Pablo Picasso Artist Biography

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 characterizes every aspect of his painting, sculpture, ceramics and graphic work.

Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 in Malaga, southern Spain. He showed an early passion and a skill for drawing. According to his mother, his first words were "piz, piz", a shortening of lápiz, the Spanish word for "pencil". From the age of seven, Picasso received formal artistic training from his father in figure drawing and oil painting and then he was enrolled at the school where his father taught. He quickly grasped the concepts, surpassing even seniors at the institution.

In 1895, when Pablo Picasso was 14 years old, he moved with his family to Barcelona, Spain where he quickly applied to the city's prestigious School of Fine Arts. Although the school typically only accepted students several years his senior, Picasso's entrance exam was so extraordinary that he was granted an exception and admitted. Nevertheless, Picasso chafed at the School of Fine Arts' strict rules and formalities, and began skipping class so that he could roam the streets of Barcelona, sketching the city scenes he observed.

In 1897, a 16-year-old Picasso moved to Madrid to attend the Royal Academy of San Fernando. However, he again became frustrated with his school's singular focus on classical subjects and techniques and once again, Picasso began skipping class to wander the city and paint what he observed: gypsies, beggars and prostitutes, among other things.

In 1899, Picasso moved back to Barcelona and fell in with a crowd of artists and intellectuals Inspired by the anarchists and radicals he met there, Picasso made his decisive break from the classical methods in which he had been trained, and began what would become a lifelong process of experimentation and innovation.

However, Picasso never graduated, his eccentric style, and his complete disregard for what others thought of his work, made him a catalyst for artists to follow.

In 1900, Picasso moved to France and for the next three years, the young artist continued to traverse between France and Spain. In about the same time, following the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas, Picasso entered - what later called by critics - in the Blue Period from 1901 to 1904. These paintings - essentially in restricted color and simplified forms, expressing intense melancholy and pathos – depicted poor and suffering people such as ‘Blue Nude’ (1902) and 'Old Guitarist' (1903).

In 1904, Picasso met Fernande Olivier, a bohemian artist who became his mistress. With his improved financial situation and relationship with Olivier, Pablo Picasso enter a particularly joyful period in his life. Between 1904 and 1906, Picasso's style is characterized by a cheerier style with orange and pink colors, and featuring many circus people, acrobats and harlequins known in France as saltimbanques.  This period was later called Picasso's Rose Period  

For Picasso, the seminal moment was the Paul Cezanne retrospective held at the Salon d'Automne. In Cezanne's works, Picasso found a model of how to distill the essential from nature in order to achieve a cohesive surface that expressed the artist's singular vision. In about the same time, the aesthetics of traditional African sculpture became a powerful influence among European artists. In France, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and their School of Paris friends start blending the highly stylized treatment of the human figure in African sculptures with painting styles derived from the post-Impressionist works of Cezanne and Gauguin. Picasso starts to enter his African Period, which lasted from 1907 to 1909. The epoch-making 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon' (1907) was a conscious attempt to complete his researches and is now seen as the moment that Picasso relinquished his obligation to natural appearances.

Inspired by the Negro art he first saw in this year, along with Georges Braque, Picasso created Cubism. His early paintings in this style, now known as Analytical Cubism, clearly show recognizable forms dissected and reconstructed using overlapping translucent planes. Objects, landscapes and people are represented as many faceted solids. 'Woman with a Guitar' is a clear example of this. Having moved through 'Hermetic Cubism' which saw flatter, more abstract pieces, produced in mainly monochromatic greys and browns, color reappeared in the final phase of Cubism known as 'Synthetic Cubism'.

The impact of Cubism on the history of European painting and sculpture is immeasurable. Between 1917 and 1924, Pablo Picasso worked on designs for many of Diaghilev's ballets which took him to Italy and led to a Classical feel entering his work. From 1925, his static figurative compositions became grotesque and violently active. This 'fantasy' period lasted until around 1940, with works such as the famous 'Guernica' (1936) revealing the latent expressive force of Picasso's work that had laid dormant during the Cubist years.

Like many of the Surrealists, Picasso was disturbed and personally involved with the current political unrest in Europe and associated himself with the Spanish Republican cause.

Leaving Paris in 1946, he subsequently lived in Antibes, Vallauris and Vauvenargues. Picasso remained a prolific artist until his death in 1972.

More art prints from Pablo Picasso

L'Acrobate By Pablo Picasso
Visage De La Paix By Pablo Picasso
Femme a la Cruche By Pablo Picasso
Le Chameau (The Camel) By Pablo Picasso
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