Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, in Malaga, an Andalusian city in Spain. He was the son of Don Jose Ruiz y Blasco and Maria Picasso y Lopez. Picasso is one of the greatest artists of modern art because he contributed so many works to modern painting. His career spanned more than seven decades. Picasso has been described as an infant prodigy, producing art work at an early age much like Mozart’s early experience of writing music.
In the early years, Picasso focused on painting like the great artists of history under the tutelage of his father, a traditional artist and art teacher. By the age of 13, Picasso was studying in Barcelona’s School of Fine Arts. When he transferred to Madrid’s Academy of San Fernando at age 16, he did not stay long.
Picasso moved to Paris in 1900. He shared an apartment with a writer and lived in poverty while painting furiously. Some of his early works were portraits for the Stein family, art collectors from America. By the time he painted the portrait of Daniel Stein in 1910, the Cubist style could be seen in his work.
While in Paris, Picasso became friends with a French painter, Georges Braque. Together, they established a new style of art called Cubism. In the early Cubist paintings of both artists, observers can see elements of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism even as they revolutionize compositions with geometric concepts to give volume and depth to figures and abandon traditional perspective.
In the first Cubist painting, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907), Wilkins et al describe Picasso’s influence by Cezanne’s geometric concepts when he transformed a series of nudist paintings into the final result. “The preliminary study for the painting was in a less revolutionary style and showed two clothed male figures juxtaposed with five female prostitutes…” The final product was provocative; one woman’s female parts even face the observer head on. Three of the women also wear African masks. This painting is beautiful, angry, sexy, and puzzling all at once.
The Cubist style was copied by many artists of the early 1900s and found over several decades in Picasso’s work. For example, the great Surrealist, Salvador Dali, got to know Picasso personally and included Cubist themes in some pictures. Picasso is frequently associated with a mural painted in 1937 called Guernica (1937). He produced this work for the elected Republican government of Spain. This painting shows the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
A full review of Picasso’s work requires studying his many paintings created between Cubism and his death on April 8, 1973.