Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
(1937) The Weeping Woman
Pablo Ruiz Picasso
– April 8,
often referred to simply as Picasso,
was a Spanishpainter
His full name is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan NepomucenoMaría de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso.
One of the most recognized figures in 20th century art,
he is best known as the co-founder, along with Georges Braque,
Picasso, self-portrait Yo, Picasso,
Picasso was born in Málaga,
the first child of José Ruiz y Blasco
and María Picasso y López.
He was christened with the names Pablo, Diego, José, Francisco
de Paula, Juan Nepomuceno, Maria de los Remedios, and Cipriano de la
father was a painter whose specialty was the naturalistic depiction
of birds and who for most of his life was also a professor
of art at the School of Crafts and a curator
of a local museum. The young Picasso showed a passion and a skill for
drawing from an early age; according to his mother,
his first word was "piz," a shortening of lápiz,
the Spanish word for pencil.
It was from his father that Picasso had his first formal academic art
training, such as figure drawing and painting in oil. Although
Picasso attended art schools throughout his childhood, often those
where his father taught, he never finished his college-level course
of study at the Academy of Arts (Academia de San Fernando)
leaving after less than a year.
studying art in Madrid, he made his first trip to Paris in 1900, the
art capital of Europe. In Paris, he lived with Max Jacob
(journalist and poet), who helped him learn French. Max slept at
night and Picasso slept during the day as he worked at night. There
were times of severe poverty, cold, and desperation. Much of his work
had to be burned to keep the small room warm. In 1901, with his
friend Soler, he founded the magazine Arte Joven
in Madrid. The first edition was entirely illustrated by him. From
that day, he started to simply sign his work Picasso,
while before he signed Pablo Ruiz y Picasso.
the early years of the 20th century, Picasso, still a struggling
youth, divided his time between Barcelona
where in 1904, he began a long-term relationship with Fernande
Olivier. It is she who appears in many of the Rose period paintings.
After acquiring fame and some fortune, Picasso left Olivier for
Marcelle Humbert, whom Picasso called Eva. Picasso included
declarations of his love for Eva in many Cubist works.
Picasso, Nature morte à la chaise cannée,1912
Picasso entertained a distinguished coterie of friends in the
quarters, including André Breton,
poet Guillaume Apollinaire,
and writer Gertrude Stein.
Apollinaire was arrested on suspicion of stealing
the Mona Lisa
from the Louvre
in 1911. Apollonaire pointed to his friend Picasso, who was also
brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.
maintained a number of mistresses in addition to his wife or primary
partner. Picasso was married twice and had four children by three
women. In 1918, Picasso married Olga Khokhlova,
a ballerina with Sergei Diaghilev's
troupe, for whom Picasso was designing a ballet, Parade,
in Rome. Khokhlova introduced Picasso to high society, formal dinner
parties, and all the social niceties attendant on the life of the
rich in 1920s Paris. The two had a son, Paulo, who would grow up to
be a dissolute motorcycle racer and chauffeur to his father.
Khokhlova's insistence on social propriety clashed with Picasso's
tendencies and the two lived in a state of constant conflict. In 1927
Picasso met 17 year old Marie-Thérèse Walter
and began a secret affair with her. Picasso's marriage to Khokhlova
soon ended in separation rather than divorce, as French law required
an even division of property in the case of divorce, and Picasso did
not want Khokhlova to have half his wealth. The two remained legally
married until Khokhlova's death in 1955. Picasso carried on a
long-standing affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter
and fathered a daughter, Maia, with her. Marie-Thérèse
lived in the vain hope that Picasso would one day marry her, and
hanged herself four years after Picasso's death.
photographer and painter Dora Maar
was also a constant companion and lover of Picasso. The two were
closest in the late 1930s and early 1940s and it was Maar who
documented the painting of Guernica.
the Second World War, Picasso remained in Paris while the Germans
occupied the city. Picasso's artistic style did not fit the Nazi
views of art, so he was not able to show his works during this time.
Retreating to his studio, he continued to paint all the while.
Although the Germans outlawed bronze
casting in Paris, Picasso continued regardless, using bronze smuggled
to him by the French resistance.
the liberation of Paris
in 1944, Picasso began to keep company with a young art student,
The two eventually became lovers, and had two children together,
Claude and Paloma.
Unique among Picasso's women, Gilot left Picasso in 1953, allegedly
because of abusive treatment and infidelities.
This came as a severe blow to Picasso.
went through a difficult period after Gilot's departure, coming to
terms with his advancing age and his perception that, now in his 70s,
he was no longer attractive, but rather grotesque to young women. A
number of ink drawings from this period explore this theme of the
hideous old dwarf as buffoonish counterpoint to the beautiful young
girl, including several from a six-week affair with Geneviève Laporte,
who in June 2005 auctioned off the drawings Picasso made of her.
was not long in finding another lover, Jacqueline Roque. Roque worked
at the Madoura Pottery, where Picasso made and painted ceramics. The
two remained together for the rest of Picasso's life, marrying in
1961. Their marriage was also the means of one last act of revenge
against Gilot. Gilot had been seeking a legal means to legitimize her
children with Picasso, Claude and Paloma. With Picasso's
encouragement, she had arranged to divorce her then husband, Luc
Simon, and marry Picasso to secure her children's rights. Picasso
then secretly married Roque after Gilot had filed for divorce in
order to exact his revenge for her leaving him.
had constructed a huge gothic
structure and could afford large villas in the south of France, at
Notre-dame-de-vie on the outskirts of Mougins, in the
Although he was a celebrity, there was often as much interest in his
personal life as his art.
addition to his manifold artistic accomplishments, Picasso had a film
career, including a cameo appearance in Jean Cocteau's
Testament of Orpheus.
Picasso always played himself in his film appearances. In 1955 he
helped make the film Le Mystère Picasso(The Mystery of Picasso)
directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.
Picasso died on April 8,
while he and his wife Jacqueline entertained friends for dinner. His
were "Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can't drink
He was interred at Castle Vauvenargues' park, in Vauvenargues,
Jacqueline Roque prevented his children Claude and Paloma from
attending the funeral.
remained neutral during World War I,
the Spanish Civil War
and World War II,
refusing to fight for any side or country. Picasso never commented on
this but encouraged the idea that it was because he was a
Some of his contemporaries, including Braque, felt that this
neutrality had more to do with cowardice than principle.
As a Spanish citizen living in France,
Picasso was under no compulsion to fight against the invading Germans
in either World War. In the Spanish Civil War, service for Spaniards
living abroad was optional and would have involved a voluntary return
to the country to join either side. While Picasso expressed anger and
condemnation of Francisco Franco
through his art, he did not take up arms against them. He also
remained aloof from the Catalan
independence movement during his youth despite expressing general
support and being friendly with activists within it. No political
movement seemed to compel his support to any great degree, though he
did become a member of the Communist Party.
1944 Picasso joined the French Communist Party,
attended an international peace
conference in Poland,
and in 1950 received the Stalin
Peace Prize from the Soviet government.
But party criticism of a portrait of Stalin
as insufficiently realistic cooled Picasso's interest in communist
politics, though he remained a loyal member of the Communist Party
until his death. His beliefs tended towards
a 1945 interview with Jerome Seckler, Picasso declared: "I am a
communist and my painting is a communist painting. But if I were a
shoemaker, royalist or communist or anything else, I would not
necessarily hammer my shoes in any special way to show my politics."
work is often categorized into periods. While the names of many of
his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in
his work are the Blue Period
(1901–1904), the Rose Period
(1905–1907), the African-influenced Period
(1908–1909), Analytic Cubism
(1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism
1939 - 40 the Museum of Modern Art
in New York City,
under its director Alfred Barr,
a Picasso enthusiast, held a major and highly successful
retrospective of his principal works up until that time. This
exhibition lionized the artist, brought into full public view in
America the scope of his artistry, and resulted in a reinterpretation
of his work by contemporary art historians and scholars.
training under his father began before 1890. His progress can be
traced in the collection of early works now held by the Museu Picasso
which provides one of the most comprehensive records extant of any
major artist's beginnings.
During 1893 the juvenile quality of his earliest work falls away; by
1894 his career as a painter can be said to have begun.
The academic realism apparent in the works of the mid-1890s is well
displayed in The First Communion
(1896), a large composition that depicts his sister, Lola. In the
same year, at the age of 14, he painted Portrait of Aunt Pepa,
a vigorous and dramatic portrait that Juan-Eduardo Cirlot has called
"without a doubt one of the greatest in the whole history of
1897 his realism became tinged with Symbolist
influence, in a series of landscape paintings rendered in non
naturalistic violet and green tones. What some call his Modernist
period (1899-1900) followed. His exposure to the work of Rossetti,
and Edvard Munch,
combined with his admiration for favorite old masters such as El Greco,
led Picasso to a personal version of modernism in his works of this
For more details on this topic, see Picasso's Blue Period.
Blue Period (1901–1904) consists of somber paintings rendered
in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other
colours. This period's starting point is uncertain; it may have begun
in Spain in the spring of 1901, or in Paris in the second half of the
In his austere use of color and sometimes doleful subject
are frequent subjects—Picasso was influenced by a trip through
Spain and by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. Starting in
autumn of 1901 he painted several posthumous portraits of Casagemas,
culminating in the gloomy allegorical painting La Vie,
painted in 1903 and now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Picasso, Les Noces de Pierrette,
same mood pervades the well-known etching The Frugal Repast
(1904), which depicts a blind man and a sighted woman, both
emaciated, seated at a nearly bare table. Blindness is a recurrent
theme in Picasso's works of this period, also represented in The Blindman's Meal
(1903, the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
and in the portrait of Celestina
(1903). Other frequent subjects are artists,
The harlequin, a comedic character usually depicted in checkered
patterned clothing, became a personal symbol for Picasso.
For more details on this topic, see Picasso's Rose Period.
Rose Period (1905–1907) is characterized by a more cheery style
with orange and pink colors, and again featuring many harlequins.
Picasso met Fernande Olivier, a model for sculptors and artists, in
Paris in 1904, and many of these paintings are influenced by his warm
relationship with her, in addition to his increased exposure to
For more details on this topic, see Picasso's African Period.
African-influenced Period (1907–1909) begins with the two
figures on the right in his painting, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon,
which were inspired by African artifacts. Formal ideas developed
during this period lead directly into the Cubist period that follows.
For more details on this topic, see Analytic cubism.
cubism (1909–1912) is a style of painting Picasso developed
along with Braque
using monochrome brownish colours. Both artists took apart objects
and "analyzed" them in terms of their shapes. Picasso and
Braque's paintings at this time are very similar to each other.
For more details on this topic, see Synthetic cubism.
cubism (1912–1919) is a further development of Cubism in which
cut paper fragments—often wallpaper or portions of newspaper
pages—are pasted into compositions, marking the first use of
in fine art.
the period following the upheaval of World War I
Picasso produced work in a neoclassical
style. This "return to order" is evident in the work of
many European artists in the 1920s, including Derain,
Giorgio de Chirico,
and the artists of the New Objectivity
movement. Picasso's paintings and drawings from this period
frequently recall the work of Ingres.
the 1930s, the minotaur
replaced the harlequin as a motif which he used often in his work.
His use of the minotaur came partly from his contact with the
who often used it as their symbol, and appears in Picasso's
Picasso's most famous work is his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica
during the Spanish Civil War
This large canvas embodies for many the inhumanity, brutality and
hopelessness of war.
Asked to explain its symbolism, Picasso said, "It isn't up to
the painter to define the symbols. Otherwise it would be better if he
wrote them out in so many words! The public who look at the picture
must interpret the symbols as they understand them."
hung in New York's Museum of Modern Art
for many years. In 1981 Guernica
was returned to Spain and exhibited at the Casón del Buen Retiro.
In 1992 the painting hung in Madrid's Reina Sofía Museum
when it opened.
was one of 250 sculptors who exhibited in the 3rd Sculpture International
held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
in the summer of 1949. In the 1950s Picasso's style changed once
again, as he took to producing reinterpretations of the art of the
great masters. He made a series of works based on Velazquez's
painting of Las Meninas.
He also based paintings on works of art by Goya,
was commissioned to make a maquette
for a huge 50 foot high public sculpture
to be built in Chicago,
known usually as the Chicago Picasso.
He approached the project with a great deal of enthusiasm, designing
a sculpture which was ambiguous and somewhat controversial. What the
figure represents is not known; it could be a bird, a horse, a woman
or a totally abstract shape. The sculpture, one of the most
recognizable landmarks in downtown Chicago, was unveiled in 1967.
Picasso refused to be paid $100,000 for it, donating it to the people
of the city.
final works were a mixture of styles, his means of expression in
constant flux until the end of his life. Devoting his full energies
to his work, Picasso became more daring, his works more colourful and
expressive, and from 1968 through 1971 he produced a torrent of
paintings and hundreds of copperplate etchings. At the time these
works were dismissed by most as pornographic fantasies of an impotent
old man or the slapdash works of an artist who was past his prime.
One long time admirer, Douglas Cooper, called them "the
incoherent scribblings of a frenetic old man".
Only later, after Picasso's death, when the rest of the art world had
moved on from abstract expressionism, did the critical community come
to see that Picasso had already discovered neo-expressionism
and was, as so often before, ahead of his time.
the time of his death many of his paintings were in his possession,
as he had kept off the art market what he didn't need to sell. In
addition, Picasso had a considerable collection of the work of other
famous artists, some his contemporaries, such as Henri Matisse,
with whom he had exchanged works. Since Picasso left no will, his
death duties (estate tax) to the French state were paid in the form
of his works and others from his collection. These works form the
core of the immense and representative collection of the Musée Picasso
in Paris. In 2003, relatives of Picasso inaugurated a museum
dedicated to him in his birthplace, Málaga, Spain, the Museo Picasso Málaga.
features many of Picasso's early works, created while he was living
in Spain, including many rarely seen works which reveal Picasso's
firm grounding in classical techniques. The museum also holds many
precise and detailed figure studies done in his youth under his
father's tutelage, as well as the extensive collection of Jaime
Sabartés, Picasso's close friend from his Barcelona days who,
for many years, was Picasso's personal secretary.
film Surviving Picasso
was made about Picasso in 1996, as seen through the eyes of Françoise Gilot.
played Picasso in the movie.
paintings by Picasso rank among the most expensive paintings in the world.
"Nude on a black armchair"
- sold for USD
$45.1 million in 1999 to Les Wexner,
who then donated it to the Wexner Center for the Arts.
Les Noces de Pierrette
- sold for more than USD
$51 million in 1999.
Garçon à la pipe-
sold for USD
$104 million at Sotheby's
on May 4,
establishing a new price record.
Dora Maar au Chat
- sold for USD
$95.2 million at Sotheby's on May 3,
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