Picasso began to paint at the young age of seven while assisted by his father. He was an artistic prodigy: at 14 years old he completed the one-month qualifying examination of the Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona, in one single day. He studied in Barcelona and Madrid. Pablo Picasso, the inventor of Cubism, along with Georges Braque, was probably the most famous artist of the twentieth century.
His artistic career lasted almost 75 years. An extremely prolific artist, in his lifetime he created literally thousands of works in many different mediums. Picasso changed the face of Modern Art, more profoundly than any other artist of his time. He died on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France at the age of 91.
"Youth has no age."
"Colors, like features, follow the changes of the motions."
"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."
"Everything you can imagine is real."
"Give me a museum and I'll fill it."
"We don't grow older, we grow riper."
"Taste is the enemy of creativeness."
"Bad artist copy. Good artist steal."
"I'd like to live like a poor man with lots of money."
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."
The dynamic Old Spaniard!
Location:The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Picasso's painting went through many phases. In 1905-1906 his palette began to lighten and what is called 'The Rose Period' began. Circus performers and clowns appeared and were to populate his paintings at various stages through his long career.
Location:Franklin Bowles Galleries, San Francisco, USA
Picasso produced a number of images based on Edouard Manet famous painting Luncheon on the Grass (Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe, 1863). He explored the different possible interpretations of the relationships between the characters in the cubist style. The unrealistic blueness of the nude's skin suggests shadows and night.
Location:The Alex L. Hillman Family Foundation, New York, NY, USA
Picasso, aged 39, had recently married Olga Kokhlova and was now a father for the first time. His personal life becomes more tranquil and his style changes away from cubism. He paints monumental and classically modelled figures. The summer is spent at the seaside. "The colossal women are calm, but theirs is a calmness that arises not only from their remote, almost expressionless faces, but even more from their noble mass, their generally immobile volumes." (O'Brian)
Location:. The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA.
In the centre of the picture two fishermen in a boat, one peering with a hideous grimace into the water and the other making frantic efforts to secure their catch were being watched by two girls in gay frocks. One of them, wheeling her bicycle along the quay, licked a double ice-cream cone with a sharp blue tongue like a bee drinking honey from a flower. The decoy lamp, to the fish a treacherous substitute for the sun, hung ambiguously on the horizon. Over its yellow surface Picasso had drawn a red spiral, his early symbol for a source of nourishment (Penrose).
Location:The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA.
"This painting demonstrates Picasso's dazzling ability to present visual complexities that include the superb geometric variations of triangle and circle in the headdress; the dramatic light contrasts that run from the brilliant, milky whites of the Pierrot to the sombre, shadowy blacks of the monk; the equilibrium of solid-coloured planes among the more intricate patterns of veils of the two masks at the right; the circular motifs of solid and void in the recorder's finger holes, the music notation, and the seeing but unseen eyes of these phantom minstrels; and the poetic Cubist analogy made between the three strings of the guitar and the three-lined staffs of the music" ( Rosenblum)
Location:Penrose collection, London, UK
Picasso painted many versions of the "weeping Woman". This may be the most well-known of these paintings. It is painted in highly saturated colours, dominated by a mustard yellow, accentuated with black, purple, green and red, and white tinged with purple. Rather than expressing a festive feeling, the colours of here create a morbid effect that highlights her anguished features. "the white handkerchief.. hides nothing of the agonized grimace on her lips; it serves merely to bleach her cheeks with the colour of death" ( Penrose) Her swollen fingers, the handkerchief gripped in her teeth, and the cylindrical tears pouring from her eyes become fused into one motif. Her eyeballs fringed with dark lashes are askew from their sockets. The whole conveys the inner feeling of agony (Goggin).
Location:Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
On April 27th, 1937 an unprecedented atrocity was perpetrated on behalf of the Spanish dictator Franco against the civilian population of a little Basque village in northern Spain. Chosen for bombing practice by Hitler's air force, the hamlet was pounded with high-explosive and incendiary bombs for over three hours. Guernica burned for three days and sixteen hundred civilians were killed or wounded. When the news reached Paris, more than a million protesters flooded the streets to voice their outrage. Picasso was stunned by the stark black and white photographs. Appalled and enraged, Picasso rushed through the crowded streets to his studio, where he quickly sketched the first images for the mural became Guernica. From the beginning, Picasso chooses not to represent the horror of Guernica in realist or romantic terms. Key figures - a woman with outstretched arms, a bull, and an agonized horse - are refined in sketch after sketch, and then transferred to the capacious canvas, which he also reworked several times. "A painting is not thought out and settled in advance," said Picasso. "While it is being done, it changes as one's thoughts change. And when it's finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it." Three months later, Guernica was delivered to the Spanish Pavilion, where the Paris Exposition was already in progress.
Location:The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA
In 1907, Picasso in a fury of creativity produced a nerve-shattering, grim, thoroughly unpleasant-yet spectacularly beautiful-image of humanity that would change art forever. This world-shaking image was of cousre, his ragged, chaotic, inchoate, and possibly evil study of women that surrealist Max Jacob dubbed Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. The large painting is disturbing, abhorrent, repellent, and at the same time magnetic, unforgettable, and lyrical.
Learning art through great artists and their paintings is fun and exciting. Our friend and resident artist Stefan Mager has kindly given this introduction to the art world.