Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous and recognized names in the world of art. He was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer. His art was diverse and prolific, spanning across many different genres and styles. Most importantly, his art was revolutionary and innovative, becoming a catalyst for an abundance of avant garde movements in music, literature, and architecture. He almost single-handedly redefined 20th century art. His legacy and influence are as impressive as his art itself.
Picasso was born in Madrid, Spain in 1981. His father was an artist and art teacher who introduced Pablo to art at a very early age. At the age of 13 years old, his father said that Pablo had surpassed him. At age 14, his family moved to Barcelona where he applied to the School of Fine Arts. The Institute usually only accepted students much older than Picasso, but they made an exception due to his impressive talents. At the institute, Picasso regularly skipped class and roamed the streets of Barcelona, giving him a reputation as a bad student. He ended up moving back to Spain where he attended the Royal Academy of San Fernando. Again, he got bored of the classes taught, irritated by the school’s focus on classical technique. He moved to Barcelona where he was captivated and inspired by a group of anarchists, where he made the life changing decision to focus on experimentation and innovation.
Picasso’s art can generally be separated into several distinct periods. The first of which is the Blue Period. During this time, Picasso moved to Paris, France, where he would spend the majority of his life. Picasso was severely affected by the death of Carlos Casagemas, a close friend of his. The topics of his paintings were focused on poverty, isolation, and anguish, using almost exclusively, a blue and green palette.
During the Rose Period, Picasso’s depression had subsided, mostly in result of being deeply in love with a French model named Fernande Olivier. He also climbed out of his financial troubles he facing during the Blue Period, finding people who were interested in buying his art. Picasso’s newfound optimism showed itself through his use of warmer colors focusing on reds and pinks, and a focus on circus performers.
A breakthrough work for Picasso was “Les Demoiseless d’Avignon”, the subject of which was five prostitutes. This painting is considered the precursor to the style of painting Picasso is arguably most famous for: Cubism. Cubism used a geometrical style and the use of simultaneous viewpoints to achieve a more abstracted form. Cubism caused great controversy in the art world, and marked the turn of 20th century art, becoming one of the most influential art movements Max Jacob described Cubism as “ a picture for it’s own sake.”
During WWI, Picasso returned to a more classical style based in realism. His style during this period was reminiscent of Raphael and Ingres, styles that he tried to break free from in his adolescent years. Although not the founder of Surrealism, Picasso was deeply involved with the movement during the 1930s, a style that had evolved from Picasso’s cubism. During this time, Picasso painted his most famous and recognized piece, “Guernica” as a protest against the horrors of war.
After WWII, Picasso turned to politics and was an active member of the Communist Party. His painting took on a more simplistic and child-like approach. In response to the crudeness of his art at the time he replied, “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them."