The legacies of Pablo Picasso are expansive and powerfully influential. The meanings and expressions of his artwork illuminate the immense influence Picasso’s environment and relationships had over his work. Over the course of ninety-one years, Picasso has lived through both World Wars, expatriation from his own country, and a series of wives and secret affairs. All of these experiences, especially Picasso’s explicit anti-war opinions and insatiable passion for women, are commonly expressed through his entire career, despite the wide range of art Picasso has participated in, from poetry to stage designing to paintings, which has led him though various themed eras like the Blue Period (19
01-1904) and Cubism (1909-1912).
Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881 and went to art schools in Barcelona and Madrid. Picasso’s art career started very early, for his father, also an artist and art teacher, noticed his talents early and helped develop Pablo Picasso’s skills and schooling opportunities. However, Picasso
never appreciated strict discipline and formal instructions, and thus quickly dropped out of schooling at the age of six
teen and left on his own to Paris. For a long time, Picasso lived in poverty often having to burn some of his artwork to keep warm (poverty is a common theme is his artworks). However, Picasso had the luck of attracting wealthy collectors that started him on a rather successful and internationally renowned path.
Among his m
any styles and techniques, which include sculpting and woodwork, Picasso is probably most known for his work in Surrealism. He uses extreme distortion and symbolism left for the viewer to draw upon and “interpret them” (Picasso).
An early sketch and final painting of
The Guernica (1937):
This famous painting and its sketched rough draft are a good example of both Picasso’s anti-war opinions and his means of surrealism to express them. Guernica was painted in response to the bombing of Guernica by German forces during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso refuses to interpret the two prominent images in the painting, the bull and the horse. Nevertheless, the
painting’s obscure orientation and symbolism does illustrate the painful tragedies of war with its dark tone and imagery of people screaming and dying.
A stencil drawing of one of Picasso’s mistresses, Francoise Gilot:
Many of Picasso’s works revolve around the women that encompass his life. He has spent very few years as a single man, even though he has never been able to remain faithful to a girlfriend for any more than ten years. His generally needy nature and the rare number
of single years illuminate the possibility of a lonely aspect of his character. However, his history of infidelity also marks an insatiable and loose sense of passion, for he often falls into obsession for a woman, and falls just as quickly for another at the cost of his previous relationship. This portrait of Gilot is one of many portraits of his wives and girlfriends, and is thus a good illustration of his simple, yet passionate style of drawing. Although most of his portraits are not intricately detailed, this sort of simplicity allows for the focus of distinct features of that particular woman. In this case, focus falls upon the flowing hair and Gilot’s large eyes.
A painting of a Reclining Nude:
This is one of my favorite paintings, and is one I had the honor of seeing in person. This painting is, once again, of one of his affairs—a woman with whom he had a child. This scene portrays Marie-Therese Walter after sex, reclining and “radiating” in the sun. Like most of his drawings and portraits of women, they are simple and abstract in a way that illuminates the defining features of that particular woman. In this painting and in many others that present Marie-Therese Walter, the style focuses on her voluptuous features and the sense of passion and satisfaction (maybe playing to his own narcissism) after love-making, as illustrated by the flowing image of her position, the blushing in her cheeks, and the visible radiation coming from her body.