The Legendary Life Of Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was one of the greatest and the most influential artists of the 20th century.
Born in Spain, he spent most of his adult life in France. His multi-faceted talents included art works in multiple mediums like sculptures, ceramics, mosaics, sketches and paintings.
Picasso was such a non-conformist genius that he went on breaking the rules of classical art and invented, through experimentation and innovation, his own numerous styles. For him, art was a medium of aesthetic expression, the form and the meaning being inconsequential to it.
He was instrumental (along with other avant-garde artists like Matisse, Braque, Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein) in developing the spectrum of unorthodox, abstract and powerful art styles that we now call as the “Modern Art”.
Born as Pablo Ruiz with an unusually long baptismal name coined by joining together half a dozen saint names, he later adopted his maiden name Picasso as his last name.
Precocious from birth, his mother often prided in telling the acquaintances with tinge of amusement that the first words her son learned to speak were “piz, piz” meaning “pencil, pencil”.
His father, an art teacher, started teaching him how to draw and paint from early childhood. By the time Picasso was thirteen, he surpassed his father’s skills.
However, he was a poor student at school and spent most of his time doodling in his notebooks. Often he got confined in a solitary cell at school as punishment, which was a welcome opportunity for him to work alone on his sketchpad and wished he could stay there forever.
At the age of 14 the family moved to Barcelona where, though under-aged, he secured admission into the city’s prestigious School of Fine Arts because of his exceptional talents. There too he detested to conform to the school’s strict rules and regulations and would rather skip the classes and roam the streets of Barcelona sketching the commonplace scenes of the city life.
Two years later he went to Madrid to study at the Royal Academy of San Fernando. Here again he was not happy with the Academy’s excessive focus on classical subjects and techniques.
He skipped the classes and wandered the city streets to mix with the beggars, gypsies and prostitutes who became the subject material for his paintings.
After his studies he moved to Paris, the cultural center of European art, and opened his own art studio there.
Picasso’s works of art span a series of distinct but overlapping periods depending on his frame of mind.
The paintings like “Blue Nude”, “La Vie” and “The Old Guitarist” of 1903 are examples of Blue Period representing his gloomy and melancholic state of mind.
It followed the Rose Period of warmer colors which included his famous paintings like “Gertrude Stein” and “Two Nudes”.
By this time Picasso painted his classic “Les Demoislles d’Avignon” (1907), a distorted and abstracted depiction of five nude prostitutes with sharp geometric features.
This is considered the precursor of the new artistic style “Cubism” pioneered by Picasso with his friend and fellow painter Georges Baroque, a style that profoundly influenced the direction of 20th century art.
Picasso’s famous cubist paintings include “Three Women” (1907) and “Girl with Mandolin” (1910).
With the outbreak of World War I Picasso briefly entered “Classical Period” with somber paintings like “Three Women at the Spring” (1921) and “The Pipes of Pan” (1923).
The devastating aerial attack by German bombers on the town of Guernica in Basque Province of Spain during the Spanish Civil War moved Picasso to paint the famous Surrealist painting “Guernica” (1937) depicting the horrors of war in black, white and grays.
During the World War II, Picasso flirted with the Communist ideology and was honored twice with the International Lenin Peace Prize. He became an international celebrity by this time.
A year before his death he created his epitomizing work “Self Portrait Facing Death” in pencil and crayon.
Picasso’s personal life, especially the love life, was as colorful, prolific and unbridled as his works of art.
He married twice but had countless relationships with girlfriends, models, mistresses and prostitutes during his lifetime.
His first wife, a Russian ballerina whom he married at the age of 27, stayed with him only for nine years before parting ways.
His second marriage to Jacqueline at the age of 69 lasted till his death. Very much devoted to her husband, Jacqueline became an alcoholic after Picasso’s death and committed suicide four years later.
Picasso fathered four children, of which three out of wedlock.
Picasso died of heart attack on 8 April, 1973 at the age 84 at his home near Cannes.
During his lifetime Picasso created a staggering volume over 22,000 works of art in various mediums, mostly paintings, several of which are preserved in the most prestigious museums of Europe and America.
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