Pablo Picasso

     Picasso, Pablo Ruiz y (1881-1973), Spanish painter and sculptor, is considered
one of the greatest artist of the 20th century. He was a inventor of forms,
innovator of styles and techniques, a master of various media, and one of the
most prolific artists in history. He created more than 20,000 works. Training
and Early Work Picasso was Born in Málaga on October 25, 1881, he was the son
of José Ruiz Blasco, an art teacher, and María Picasso y Lopez. Until 1898 he
always used his father's name, Ruiz, and his mother's maiden name, Picasso, to
sign his pictures. After about 1901 he dropped "Ruiz" and used his mother's
maiden name to sign his pictures. At the age of 10 he made his first paintings,
and at 15 he performed brilliantly on the entrance examinations to Barcelona's

School of Fine Arts. His large academic canvas Science and Charity (1897,

Picasso Museum, Barcelona), depicting a doctor, a nun, and a child at a sick
woman's bedside, won a gold medal. Blue Period Between 1900 and 1902, Picasso
made three trips to Paris, finally settling there in 1904. He found the city's
bohemian street life fascinating, and his pictures of people in dance halls and
cafés show how he learned the postimpressionism of the French painter Paul

Gauguin and the symbolist painters called the Nabis. The themes of the French
painters Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as the style of the
latter, exerted the strongest influence. Picasso's Blue Room (1901, Phillips

Collection, Washington, D.C.) reflects the work of both these painters and, at
the same time, shows his evolution toward the Blue Period, so called because
various shades of blue dominated his work for the next few years. Expressing
human misery, the paintings portray blind figures, beggars, alcoholics, and
prostitutes, their somewhat elongated bodies reminiscent of works by the Spanish
artist El Greco. Rose Period Shortly after settling in Paris in a shabby
building known as the Bateau-Lavoir ("laundry barge," which it resembled),

Picasso met Fernande Olivier, the first of many companions to influence the
theme, style, and mood of his work. With this happy relationship, Picasso
changed his palette to pinks and reds; the years 1904 and 1905 are thus called
the Rose Period. Many of his subjects were drawn from the circus, which he
visited several times a week; one such painting is Family of Saltimbanques
(1905, National Gallery, Washington, D.C.). In the figure of the harlequin,

Picasso represented his alter ego, a practice he repeated in later works as
well. Dating from his first decade in Paris are friendships with the poet Max

Jacob, the writer Guillaume Apollinaire, the art dealers Ambroise Vollard and

Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, and the American expatriate writers Gertrude Stein and
her brother Leo, who were his first important patrons; Picasso did portraits of
them all. Protocubism In the summer of 1906, during Picasso's stay in Gósol,

Spain, his work entered a new phase, marked by the influence of Greek, Iberian,
and African art. His celebrated portrait of Gertrude Stein (1905-1906,

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City) reveals a masklike treatment of her
face. The key work of this early period, however, is Les demoiselles d'Avignon
(1907, Museum of Modern Art, New York City), so radical in style—its picture
surface resembling fractured glass—that it was not even understood by
contemporary avant-garde painters and critics. Destroyed were spatial depth and
the ideal form of the female nude, which Picasso restructured into harsh,
angular planes. Cubism—Analytic and Synthetic Inspired by the volumetric
treatment of form by the French postimpressionist artist Paul Cézanne, Picasso
and the French artist Georges Braque painted landscapes in 1908 in a style later
described by a critic as being made of "little cubes," thus leading to the
term cubism. Some of their paintings are so similar that it is difficult to tell
them apart. Working together between 1908 and 1911, they were concerned with
breaking down and analyzing form, and together they developed the first phase of
cubism, known as analytic cubism. Monochromatic color schemes were favored in
their depictions of radically fragmented motifs, whose several sides were shown
simultaneously. Picasso's favorite subjects were musical instruments, still-life
objects, and his friends; one famous portrait is Daniel Henry Kahnweiler (1910,

Art Institute of Chicago). In 1912, pasting paper and a piece of oilcloth to the
canvas and combining these with painted areas, Picasso created his first
collage, Still Life with Chair Caning (Musée Picasso, Paris). This technique
marked a transition to synthetic cubism. This second phase of cubism is more
decorative, and color plays a major role, although shapes remain fragmented and
flat. Picasso was to practice synthetic cubism throughout his career, but by no
means exclusively. Two works of 1915 demonstrate his simultaneous work in
different styles: Harlequin (Museum of Modern Art) is a synthetic cubist
painting, whereas a drawing of his dealer, Vollard, now in the Metropolitan

Museum, is executed in his Ingresque style, so called because of its
draftsmanship, emulating that of the 19th-century French neoclassical artist

Jean-August-Dominique Ingres. Cubist Sculpture Picasso created cubist sculptures
as well as paintings. The bronze bust Fernande Olivier (also called Head of a

Woman, 1909, Museum of Modern Art) shows his consummate skill in handling
three-dimensional form. He also made constructions—such as Mandolin and

Clarinet (1914, Musée Picasso)—from odds and ends of wood, metal, paper, and
nonartistic materials, in which he explored the spatial hypotheses of cubist
painting. His Glass of Absinthe (1914, Museum of Modern Art), combining a silver
sugar strainer with a painted bronze sculpture, anticipates his much later"found object" creations, such as Baboon and Young (1951, Museum of Modern

Art), as well as pop art objects of the 1960s. Realist and Surrealist Works

During World War I (1914-1918), Picasso went to Rome, working as a designer with

Sergey Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. He met and married the dancer Olga

Koklova. In a realist style, Picasso made several portraits of her around 1917,
of their son (for example, Paulo as Harlequin; 1924, Musée Picasso), and of
numerous friends. In the early 1920s he did tranquil, neoclassical pictures of
heavy, sculpturesque figures, an example being Three Women at the Spring (1921,

Museum of Modern Art), and works inspired by mythology, such as The Pipes of Pan
(1923, Musée Picasso). At the same time, Picasso also created strange pictures
of small-headed bathers and violent convulsive portraits of women which are
often taken to indicate the tension he experienced in his marriage. Although he
stated he was not a surrealist, many of his pictures have a surreal and
disturbing quality, as in Sleeping Woman in Armchair (1927, Private Collection,

Brussel) and Seated Bather (1930, Museum of Modern Art). Paintings of the Early

1930s Several cubist paintings of the early 1930s, stressing harmonious,
curvilinear lines and expressing an underlying eroticism, reflect Picasso's
pleasure with his newest love, Marie Thérèse Walter, who gave birth to their
daughter Maïa in 1935. Marie Thérèse, frequently portrayed sleeping, also was
the model for the famous Girl Before a Mirror (1932, Museum of Modern Art). In

1935 Picasso made the etching Minotauromachy, a major work combining his
minotaur and bullfight themes; in it the disemboweled horse, as well as the
bull, prefigure the imagery of Guernica, a mural often called the most important
single work of the 20th century. Throughout Picasso's lifetime, his work was
exhibited on countless occasions, in many different places. Most unusual,
however, was the 1971 exhibition at the Louvre, in Paris, honoring him on his

90th birthday; until then, living artists had not been shown there. In 1980 a
major retrospective showing of his work was held at the Museum of Modern Art in

New York City. Picasso died in his villa Notre-Dame-de-Vie near Mougins on April

8, 1973.