Picasso could be described as both inspirational and as controversial. Both world famous artists and public figures have been influenced by his enormous and diverse body of work.
Pablo Picasso has had enormous influence on 20th century art and worked in an unprecedented variety of styles. After Cubism, his major contribution to modern art is the freedom which characterises every aspect of his painting, sculpture, ceramics and graphic work.
Picasso’s treatment of space had major influence on David Hockney and it is well documented that Hockney admired the genius of Picasso. Hockney’s etchings based on poems are said to amplify his influence from Picasso who also took inspiration from poetry. Hockney took cubist lessons in his Polaroid’s, stating that cubism helps to suggest the viewer is in movement which implies time.
Ben Nicolson was also very concerned with the cubist structure, geometric shapes and multiple perspectives. His poetic feeling for nature was combined with cubism to form his own abstract style of work.
Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein acknowledged the “huge influence” that Picasso had upon his artwork, even going so far as to paint cartoons of Picasso. Lichtenstein viewed his cartoon paintings as an attempt to liberate himself from Picasso’s strong influence.
When Willem de Kooning paints his portraits of monstrous women, he returns to the Cubist women typical of Picasso’s artwork. Placing Picasso’s famous “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” alongside any of de Kooning’s woman paintings reveals many similarities. Both artists use bold, black lines to outline their figures, and both grant their women an overwhelming sense of power and overt sexuality.
Some of Jackson Pollock’s works from the 1950’s in particular include figures drawn in bold, black lines descended from the art of Picasso. Both Picasso and Pollock abandon traditional realist painting in favour of more childish, liberated techniques. Pollock turns Picasso’s cubist figures into wild splatters of paint.
In his early works, abstract expressionist painter Arshile Gorky imitated the artwork of Picasso. He explored Picasso’s different styles in a more dedicated and thorough manner than perhaps any other artist. Gorky’s mature works, such as his famous “The Liver is the Cock’s Comb” (1944), show him building off of these influences to create his own style.
Many worldwide and British artists have responded to Picasso’s influence and this February Tate Britain will stage the first exhibition to explore Pablo Picasso’s lifelong connections with Britain. The exhibition will explore Picasso’s rise in Britain as a figure of both controversy and celebrity and will trace the ways in which his work was exhibited and collected here in Britain during his lifetime. Read our review of the exhibition.