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Pablo Ruiz Picasso (October 25, 1881 in Málaga, Spain – April 8, 1973) was a Spanish painter and sculptor. One of the most recognized figures in 20th century art, he is best known as the co-founder, along with Georges Braque, of cubism.
Picasso's work is often categorized into "periods". While the names of many of his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in his work are:
Blue Period (1901–1904), consisting of somber, blue-tinted paintings influenced by a trip through Spain and the recent death of a friend, often featuring depictions of acrobats, harlequins, prostitutes, beggars and artists.
Rose Period (1905–1907), characterized by a more cheery style with orange and pink colors, and again featuring many harlequins. He met Fernande Olivier, a model for sculptors and artists, in Paris at this time, and many of these paintings are influenced by his warm relationship with her, in addition to his exposure to French painting.
African-influenced Period (1908–1909), influenced by the two figures on the right in his painting of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, he used African artifacts as the inspiration for his work.
Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), a style of painting he developed along with Braque using monochrome brownish colours, where they took apart objects and "analyzed" them in terms of their shapes. Picasso and Braque's paintings at this time are very similar to each other.
Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), involving the use of collage and cut paper, the first time collage had been used in fine art.
Pablo Diego José Santiago Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Crispín Crispiniano de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso was born on October 25, 1881 in Málaga, Spain, the first child of José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y López.
Picasso's father, José Ruiz y Blasco (who also recognized the potential of Picasso's art talent and taught his son everything he knew about painting), was himself a painter, and for most of his life a professor of art at the School of Fine Arts and Crafts and a curator of a local museum. It was from his father that Picasso learned the basics of formal academic art training, such as figure drawing and painting in oil. Although Picasso attended art schools throughout his childhood, often those where his father taught, he never finished his college-level course of study at the Academy of Arts (Academia de San Fernando) in Madrid, leaving after less than a year.
The Museu Picasso in Barcelona features many of Picasso's early works, created while he was living in Spain, as well as the extensive collection of Jaime Sabartés, Picasso's close friend from his Barcelona days who, for many years, was Picasso's personal secretary. There are many precise and detailed figure studies done in his youth under his father's tutelage, as well as rarely seen works from his old age that clearly demonstrate Picasso's firm grounding in classical techniques.
Picasso used harlequins in many of his early works, especially in his Blue and Rose Periods. A comedic character usually depicted in checkered patterned clothing, the harlequin became a personal symbol for Picasso. During the 1930s, the minotaur replaced the harlequin as a motif which he used often in his work. His use of the minotaur came partly from his contact with the surrealists, who often used it as their symbol, and appears in Picasso's Guernica.
The Guinness Book of Records names Picasso as the most prolific painter ever – In his lifetime, he produced around 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, 34,000 book illustrations and 300 sculptures.
Picasso remained neutral during the Spanish Civil War, World War I and World War II, refusing to fight for any side or country. Picasso never commented on this but encouraged the idea that it was because he was a pacifist. Some of his contemporaries though (including Braque) felt that this neutrality had more to do with cowardice than principle.
As a Spanish citizen living in France, Picasso was under no compulsion to fight against the invading Germans in either world war. In the Spanish Civil War, service for Spaniards living abroad was optional and would have involved a voluntary return to the country to join either side. While Picasso expressed anger and condemnation of Franco and the Fascists through his art he did not take up arms against them.
He also remained aloof from the Catalan independence movement during his youth despite expressing general support and being friendly with activists within it. No political movement seemed to compel his support to any great degree, though he did become a member of the Communist Party.
During the Second World War, Picasso resided in Paris when the Germans occupied the city. The Nazis hated his style of painting, so he was not able to show his works during this time. He retreated into his studio, continuing to paint all the while. While the Germans outlawed bronze casting in Paris, Picasso was still able to continue because of the French resistance who would smuggle bronze to him.
Arguably Picasso's most famous work is his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica, Spain — Guernica. This large canvas embodies for many the inhumanity, brutality and hopelessness of war. The act of painting was captured in a series of photographs by Picasso's most famous lover, Dora Maar, a distinguished artist in her own right. Guernica hung in New York's Museum of Modern Art for many years. In 1981 Guernica was returned to Spain and exhibited at the Casón del Buen Retiro. In 1992 the painting hung in the Madrid's Reina Sofía Museum when it opened.
After the Second World War, Picasso rejoined the French Communist Party, and even attended an international peace conference in Poland. But party criticism of a portrait of Stalin as insufficiently realistic cooled Picasso's interest in Communist politics, though he remained a loyal member of the Communist Party until his death. His beliefs tended towards anarcho-communism.
Picasso hated to be alone when he wasn't working. In Paris, in addition to having a distinguished coterie of friends in the Montmartre and Montparnasse quarters, including André Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire, writer Gertrude Stein and others, he usually maintained a number of mistresses in addition to his wife or primary partner. Picasso married twice and had four children by three women.
In the early years of the twentieth century, Picasso, still a struggling youth, began a long term relationship with Fernande Olivier. It is she who appears in many of the Rose period paintings. After garnering fame and some fortune, Picasso left Olivier for Marcelle Humbert, whom Picasso called Eva. Picasso included declarations of his love for Eva in many Cubist works. Humbert was diagnosed with cancer and during her rapid deterioration, Picasso administered to her every need, making daily trips across Paris to visit her in the hospital.
In 1918, Picasso married Olga Khoklova, a ballerina with Sergei Diaghilev's troupe, for whom Picasso was designing a ballet, Parade, in Rome. Khoklova introduced Picasso to high society, formal dinner parties, and all the social niceties attendant on the life of the rich in 1920s Paris. The two had a son, Paulo, who would grow up to be a dissolute motorcycle racer and chauffeur to his father.
Khoklova's insistence on social propriety clashed with Picasso's bohemian tendencies and the two lived in a state of constant conflict. In 1927 Picasso met 17 year old Marie-Thérèse Walter and began a secret affair with her. Picasso's marriage to Khoklova soon ended in separation rather than divorce, as French law required an even division of property in the case of divorce and Picasso did not want Khoklova to have half his wealth. The two remained legally married until Khoklova's death in 1955.
Picasso carried on a long-standing affair with Walter and fathered a daughter, Maia, with her. Marie-Thérèse lived in the vain hope that Picasso would one day marry her and hanged herself four years after Picasso's death.
The photographer and painter Dora Maar was also a constant companion and lover of Picasso. The two were closest in the late 1930s and early 1940s and it was Maar who documented the painting of Guernica.
After the liberation of Paris in 1944, Picasso began to keep company with a young art student, Françoise Gilot. The two eventually became lovers, and had two children together, Claude, and Paloma. Uniquely among Picasso's women, Gilot left Picasso in 1953, allegedly because of abusive treatment and infidelities. This came as a severe blow to Picasso.
He went through a difficult period after Gilot's departure, coming to terms with his advancing age and his perception that he was an old man, now in his 70s, who was no longer attractive, but rather grotesque to young women. A number of ink drawings from this period explore this theme of the hideous old dwarf as buffoonish counterpoint to the beautiful young girl, including several from a six-week affair with Geneviève Laporte, who in June 2005 auctioned off the drawings Picasso made of her.
Picasso was not long in finding another lover, Jacqueline Roque. Roque worked at the Madoura Pottery, where Picasso made and painted ceramics. The two remained together for the rest of Picasso's life, marrying in 1961. Their marriage was also the means of one last act of revenge against Gilot. Gilot had been seeking a legal means to legitimize her children with Picasso, Claude and Paloma. With Picasso's encouragement, she had arranged to divorce her then husband, Luc Simon, and marry Picasso to secure her children's rights. Picasso then secretly married Roque after Gilot had filed for divorce in order to exact his revenge for her leaving him.
In addition to his manifold artistic accomplishments, Picasso had a film career, including a cameo appearance in Jean Cocteau's Testament of Orpheus. Picasso always played himself in his film appearances.
In the 1950s his style changed once again as he began looking at the art of the great masters, and making new art about it. He made a series of works based on Velazquez's painting of Las Meninas. He also based paintings on works on art by Goya, Poussin, Manet, Courbet and Delacroix. During this time he lived at Cannes and in 1955 helped make the film Le Mystère Picasso (The Mystery of Picasso) directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.
Picasso had constructed a huge gothic structure and could afford large villas in the south of France, at Notre-dame-de-vie on the outskirts of Mougins, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The media would give him much attention, though they were often more interested in his personal life than his art.
He was commissioned to make a maquette for a huge 50 foot high sculpture to be built in Chicago, Illinois, known usually as the Chicago Picasso. He approached the project with a great deal of enthusiasm, designing a sculpture which was ambiguous and became somewhat controversial. What the figure is exactly is not known; it could be a bird, a horse, a woman or a totally abstract shape. The sculpture, one of the most recognizable landmarks of downtown Chicago was unveiled in 1967. Picasso refused to be paid $100,000 for it, donating it to the people of Chicago.
In his 80s and 90s, Picasso, no longer quite the energetic dynamo he had been in his youth, struggled with impotency. To a man for whom sex was such an important part of life (and of his public persona), this was a serious life change and Picasso seems to have dealt with it by redoubling his already prolific artistic output.
Picasso's final works were a mixture of styles, his styles and periods changing right until the end of his life. Devoting his full energies to his work, Picasso became more daring, his works more colourful and expressive, and from 1968 through 1971 he produced a torrent of paintings and hundreds of copperplate engravings. At the time these works were dismissed by most as pornographic fantasies of an impotent old man or the slapdash works of an artist who was past his prime. One long time admirer, Douglas Cooper, called them "the incoherent scribblings of a frenetic old man". Only later, after Picasso's death, when the rest of the art world had moved on from abstract expressionism, did the critical community come to see that Picasso had already discovered neo-expressionism and was, as usual, ahead of his time.
Pablo Picasso died on April 8, 1973, and was interred at Castle Vauvenargues' park, in Vauvenargues, Bouches-du-Rhône. Jacqueline Roque prevented his children Claude and Paloma from attending the funeral. His final words were "drink to me". And he died while drinking.
At the time of his death, he had many paintings, as he had kept off the art market what he didn't need to sell. In addition, Picasso had a considerable collection of the work of other famous artists, some his contemporaries, such as Henri Matisse, with whom he had exchanged works. Since Picasso left no will, his death duties (estate tax) to the French state, were paid in the form of his works and others from his collection. These works form the core of the immense and representative collection of the Musée Picasso in Paris. In 2003, relatives of Picasso inaugurated a museum dedicated to him in his birthplace, Málaga, Spain, the Museo Picasso Málaga.
The film Surviving Picasso was made about Picasso in 1996, as seen through the eyes of Françoise Gilot. Anthony Hopkins played Picasso in the movie.
In 1999, Picasso's Les Noces (The Marriage of Pierrette) sold for more than USD $51 million.
Some paintings by Picasso rank among the most expensive paintings in the world. On May 4, 2004 Picasso's painting Garçon à la pipe was sold for USD $104 million at Sotheby's, thus establishing a new price record (see also List of most expensive paintings).