Pablo Picasso


Pablo Picasso (b. 1881, Malaga, Spain; d. 1973, Mougins, France), the “father of Cubism,” is regarded by many as the most influential artist of the twentieth century. Having shaped the course of Modern Art through his experiments with drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery, and stage design, Picasso remains a singular artistic icon. Picasso was born into an artistic family–his father was a painter himself–and began his formal art training in Spain at the age of ten. In 1904, after travelling back and forth between Spain and France, Picasso moved to Paris. During his initial years in France, Picasso transitioned from the symbolist, monochromatic tones of his “blue period” (roughly 1900-1904) to the more optimistic palette of his “rose period.” In 1907, Picasso painted his masterpiece Les Demoiselles dAvignon, a radical composition that broke from traditional perspective and composition by portraying a patchwork of shattered, skewed planes. Beginning in 1908, influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne and in collaboration with Georges Braque, Picasso began to fracture space and create volume in two-dimensional forms, laying down the seeds for Cubism. By 1912, Picasso and Braque had transitioned from the later-termed analytic to synthetic phase of cubism – in which the artist incorporated collaging, papiers collés and colorful brushwork. In the 1920s, Picasso’s work shifted into neo-classical and sexual themes, inspired by his encounters with Surrealism. During this period, he expanded his sculptural practice, collaborating with the sculptor Julio González. The political turmoil of the 30s, and in particular the Spanish Civil War, greatly affected Picasso’s artistic output. In 1937, Picasso produced his iconic Guernica (1937) to express a condemnation of Fascism and the pointless loss of life in war. Several of Picasso’s works were confiscated by the Nazis during the war, while many of the artist’s Jewish friends, colleagues, and collectors were imprisoned or murdered. After the liberation of Paris, the artist began to exhibit once again, most notably at the Salon d’Automne in 1944, where his somber wartime ruminations on mortality were met with shock. In the late Forties, Picasso moved to the South of France and focused on his ceramic oeuvre while working at the Madoura pottery workshop in Vallauris. He remained prolific throughout his later years, executing work in a wide range of styles and mediums, many of which would be later recognized as precursors to Neo-Expressionism. By the end of his life, Picasso was already a household name, his celebrity cemented. Picasso’s monumental legacy cannot be understated; the artist’s trailblazing approach to painting, sculpture, and drawing has left an indelible mark on the history of Modern art.