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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Pablo Picasso

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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)- one of the most recognized figures of 20th century art, co-created such styles as Cubism and Surrealism, was also among most innovative, influential, and prolific artists of all time.

He was born Pablo Ruiz Picasso on October 6, 1881, in Malaga, Spain. His father was an artist and professor of art at the School of Fine Arts, and also a curator of the museum in Malaga. Picasso first studied art formally at the Academy of Arts in Madrid for a year.  After Madrid, Picasso made his first trip to Paris in 1900 and met the journalist and poet Max Jacob. Soon they shared an apartment. These were times of severe poverty, cold, and desperation. Out of necessity, many of Picasso’s pieces were burned to keep warm.  Around, 1901, the artist also began to sign his work simply Picasso, instead of Pablo Ruiz y Picasso.
In 1901 Picasso’s friend Casagemas committed suicide over the rejection of a woman. His death was a great shock to Picasso. He began to use mostly blues and greens in his work. Picasso wrote “I began to paint in blue, when I realized that Casademas had died”.  This marks the beginning of Picasso’s famous Blue Period (1901–1904).  By 1905, Picasso lightened his palette, using pink, rose, yellow-ochre and gray. His circus performers, harlequins and acrobats also became more graceful. This marked the beginning of Picasso’s Rose Period (1904–1906) and financial success.  Also in 1905, Picasso caught the eye of American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein.

Constantly experimenting with his style, he was an innovator and influenced almost every art movement of the 20th century.  Picasso’s African-influenced Period (1907–1909) begins with perhaps his most famous painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which was inspired by African artifacts.  Formal ideas developed during this period and into the Cubist period that follows. Analytic cubism (1909–1912) is a style of painting Picasso developed using monochrome neutral colors and breaking down subjects to their most basic shapes.  Classicism and surrealism periods followed after World War I.

In 1940, Picasso applied for French citizenship, but was denied it, and remained Spanish. Protected by his fame, he was untouchable even to the Nazis in the occupied Paris. After World War II, his work returned to a “classical” style and he created the “Dove of Peace”.  Picasso’s dove became the symbol of the Paris World Peace Conference in 1949.  The USSR awarded Picasso the International Stalin Peace Prize twice, once in 1950 and for the second time in 1961 (by this time, the award had been renamed the International Lenin Peace Prize, as a result of destalinization).

His lifestyle was always bohemian. Picasso died while entertaining his guests at a dinner party, on April 8, 1973, in Mouglins, in southeastern France. It is reported that his last words were “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”

Pablo Picasso’s paintings rank among the most expensive artwork in the world, establishing a price record with $104 million sale of “Garson a la pipe” in 2004. Picasso produced over 13 thousand paintings or designs, 100,000 prints and engravings, 34 thousand book illustrations and 300 sculptures, becoming the most prolific artist ever.

Between October 8, 2010 and January 9, 2011, an exhibition of 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs from the Museé National Picasso in Paris will be on display at the Seattle Art Museum. From Feb 19, 2011 to May 15, 2011, the exhibition from the Museé National Picasso will move to Richmond, VA and be on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for its only appearance on the east coast of the United States.

Personal Quotes

“When I was a child, my mother said to me, “If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.” Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

“Good taste is the enemy of creativity.”

“Everyone wants to understand painting. Why is there no attempt to understand the song of the birds?”

“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

“Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.”

“It isn’t necessary to paint a man with a gun. An apple can be just as revolutionary.”

“You should have an idea of what it is you want to do . . . but it should be a vague idea.”

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