Art represents beauty. It represents the soul and spirit of the artist. It’s a form of communication that the artist can use as a substitution for words. Art has flourished the world for thousands of years and it has no intentions on stopping. One of the most important figure’s in modern art (Selfridge, 15) is a man by the name of Pablo Picasso. He has taken the world into many places and has enabled us to see many abstract creations through his artwork alone. (Selfridge, 20)
Born on October 25, 1881, Picasso was a miracle right from the start. There were complications with birth and everyone was sure that he wasn’t going to make it, but then Picasso’s uncle, Salvador Ruiz, was able to make this tragedy a miracle. He exhaled a puff of cigar smoke into the baby’s nostrils and suddenly, he joined the world of the living(Selfridge, 23). Picasso’s miraculous ways didn’t end there. He was soon to become one of the most well known artists of all times.
Picasso’s love for art was somewhat genetic. (Duncun, 45) His father, Jose Ruiz Blasco, was a painter as well and he loved art. Picasso was quick to express his desire for art. At the age of four, he was drawing detailed pictures with astounding results. (Duncun, 47) During school, Picasso would pay little if any attention to his work or the lecture that the teacher was giving. Instead, he spent his time making sketches of his fellow classmates. (Duncun, 52)
At the age of 13, Picasso was enrolled at an art school where his father taught, and suddenly his academic habits changed. He began to apply himself to his work, showing interest in what he was doing, and his grades showed a vast improvement. (Galwitz, 92) The family moved to Malaga and on the way there they stopped at their uncle Salvador’s house. While they were there, Salvador was so intrigued by Picasso’s work that he provided him with a studio and an allowance. (Galwitz, 95) The family moved to Barcelona and Picasso attended school at the Lota, a school of fine arts. He was beyond everyone else in the school and it wasn’t much of a challenge. (Galwitz, 96)
Picasso continued to paint, but he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more and had dreams to revolutionize painting. He realized that the only way of doing this would be to attend Madrid’s Royal Academy of San Fernando, which is well known for having the most demanding artistic training in the country. (Jaffe, 113) In the fall of 1897, that’s exactly what Picasso did; he enrolled. Even though he was at the greatest school, he still was finishing his work early, leaving him a lot of time on his hands. (Jaffe, 117)
The school didn’t work out, so Picasso went to Paris, which was one of his dreams He was able to explore the streets, cafs, and museums that Paris had to offer. An art dealer, by the name of Pere Manach, was impressed by the work he had seen of Picasso’s and offered him a deal. He would pay him 150 francs every month for all of the work he had completed in that time period. (Selfridge, 85) Although Picasso left back to Spain, he agreed and they made arrangements to make an exchange every month. Picasso received word that a well respected art dealer named Ambroise Vollard wanted to exhibit his work, so Picasso returned to Paris for the occasion. (Selfridge, 88)
The exhibit turned out to be very successful, and fifteen pieces of Picasso’s was purchased before the exhibit was opened. Picasso returned to Spain and continued his work there. A good friend of his named Casagemos committed suicide, which made Picasso very depressed. He showed his emotions through his work by painting mostly in shades of blue. This is known as his blue period, where all his subjects dealt with poverty, depression, and human struggle. (Westernbaker, 162)
In 1905, Picasso met a woman named Gertrude Stein and he immediately wanted to use her in his portraits. It took him about 90 sittings and he still wasn’t satisfied with the work he did of her, so he took a break and went back to Spain to introduce Olivier to his family. It was just what he needed. By the time he returned he had an idea of what he needed to do in order to complete his portrait of Gertrude. He scrambled her face and created it as an African tribal mask. This was a new idea that had never been used. Picasso refused to be frozen into a historical monument by practicing only one style(Jaffe, 44). This particular idea made lasting impressions for 20th century art. (Dunkun, 146)
A certain painting that Picasso did called the Les Demoiselles d ‘Avignon is recognized as the most important painting in the history of modern art(Selfridge, 49). It had dimensions, the human form was reassembled into pieces, and it set the stage for abstract art. During his abstract moment, Picasso met a French artist named Georges Braque, and they instantly had a connection. They experimented with each other, which led to a movement known as cubism. Cubists emphasized on the abstraction in art. These two artists solved the problem of how to represent 3 dimensions on a 2 dimensional canvas. (Selfridge, 56)
Picasso was interested in trying new forms of art. He broke the normal ways of sculpting by making it more constructed. He was the one who created the world’s first collage, by gluing all sorts of objects on a background. His work was exhibited in major cities, including Munich, New York, and Vienna. (Galwitz, 138)
Picasso decided to try something new, so he became involved with helping a ballet performance. He was in charge of designing the costumes and the settings for the stage. While working, he met one of the ballerina’s named Olga Kokhlora and became interested in her. He was able to sweep her off her feet and love developed between the two. (Warthenbaker, 195)
Picasso and Olga were married in 1918 in Paris, and had a son in 1921. With the riches Picasso was getting came prosperity, so they decided to move into a more high society area. Picasso quickly grew tired of the servants and the upscale lifestyle, so the family moved back to less elite area. Picasso grew bored of his relationship with Olga and ended up having an affair with and 18 year old named Marie Therese Walter. (Warthenbaker, 206)
Picasso was asked by the Replicans to serve as director of Spain’s Prado Museum, and to paint a mural for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair. He accepted the offer and the work he completed were called Guernica. (Dunkun, 169)
During this time the Nazi party began to take over. The Germans harassed Picasso by taking his paintings and damaging some of them pretty badly. The Nazi party prohibited the work of Picasso to be exhibited anywhere. Things didn’t get any better for Picasso for a while, and he had to see a number of friends incarcerated. (Galwitz, 153)
Paris was finally free from the harassment when it was liberated from the Germans. About a month after this happened, Picasso joined the Communist party. He met a painter named Francoise Gilot who was very interested in Picasso’s work. She was 40 years younger than he was, but they ended up moving in together. They had a son in 1947, and moved to France in 1948. This is where Picasso decided to bring back the love for ceramics had fallen apart during World War I. Picasso and Francoise had another child in 1949, and this time it was a girl, which pleased Picasso.
In 1950, Picasso won the Lenon Peace Prize. In 1952, he planned to decorate a 14th century chapel in Vallauris. Picasso was a very busy man, and had little time for anything else but his work. The relationship between him and Francoise was empty, so her and the children decided to move back to Paris. (Jaffe, 120) Not long after his separation, he met a model named Sylvette David and within a month, he completed around forty drawings and oils of her. This infatuation lasted until he met another woman he was interested in named Jacqueline Roque. She moved in with him, and they were married in 1961. By this time, Picasso was 80 years old, but by no means was he slowing down. (Jaffe, 124)
Picasso’s work continued to be displayed and admired in the most elite galleries around the world. In 1965, at the age of 83, his busy life was finally catching up with him, and his health was starting to fail. He had to have gallbladder and prostate surgery, and in 1972, Picasso was admitted into a hospital due to severe pulmonary congestion. Despite his illness, he happened to have enough energy to make another painting, and write a letter to the woman he claimed to have been the only love of his life, Marie-Therese Walter. (Jaffe, 136)
It was April 8, 1973 when Picasso took his final breath. He could no longer fight for his life. He left many great achievements with the world, which included 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics; 18,095 engravings; 6,112 lithographs; and around 12,000 drawings. It is commonly thought that if a historian of the future [was shown] Picasso’s work in the absence of any documentation, [he] could never believe that all [of it] was created by one man, one mind(Jaffe, 44).
Pablo Picasso was a genius when it came to art. He was a creator of forms, languages, myths, and beauty. He was committed to life, both the positive and negative things about it. His expressions were shown through his work and shown to the world. His art flourished in the past and hasn’t stopped yet. He may be buried, but he will never die in the public’s eye!
Duncun, David Douglas. Goodbye Picasso. New York: Grossel & Dunlap; 1974.
Galwitz, Klaus. Picasso at 90; The Late Work. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons; 1971.
Jaffe, Hans L.C. Picasso. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1983.
Selfridge, John W. Pablo Picasso. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1994.
Wertenbaker, Lael. The World of Picasso 1881-1973. New York: Time-Life Books,