"Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life." Picasso

1881-1973 Spanish Painter, sculptor

The undisputed genius of the 20th Century painters. Far and away the most successful artist of all time. He was extremely prolific, producing thousands of works of all description; including Oil painting, sculpture and printmaking. He began his life as a very talented realist painter in Spain. In 1897, he began hanging out at the Cabaret, "Els Quatre Gats"; known for intellectuals and artists. It was there he learned of the burgeoning scene in Paris. In 1900 he returned to Barcelona from school. He continued to paint there, sometimes visiting Paris until 1904 when he finally moved to Paris. From 1901 to 1904 was his "blue period", so called for the predominate color of most of his paintings at this time. He was travelling back and forth between Barcelona and Paris. He spent many hours in the Louvre studying the masterworks. At night he was hanging out with fellow artists at cabarets like "Lapin Agile". There he met Guillaume Apollinaire, Amedeo Modigliani, and Maurice Utrillo. The cabaret is located in the Montmartre. Here he develops a substantial taste for L'absinth. There is currently a famous play by Steve Martin called, Picasso at the Lapin Agile. In 1905 and 1906, he became fascinated with clowns, acrobats and circus'. He changed his pallette to include many warm colors. This is known as his "rose period." In 1905 he met Leo and Gertrude Stein and became associated with their amazing Salon which included many of the great artists and writers of the time, including Ernest Hemmingway, Jean Cocteau and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1906, he meets Henri Matisse. In 1907, he painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, he also met Georges Braque in this year. He visits a showing of Salon d'Automne. In 1910, has his first show in America at the Gallery 291 owned by Alfred Stieglitz. From 1910 to 1916, he worked closely with Braque and later with Juan Gris to pioneer what would later be called Cubism. In 1913, his work is part of the Armory Show 1913 in New York City. In 1917 he met Jean Cocteau, the two went to Rome to launch a ballet titled "Parade". Picasso did the sets, Erick Satie wrote the music In 1925 his work is shown in some Surrealism exhibitions, although his work could never be described in that way. From the late 20's onward there was an intense emotional content to his work, including the mythological image of the Minotaur, the dying horse and the weeping woman. These are brought nearly to the status of an archetype by Picasso. In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, having heard of a saturation bombing by the Germans, he painted his great anti-war painting, Guernica. When the German army occupied France, Pablo chose to stay in Paris. He sent the painting out of the country for safe keeping. The Germans asked him if he was responsible for the painting and he replied, "No, YOU are!" In 1949 his "Dove" becomes universal for Peace. In 1958, he painted a mural for UNESCO building. It was hailed as a "masterpiece" by Le Corbusier, but most critics since do not assign it so much importance. During the 60's, he began making large scale scupture with folded sheet metal, some examples of which are public works in New York and Chicago. In 1969 he began a series of 165 paintings. They have brilliant color and rapid execution. They were a great finale for a brilliant life. In 1970, he donated 2,000 paintings and drawings to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. In April of 1973, he died of heart failure during an influenza infection.

Some works include:

His work is in the permanent collections of every major art museum around the world, including:

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Sources: http://home.xnet.com/~stanko/bio.htm Osbourne, Harold, "The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Art", Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1981 Last Updated 04.27.04

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born on October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain. His father, José Ruiz Blanco, was a drawing master and taught at the Provincial School of Fine Arts in Malaga, Spain. His mother was María Picasso López. When Picasso was born, he was believed to have been stillborn. However, his uncle blew smoke in his face and Pablo reacted.

In 1891 Pablo’s family moved to Corunna. He began to take classes at the school where his father taught, and was soon far ahead of the other students. Picasso’s father gave him his paint palette, paints, and paint brushes and never painted again.

In 1895 Picasso’s father began to dislike Corunna, and got a new job in Barcelona. He also requested that Pablo be allowed to take his final exams in advance, but only received approval for one subject. As retaliation, Pablo held a exhibition of his paintings in Corunna before he left. These included Man in a Beggar-Cap, and Old Galician.

During the summer Pablo’s family went back to Malaga to visit. During the visit he painted the Old Fisherman. Picasso attended the Stock Exchange Fine Arts School in Barcelona, and he learned about many painting styles including impressionism, modernism, symbolism, and el greco.

Picasso wanted independence, so in 1896 his parents rented him a painters’ studio. He painted several paintings for contests simply because he knew it would make his father happy. At the General Fine Arts Exhibition is Madrid Pablo won an Honorable Mention for Science and Charity, and so his father decided to send him to Madrid to learn from Munoz Degrain. He rebelled against this though, and stopped going to his classes. In 1898 he caught scarlet fever, and after he recovered he went home to Barcelona. Picasso had four periods during his life, and the first was called the Blue period. Many of his paintings from this period were done with many shades of blue, green and yellow, and were centered around the pain and suffering of poor and crippled people.

In 1904 Picasso moved to Paris. His life began to change, however, and his inward-looking blue period gave way to the Rose Period. During the Rose Period, he painted mostly happy scenes, and used bright reds and yellows and browns. In 1907, Picasso began painting using a new style, which was later called Cubism. Picasso considered Cubism a way of translating reality, and he was always trying to show people that there was more to see than what you notice right away.

Sometime around 1924, Pablo began to paint in surrealism. On April 26, 1937 the Germans bombed a small Spanish city named Guernica. This outraged Picasso, and 5 days later he began to sketch out a painting that ended up being named Guernica. Between 1967 and early 1973, Picasso’s output became enormous. He painted, sculpted and engraved simultaneously.

On April 8, 1973 Pablo Picasso died at Notre-Dame de Vie. He was buried at Vauvenargues.

Pablo Picasso was arguably one of the most prolific, and least understood of the twentieth century modernists. He was a vanguard of a movement that involved the audience in the viewing and imagining of his work; work that he did, not so much for others, but for himself. The challenge for cubism and the modernist movement as a whole was the reception of the audience to something new.

The mainstream by, definition, is rarely open to new forms of expression. When Picasso and his associates broke away from the established norm of realistic portrayals, many believed they were walking a short plank to obscurity and were certainly striding the double edged sword of artistic freedom. The level of interactivity in the cubist movement and its ability to touch each individual who opens themselves to expression is surely responsible for its, and Picasso’s, continuing popularity in a world where many people consider him to be little more than a fraud with no talent. Some will claim that anyone, even children, could compete on his level. What they don’t realize is that he was a talented artist, who could have easily competed with contemporary realists and was very capable of accurate and precise renderings.

As with many bold statements though, there is some truth to what the naysayer claims. A child could compete with Pablo in some ways, for many of these children don’t know and aren’t bound by the rules of “proper” art. They create vivid worlds of color and bombastic shapes straight from their imagination. Until they are scolded for coloring outside the lines, they create art much like Picasso did, for them selves. They actively use their imagination to affect the art they compose, relying on the imagination of their audience to fill in the details. It took effort and dedication for Picasso to let go of his training and paint with his mind rather than his eyes and his hands.

Picasso followed an almost Zen approach to artistic achievement, letting go of the barriers and borders of traditional realism. His work forced the viewer to utilize a portion of them selves to flavor the art with their own perceptions. He didn’t simply render an image as it was, as imagine what an image could be. In Picasso’s own words:

“To search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing. The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution, or steps towards an unknown ideal of painting...When I have found something to express, I have done it without thinking of the past or of the future."

Picasso claims that the traditional artists were searching, stretching for the perfect stroke of the brush, or blend of color to render the perfect image, one which encompasses the world as they saw it, without realizing that everyone perceives the world differently. Picasso’s solution was to let go, to embrace nothingness. No form, no technique, sometimes, no palette. Enlightenment comes not from the search for what can not be found, but in the surrender to what already is possessed.

Picasso realized, as many of his peers did, that the world is perceived differently by every person, that art wasn’t simply the reflection of light but also the decoding of that light by the mind of the audience, and ultimately their emotional investment in the final result. An attempt to achieve that perfect realism was flawed if the rules of perception change for every viewer. Instead, they chose to activate the mind of the viewer to engage their imagination and emotion by simply suggesting the shape or color of what an image could be. In this way they freed every member of their audience to perceive something different, to create their own perfection. Their paintings were a tool to imaginative freedom, not the end result of artistic expression and allowed every person who saw their work to participate in the works completion.

interview published in The Arts, 1923

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