A Brief Biography
Pablo Ruiz Y Picasso was the most famous artist of the 20th century. He was born on October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain. Picasso showed great talent at an early age. He loved to paint pictures of city life and was fascinated by the circus. He also enjoyed painting pictures of the day-to-day life of poor people in his neighbourhood and was also very poor himself. His father, Jose Ruiz Blasco, was a Castilian art teacher in Malaga and his mother, Maria Picasso, was an Andalusian of Majorcan origin. In 1896 Picasso entered the school of fine arts where his father was a professor.
In 1900, Picasso visited Paris, at the time the world’s centre for art and literature, and became infatuated with its street life, in particular, the area of Montmarte, Paris’ bohemian district where he was able to study the City’s poorer people. More importantly, it was here that he discovered the posters of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, which inspired him into creating one of his great paintings, the “Mouilin de la Galette”. It was here, in Paris, that most of his success was accomplished.
Three months later, Picasso returned to Spain and co-founded the short-lived magazine “Arte Joven” (first issue March 31, 1901 – “Young Art”), in Paris. On a second trip to Paris, in the summer of 1901, he exhibited his works at Ambroise Vollard’s gallery in the Rue Lafitte and became good friends with the avant-garde poet Max Jacob. It was during this visit that he discovered Vincent Van Gogh, who inspired him to create “The absinthe Drinker” (1901, William Jaffe Collection, New York City) and also the “Dwarf Dancer”.
Suddenly, the 20-year-old painter, who now signed himself “Picasso”, his mother’s maiden name, moved toward a symbolism of great anguish and misery, inspired by the French painter Maurice Denis and the Spanish painters Isidro Nonell Y Monturiol and El Greco. This was his Blue Period, so called because most of these paintings were dominated by various shades of blue. During this period, most of the paintings also display figures of tragedy.
In April of 1904, Picasso went to Paris and decided to stay there for good. It was there, in Paris, that he met Fernande Olivier who describes Picasso (at the age of 23) as follows:
“Small, dark, stocky, restless, disquieting, with eyes somber, deep, piercing, strange, almost staring. Clumsy gestures, womanish hands, badly dressed, rather messy. Thick hair, black and lustrous, slashing across his intelligent and stubborn forehead. Half bohemian, half worker in his appearance…” .
Picasso’s Rose Period was a result of the happiness he found with one of his mistress and started soon after they met in 1904. During this period, his works were filled with delicate pinks and the figures, while still somewhat sad, were not desolate as the subjects of the Blue Period had been; figures became more lively and family groups replaced the lonely prostitutes and beggars of earlier works.
Picasso, who liked to attend the Medrano Circus with his friends, became influenced and aroused with what he saw. This resulted in many portraits of circus people and circus life in general. Such portraits are as follows: “Girl on a Ball” (1905, State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow), “Taciturn and Androgynous Harlequins”, “Flatness of Frescoes”, “Family of Saltimbanques” and also his famous “Woman with a Fan”, an unsmiling woman who raises a hand as though bidding farewell to the works of Picasso’s youth.
It was during a stay at Gosol, in Spain, in the summer of 1906, that he began to paint solid, distorted female nudes at there toilets, seen in “The Coiffure” (Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art, New York City), “Nude on Red Background” (Louvre, Paris), and “La Toilette.”
Suddenly, between the end of 1906 and the spring of 1907, Picasso painted a revolutionary and uncompleted work called: “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” which was an inspiration given to him by a Postimpressionist painter, Paul Cezanne.
After a brief “Negro Period” , Picasso painted landscapes and still lives (at La Rue-des-Bois, where he spent the summer of 1908) marked by the influence of Paul Cezanne. It was these landscapes and those of George Braques that originated the style that, in 1908 was called “cubism”.
In the summer of 1910, Picasso worked with George Braque, creating geometric paintings which called the viewers attention to the painted surface itself. In that same year (1910), Picasso’s works were exhibited at the Photo-Secession Gallery in New York City.
In 1911, when Fernande Olivier left him, he met Marcelle Humbart, the mistress of the painter Louis Marcousis. She soon moved in with Picasso, who lovingly called her “Eva”, signifying that she was the first woman in his affections, and began to paint her name into several still lives (“Ma Jolie,” 1911-12, Museum of Modern Art, New York City; “J’aime Eva,” 1912, Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, Ohio).
Spending the summer of 1911 with Braque at Ceret and Sorgues (Vaucluse), Picasso followed his friend’s example in using the technique of “pasted papers”, commercial paper imitating wood or marble, newspapers, matchboxes, tobacco labels and so on. This technique marked a change from the Analytical Cubism of 1910-11, still linked to Cezanne, to the Synthetic Cubism of the years 1912-14, which replaced common, recognizable images of reality by signs whose raw sculptural effect increased the expressive while they decreased the symbolic value. “When I want to paint a cup,” Picasso commented, “I will show you that it is round, but it may be that the general rhythm and construction of the picture will oblige me to show that roundness as a square.”
Just when Picasso’s Cubism started to be recognized for its colour and imagination, the outbreak of war in 1914 arrived and caused a climate unfavourable for his work. The war also caused his separation from his friends.
In 1917, a young writer, Jean Cocteau, persuaded Picasso to leave Paris and travel to Rome, after the sudden death of Marcelle Humbert. Following a phase of depression, Picasso designed sets for the ballet “Parade”, in which Cubist “stage managers” were involved. In the opening-night, the audience hissed at the ballet performance but applauded Picasso’s painted curtain.
In 1918, Picasso married Olga Koklova (whom he divorced in 1935). She was a dancer with the Ballets Russes and daughter of a Russian colonel. This gave way to a new period in his life called “Ingrism” during which he used dancers, harlequins, and pierrots in his work. It was at this time that Picasso substituted the curve for the straight line in his Cubist work.
In the Year 1925, Picasso entered a Surrealist exhibition (even though he rightly stated that he wasn’t a Surrealist) in which he presented his large canvas “The Three Dancers” (1925, Tate Gallery, London). It was said to be marked by “convulsive beauty” , and he was said to do a collage for the first cover of “Minotaur” (1933).
In 1935, Picasso divorced Olga Koklova and shortly after (1936) he began to live with a beautiful Yugoslav named Dora Maar. In that same year, a Spanish Civil war broke out which led to the destruction of a small town called Guernica. This inspired him to create the 11 by 25 foot masterpiece which he named “Guernica”. This large mural was, without doubt, the greatest of all creations made by Picasso in his lifetime. It depicted war through anger, violence and death using the tragedy of the bullfight. The critic Jean Cassous stated, “it overflows with fullness and presence, with signs and cries.”
During World War 2, Picasso was forbidden to exhibit his work after the German occupation of France. He experienced severe hunger for the first time since his early days in Paris. His paintings were harsh and the colours used were, in a sense, cruel.
Suddenly, soon after the death of his friend Julio Gonzales, he modelled the “Man with Sheep”(1944), a figure of peace and hope. One year after, Picasso joined the Communist Party and, for the first time, exhibited at the Salon d’Automne (in which Guernica was shown).
Using his techniques in lithography, Picasso painted 200 lithographs between the years 1945-1949. In 1946 Picasso painted one of his most happy works of art, “Femme-Fleur”, and also a large pastoral scene, “La Joie de Vivre” (“The Joy of Life”, 1946, Musee Picasso). He used fauns, pipe players, nymphs dancing or sleeping, and centaurs. A whole mediterranean mythology comes to life beside the landscapes of Vallauris and the happy scenes (“Maternity with Orange,” 1951) in which his children, Claude (born in 1947) and Paloma (born in 1949), appear.
In the beginning of Autumn, Picasso took up Pottery and in 1948, 150 of his works were exhibited at the Maison de la Pensee Francais in Paris. Plates were transformed into the faces of fauns or swarmed with battling centaurs, bullfights (1948), doves (1949), and owls. “If the monster does nothing but smile,” said Picasso in connection with the exhibition, “people are disappointed”. He lived at his villa called La Galloise since October 1948, and it was there that he painted “Massacre in Korea” (1951), and “War and Peace” (1952). These works are more colourful and narrative in spirit than “Guernica” which he created in 1937.
In 1958, Picasso married Jacqueline Roque. He then bought the austere chateau of Vauvenargues in the Sainte-Victoire chain of mountains near Aix-en-Provence. The location gave him a subtle contrasts of vivid colours but it also brought him back to the solemnity of Spain. There he created 44 variations of paintings in five months.
In 1961 Picasso settled in the rustic house at Notre-Dame-de-Vie. Between the Ages of 85 and 92, Picasso produced three series of drawings of extraordinary newness. They include mythological scenes, circus scenes, drinking and party scenes, and passionate scenes (82 drawings and washes, 1966-67) mingling Penelopes and Ledas, charioteers, and musketeers. The same themes were treated more realistically in 347 untitled engravings (March-October 1968) showing spanish silhouettes, nocturnal pursuits, abductions, procuresses, and audacious alcove scenes. Here he used his great artistry in the techniques of engraving (etching and aquatint, drypoint, burin, and so on). A third series (1969-71) returned to drawing and re-introduced a theme that had been absent since 1969, the mythological figures.
In October 1871, Paris paid homage to Picasso on the occasion of his 90th birthday by displaying eight of his works in the Louvre, in the place formerly occupied by Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa.” He died on April 8, 1973, at Mougins, France at the incredible age of 91.
The Cubism, (Websters’Third International dictionary)
“The typically monochromatic expression of natural forms in terms of simplified planes and lines and basic geometric shapes sometimes organized to depict the subject simultaneously from several points of view.”
“The arbitrary arrangement and interrelation of contours and fragments of contours without necessary reference to natural objects or their structure.”
“A French abstract art movement embracing analytical cubism from about 1906 to 1912 and synthetic cubism from 1913 into the following decade.”
This style emphasized a variety of Grey-Blues. The figures were mostly long, thin and sad. This “Blue Period” was a time of sadness and depression for Picasso, and his sadness was expressed in many of his paintings.
This style emphasized a variety of Pinkish colours, lighter and warmer. The figures were mostly of circus life, and actors. It was a more cheerful period for Picasso.
Pablo Picasso was also involved in a variety of other artistic movements such as pottery , collages, sculpting, and engraving.
Most Famous Works
“Le Moulinde la Galette” (1900; Justin K. Thannhauser Collection, New York).
“The Mourners” 1901; Edward G. Robinson Collection, Beverly Hills, California) “The Dwarf Dancer” (1901;Museo de Arte Moderno, Barcelona); “The Blind Mans Meal” (1903; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); “La Vie” (1903; Cleveland Museum of Art).
Saltimbanque and Rose Period:
“Woman in a Chemise” (c. 1905; Tate Gallery, London); “Woman with a fan” (1905; Averell Harriman Collection, New York); “Family of Saltimbanques” (1905; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C); “La Toilette” (1906; Albright-knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York); “Self Portrait with a Palette” 1906; Philadelphia Museum of Art); “Gertrude Stein”( 1906; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The Negro Period:
“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1906-07; Museum of Modern art, New York) “Fruit Dish” (1908-09, Museum of Modern art, New York) “Bust of a Woman” (1909; Tate Gallery, London)
“Seated Nude” (1909; Tate Gallery, London) “Girl with a Mandolin” (1910; Private Collection, New York)
“Accordonist (Pierrot)” (1911; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York); “Still Life with Chair Caining” (1911-12); “Harlequin” (1913; Municipal Museum, The Hague) “Harlequin” (1915; Museum of Modern Art, New York)
“Harlequin” (1917; Museo de Arte Moderno, Barcelona); “Guitar” (1919; Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo, The Netherlands); “Two Seated Women” (1920; Walter P. Chryser, Jr.Collection, New York); “The Rape” (1920; Museum of Modern Art, New York); “Three Musicians” (1921; Museum of Modern Art, New York) “Pipes of Pan” (1923); “Seated Women” (1923; Tate Gallery, London)
“Seated Bather” (1930; Museum of Modern Art, New York); “Guernica” (1937; Prado, Madrid); “Night Fishing at Antibes” (1939; Museum of Modern Art, New York); “Les Primieres Pas” (1943; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conneticut) “The Charnel House” (1945; Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. Collection, New York); “Las Meninas” 58 canvasses (1957).
“The Jester” (bronze, 1905; Phillips Collection Washington D.C.); “Woman’s Head” (bronze, c 1909; Museum of Modern Art, New York); “Glass of Absinthe” (painted bronze and silver spoon, 1914; Museum of Modern Art, New York); “Still Life” (painted wood with upholstery fringe, 1914; Private Collection, London); A Guitar” (floorcloth, string, nails and newspaper, 1926); “Sculpture” (iron wire, 1928); “Sculpture” (bronze, 1931); ” Head of D.M.” (bronze, 1941); “Bull’s Head” (bicycle saddle and handlebars, 1943); “Man with a Sheep” (bronze, 1944); “Goat” (plaster, later cast in bronze, 1950) “Baboonwith Young” (bronze, 1951); “Steel Sculpture” (1967; Civic Center Plaza, Chicago)
Prints and Drawings:
“Salome” (drypoint, 1905); “Max Jacob” (pencil, 1915; Mlle Dora Maar Collection); “The Bathers” (pencil, 1918; Fogg Art Museum, Cambrige, Massachusetts); “Portrait of Stravinsky” (pencil, 1920); “The Sculptor’s Studio” (a series of 46 etchings, 1933-34); “Minotauromachia” (1935); and a series of minotaur etchings (1933-35); studies for “Guernica” (1937, in various media); “Self Portrait” (pen and ink from “Desire Caught by the Tail,” 1943); “Portrait of D.M. as a Bird” (pen, ink and wash, 1943); “Francoise” (lithograph, 1946); “Model and Monkey Painter” (ink and wash, 1954).
Among many examples, “Woman Vase” (1948); “Three Doves” (1953) “Plate with Bullfight” (c. 1957)
Decor for the ballers Parade (1917); Three-Cornered Hat (1919);
Pulcinella (1920); Cuadro Flamenco (1921); Mercure (1924).
Important Dates in the Life of Picasso
Pablo R y Picasso was Born (Malaga, Andalusia, Spain)
The young Pablo begins to paint and brilliantly passes all his exams in painting. His first exhibitions take place in Barcelona, Madrid and Paris.
Picasso settles in Paris, in a tiny apartment (in Montmartre) nicknamed the “Bateau-Lavoir” because of its flimsy construction. The bateaux-lavoirs were well-known washing sheds for clothes, moored along the Seine river in Paris.
After developing a friendship with the french painter Georges Braque, Picasso begins his Cubist period, which will last until 1914.
At the invitation of the Russian choreographer Diaghilev, Picasso travels to Rome to prepare the sets and costumes for the ballet Parade, which meets with great success. Several months later he marries the ballerina Olga Koklova. The thirty-six-year-old Picasso is now an elegant young man of the world, moving in fashionable circles.
With his wife Olga and his son Paul, the artist occupies a spacious apartment on the rue de La Boetie in Paris. His work is more classical during these years, his paintings more luminous.
A new art movement appears, namely Surrealism, which brings together poets ant artists. Picasso is not a part of this movement, although his style does undergo a certain influence; his pictures become more violent with all kinds of monsters on both canvas and paper.
He meets Marie-Therese Walter, a young women who would inspire numerous portraits as well as large sculptured heads. Picasso sets up his studio in the annexes of the chateau Boisgeloup, a mansion lying a few miles outside of Paris.
Picasso travels, exhibits in several cities, writes and publishes poetry. His friend Jaime Sabartes becomes his secretary. Marie-Therese gives birth to a daughter, Maya.
Outbreak of Civil war in Spain. Opposed to Fascism, Picasso supports the Republican cause. He is named Director of the Prado Museum in Madrid and becomes intimate with a young painter and photographer, Dora Maar.
He executes the very large canvas “Guernica”, considered to be one of the masterpieces of 20th century art, and unveils it at the Universal Exposition in Paris. His new studio is found on the rue des Grands-Augustins in Paris; it is here that Picasso would work and live, alone, throughout the Second World War.
Birth of a daughter, Paloma, second child with Francoise Gilot.
He paints two enormous panels, War and Peace, subsequently hung in the chapel of Vallauris.
Picasso buys a villa, La Californie, on the Mediterranean coast of France near Cannes. He settles there with Jacqueline Roque, who would become the painters last wife in 1958. Picasso works diligently on “series” paintings and drawings, free variations inspired by the work of other artists, for instance, “The Women of Algiers” after Delacroix, “Las Meninas” (“The Maids of Honor) after Velasquez, or the “Dejeuner sur l’herbe” after Manet.
Picasso settles in Mougins, near Cannes. The painter is honoured the world over on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
He executes the very important series of works known as the “Painter and His Model”.
Major exhibits of Picasso’s work become more frequent. As for the Spanish master himself, Picasso worked almost without pause until death at 91.