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Edvard Munch, combined with his admiration for favorite old masters such as El Greco, led him to create a personal interpretation of modernism in his works from this period.
1900 marked Picasso's first visit to Paris, then the artistic capital of Europe. Picasso met his first Parisian friend there, journalist and poet Max Jacob, who assisted him in mastering the language and its literature. They soon shared an apartment, with Picasso sleeping during the day and working at night while Max slept at night. There was extreme poverty, cold, and desperation during these times. A significant amount of his work was burned to heat the small room. Picasso spent the first five months of 1901 in Madrid, where he and his anarchist friend Francisco de Ass Soler published five issues of the magazine Arte Joven (Young Art). Soler solicited articles for the journal, and Picasso contributed illustrations, primarily gloomy cartoons depicting the plight of the poor. The first issue was published on March 31, 1901, by which time Picasso had begun signing his work. From 1898 to 1901, he signed his works Pablo Ruiz Picasso, then Pablo R. Picasso. The change does not seem to imply a rejection of the father figure. Initiated by his Catalan friends, who customarily referred to him by his maternal surname, which was considerably less popular than the paternal Ruiz, he desired to distinguish himself from others.
Picasso's Blue Period (1901–1904), characterized by gloomy paintings rendered in shades of blue and blue-green occasionally warmed by other colors, began either in Spain or Paris in the latter half of 1901. During the Blue Period, during which Picasso split his time between Barcelona and Paris, numerous paintings depicting skeletal mothers with children were created. Picasso's austere use of color and occasionally melancholy subject matter — prostitutes and beggars are frequent subjects — were influenced by a trip to Spain and by his friend Carles Casagemas' suicide. Beginning in the fall of 1901, he painted a series of posthumous portraits of Casagemas, culminating in the gloomy allegorical painting La Vie (1903), which is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The famous etching The Frugal Repast (1904) depicts a blind man and a sighted woman, both emaciated and seated at a nearly empty table, with the same gloomy atmosphere. In addition to The Blindman's Meal (1903, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) and the portrait of Celestina, blindness is a recurring theme in Picasso's works from this period (1903). Portrait of Soler and Portrait of Suzanne Bloch are additional Blue Period works.
The Rose Period (1904–1906) is characterised by a lighter tone and style utilising orange and pink colours and featuring many circus people, acrobats and harlequins known in France as saltimbanques. Picasso adopted the harlequin, a comedic character typically depicted in striped clothing, as a personal symbol. In Paris in 1904, Picasso met Fernande Olivier, a bohemian artist who became his mistress. Olivier appears in a number of his Rose Period paintings, many of which are influenced by his close friendship with her and his increased exposure to French art. The generally upbeat and optimistic mood of paintings from this period is reminiscent of the 1899–1901 period (just before the Blue Period), and 1904 can be considered a transitional year between the two.
Picasso was a favorite of the American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein by 1905. Additionally, their elder brother Michael Stein and his wife Sarah became collectors of his work. Picasso painted portraits of Gertrude Stein and Allan Stein, her nephew. Picasso's principal patron was Gertrude Stein, who acquired his drawings and paintings and displayed them in her informal Salon in her Paris home. In 1905, he met Henri Matisse, who would become his lifelong friend and rival, at one of her gatherings. The Steins introduced him to American art collectors Claribel Cone and her sister Etta; they also began to acquire Picasso and Matisse paintings. Leo Stein eventually relocated to Italy. Michael and Sarah Stein became Matisse patrons, whereas Gertrude Stein continued her Picasso collection.
Picasso joined a recently opened art gallery in Paris in 1907, which was owned by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, a German art historian and collector who became one of the most prominent French art dealers of the 20th century. He was one of the earliest supporters of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and the cubism they developed together. Kahnweiler supported up-and-coming artists such as André Derain, Kees van Dongen, Fernand Léger, Juan Gris, Maurice de Vlaminck, and a number of others who had moved to Montparnasse from all over the world at the time.
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon marks the beginning of Picasso's African-influenced Period (1907–1909). The three figures on the left were inspired by Iberian sculpture, but the faces of the two figures on the right were repainted after he was profoundly influenced by African artifacts he saw in June 1907 at the ethnographic museum in Palais du Trocadéro. Later that year, when he displayed the painting to acquaintances in his studio, the nearly unanimous response was shock and revulsion; Matisse angrily dismissed the work as a hoax. Picasso did not exhibit Les Demoiselles publicly until 1916.
Other works from the era include Nude with Raised Arms (1907) and Three Women (1907). (1908). Formal ideas developed during this period directly influence the subsequent Cubist period.
Analytic cubism (1909–1912) is a painting style that Picasso and Georges Braque developed using brownish and neutral monochrome hues. Both artists disassembled and "analyzed" objects based on their shapes. The paintings of Picasso and Braque at this time share many similarities.
Picasso entertained a distinguished group of friends in the Parisian neighborhoods of Montmartre and Montparnasse, including André Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire, Alfred Jarry, and Gertrude Stein. Picasso was arrested and interrogated in 1911 regarding the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Apollinaire was initially suspected of the crime due to his association with Géry Pieret, an artist with a history of gallery thefts. In turn, Apollinaire implicated his close friend Picasso, who had also previously purchased stolen artworks from the artist. Picasso denied ever having met Apollinaire out of fear that a conviction would result in his deportation to Spain. Both were later cleared of any involvement in the disappearance of the painting.
Synthetic cubism (1912–1919) was an extension of the cubist style in which cut paper fragments — typically wallpaper or newspaper pages — were pasted into compositions, marking the first use of collage in fine art.
Picasso began a series of paintings depicting highly geometric and minimalist Cubist objects, such as a pipe, a guitar, or a glass, with the occasional use of collage, between 1915 and 1917. According to art historian John Richardson, square-cut diamonds with sharp corners do not always have a positive or negative side. Picasso wrote to Gertrude Stein, "We require a new designation for them." Later, the term "Crystal Cubism" was coined due to visual analogies with crystals at the time. Picasso may have created these "little gems" in response to critics who claimed his defection from the movement through his experimentation with classicism during the post-war "return to order."
Picasso left Olivier for Marcelle Humbert, whose name he called Eva Gouel, after acquiring some notoriety and wealth. Picasso expressed his affection for Eva in numerous cubist works. Picasso was devastated by her death at the age of 30 due to illness in 1915.
Picasso resided in Avignon in August 1914, when World War I began. Braque and Derain were mobilized, and Apollinaire joined the French artillery, but Juan Gris remained a member of the Cubist circle. Picasso was able to continue painting throughout the war, unlike his French comrades. His paintings became darker, and his life had dramatic repercussions. The termination of Kahnweiler's contract was due to his exile from France. The art dealer Léonce Rosenberg would acquire Picasso's works at this time. Picasso had an affair with Gaby Lespinasse following the loss of Eva Gouel. In the spring of 1916, a wounded Apollinaire returned from the front. They renewed their friendship, but Picasso began to associate with new groups of people.
Picasso became involved with Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes at the end of World War I. During this time, he counted Jean Cocteau, Jean Hugo, and Juan Gris among his friends. In the summer of 1918, Picasso wed Olga Khokhlova, a ballerina with Sergei Diaghilev's troupe, for whom he was designing a ballet, Erik Satie's Parade, in Rome; they spent their honeymoon near Biarritz in the villa of the glamorous Chilean art patron Eugenia Errázuriz.
Picasso's exclusive relationship with the French-Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg began after he returned from his honeymoon in need of funds. As part of his initial responsibilities, Rosenberg agreed to rent the couple an apartment in Paris, which was adjacent to his own home, at his own expense. This was the beginning of a deep, brotherly friendship that would last until the outbreak of World War II between two very different men.
In 1920s Paris, Khokhlova introduced Picasso to high society, formal dinner parties, and other aspects of the life of the wealthy. The couple had a son, Paulo Picasso, who grew up to be a motorcycle racer and his father's chauffeur. Picasso's bohemian tendencies clashed with Khokhlova's insistence on social propriety, and the two lived in a state of constant conflict. Picasso and Igor Stravinsky collaborated on Pulcinella in 1920, the same year that he collaborated with Diaghilev's troupe. Picasso seized the opportunity to create multiple portraits of the composer.
Picasso began an affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter, a 17-year-old he met in 1927. Picasso and Khokhlova's marriage ended in separation rather than divorce because French law required an equal division of property upon divorce and Picasso did not want Khokhlova to receive half of his wealth. The couple remained legally wed until Khokhlova's passing in 1955. Picasso had a long-term affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter, with whom he had a daughter named Maya. Marie-Thérèse hoped in vain that Picasso would marry her, and she committed suicide four years after his death.
In February 1917, Picasso traveled to Italy for the first time. Picasso produced works in a neoclassical style in the years following the turmoil of World War I. This "return to order" is evident in the 1920s works of numerous European artists, such as André Derain, Giorgio de Chirico, Gino Severini, Jean Metzinger, the artists of the New Objectivity movement, and the Novecento Italiano movement. Picasso's paintings and drawings from this period frequently evoke Raphael and Ingres's work.
In 1925 the Surrealist writer and poet André Breton declared Picasso as 'one of ours' in his article Le Surréalisme et la peinture, published in Révolution surréaliste. Les Demoiselles was published in Europe for the first time in the same issue. Picasso exhibited Cubist works at the first Surrealist group exhibition in 1925; the concept of "psychic automatism in its purest form" as defined in the Manifesto du surréalisme never completely appealed to him. He did at the time develop new imagery and formal syntax for expressing himself emotionally, releasing the violence, psychic fears, and eroticism that had been largely contained or sublimated since 1909. Although this transition in Picasso's work was influenced by Cubism in terms of its spatial relations, McQuillan writes that "the fusion of ritual and abandon in the imagery recalls the primitivism of the Demoiselles and the elusive psychological resonances of his Symbolist work." Picasso's attraction to primitivism and eroticism was reignited by surrealism.
The minotaur replaced the harlequin as a recurring motif in his work during the 1930s. The inclusion of the minotaur in Picasso's Guernica is a result of his contact with the surrealists, who frequently employed it as a symbol. Picasso's celebrated Vollard Suite of etchings prominently depicts the minotaur and his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. Guernica, Picasso's depiction of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, is arguably his most famous work. For many, this expansive canvas represents the inhumanity, brutality, and hopelessness of war. Picasso, when asked to explain its symbolism, stated, "The painter is not responsible for defining the symbols. Otherwise, he should have written them out in so many words! The audience must interpret the symbols according to their own understanding." Guernica was exhibited in July 1937 at the Spanish Pavilion of the Paris International Exposition, and later served as the centerpiece of an exhibition of 118 works by Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and Henri Laurens that toured Scandinavia, England, and France. The painting was sent to the United States after Francisco Franco's victory in Spain in order to raise funds and support for Spanish refugees. Picasso's expressed desire was that the painting not be returned to Spain until freedom and democracy had been established in the country. The painting remained at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City until 1981.
In 1939 and 1940, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, led by Picasso enthusiast Alfred Barr, held a major retrospective of Picasso's most important works to that point. This exhibition lionized Picasso, brought the breadth of his artistry to the attention of the American public, and led to a reinterpretation of his work by contemporary art historians and scholars. According to Jonathan Weinberg, "given the extraordinary caliber of the exhibition and Picasso's immense prestige, which was generally boosted by the political impact of Guernica, the critics' reactions were surprisingly mixed." Alfred Frankenstein's ARTnews review concluded that Picasso was both a charlatan and a genius. One journalist found Picasso's "multiplicity of styles" unsettling; another described him as "erratic and even malicious."
Picasso remained in Paris while the Germans occupied the city during World War II. Picasso did not exhibit during this time because his artistic style did not fit the Nazi ideal of art. The Gestapo harassed him frequently. During a search of his apartment, a police officer discovered a photo of the painting Guernica. The German inquired of Picasso, "Did you do that?" "No," he replied, "You did."
He continued to paint in his studio, producing Still Life with Guitar (1942) and The Charnel House (1943). (1944–48). Picasso continued working despite the Germans' ban on bronze casting in Paris, using bronze smuggled to him by the French Resistance.
Picasso wrote poetry around this time as an alternative outlet. Between 1935 and 1959 he wrote over 300 poems. These works were gustatory, erotic, and occasionally scatological, as were his two full-length plays, Desire Caught by the Tail (1941) and The Four Little Girls (1943). (1949).
Picasso, then 63 years old, began a romantic relationship with Francoise Gilot, a young art student, in 1944, after the liberation of Paris. He was forty years older than she. Picasso grew weary of his mistress Dora Maar, and he and Gilot moved in together. Claude Picasso was born in 1947, and Paloma Picasso was born in 1949. In her 1964 book Life with Picasso, Gilot describes Picasso's abusive behavior and numerous extramarital affairs, which prompted her to leave him along with their children. This was a major setback for Picasso.
Picasso had affairs with women who were significantly older than he and Gilot. Picasso had a six-week affair with Geneviève Laporte, who was four years younger than Gilot, while still involved with Gilot in 1951. In his seventies, many of his paintings, drawings, and prints depict an old, grotesque dwarf as the devoted lover of a beautiful young model. Picasso made and painted ceramics at the Madoura Pottery in Vallauris, on the French Riviera, where Jacqueline Roque (1927–1986) worked. In 1961, she became his lover and then his second wife. They remained together until the end of Picasso's life.
His marriage to Roque was also a means of revenge against Gilot; with Picasso's encouragement, Gilot had divorced her then husband, Luc Simon, with the plan to marry Picasso to secure the rights of her children as Picasso's legitimate heirs. Picasso had already secretly married Roque, after Gilot had filed for divorce. His relationship with Claude and Paloma remained strained.
Picasso was able to afford large villas in the south of France, such as Mas Notre-de-Vie on the outskirts of Mougins, and in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region by this time. There was often as much interest in his personal life as there was in his artwork.
Picasso was one of 250 sculptors who exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's 3rd Sculpture International in mid-1949. Picasso's style changed once more in the 1950s, when he began producing reinterpretations of the art of the great masters. He created a series of works inspired by Velázquez's Las Meninas. He was also inspired by the works of Goya, Poussin, Manet, Courbet, and Delacroix.
Picasso appeared in a few films, always as himself, including a cameo in Jean Cocteau's The Testament of Orpheus (1960). In 1955, he contributed to Henri-Georges Clouzot's film Le Mystère Picasso (The Mystery of Picasso).
He was commissioned to create a maquette for a monumental 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) public sculpture known as the Chicago Picasso. He approached the project with great enthusiasm, designing an ambiguous and somewhat controversial sculpture. Picasso stated that the figure represented the head of Kabul, an Afghan Hound. In 1967, the sculpture was unveiled as one of the most recognizable landmarks in downtown Chicago. Picasso refused to accept $100,000 for it, instead donating it to the city's residents.
Picasso's final works were a mixture of styles, as his means of expression remained in a state of constant change until the end of his life. Picasso's works became more colorful and expressive, and he produced a flood of paintings and hundreds of copperplate etchings between 1968 and 1971. Most people at the time dismissed these works as the pornographic fantasies of an impotent old man or the sloppy efforts of an artist past his prime. The critical community came to view Picasso's late works as foreshadowing Neo-Expressionism only after his death, when the rest of the art world had moved beyond abstract expressionism.
Picasso died of pulmonary edema and heart failure on April 8, 1973, in Mougins, France, while he and his wife Jacqueline were entertaining dinner guests. He was buried at the Chateau of Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, a property he had purchased in 1958 and lived in with Jacqueline from 1959 to 1962. Jacqueline prevented Claude and Paloma from attending their father's funeral. Jacqueline, who was 59 years old at the time and devastated and lonely after Picasso's death, shot herself to death in 1986.
1. "Women of Algiers (Version O)" - This painting sold for $160 million at Christie's in 2015, making it the most expensive Picasso work ever sold at auction.
2. "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust" - This painting sold for $106.5 million at Christie's in 2010, setting a new world record for the most expensive artwork sold at auction.
3. "The Actor" - This painting sold for $70.7 million at Sotheby's in 2004.
4. "Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter)" - This painting sold for $45.7 million at Sotheby's in 2006.
5. "Dora Maar au chat" - This painting sold for $95.2 million at Sotheby's in 2006.
It's important to note that these prices are constantly changing, and new records are set every year. The value of Picasso's works continues to be driven by their historical significance and continued popularity among collectors and museums.
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