Artist biographies

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) received lessons from his father, a drawing teacher, at an early age. At the age of twelve he went to the Lonja, an art school, in Barcelona and later (1897) attended the Academia Real in Madrid. In 1900 Picasso travelled to Paris for the first time. There he discovered new ways to use colour, especially in the work of Van Gogh and Gauguin. After the suicide of a close friend, Casagenas, in 1901, muted blue became the dominant colour in Picasso’s paintings until 1904 (Blue Period) when he switched to a warmer palette made up of pink tints (Rose Period, 1904-6). In the summer of 1906 Picasso stayed in the remote village of Gosol in northern Spain where he took his first steps on the road to Cubism. Inspired by Cézanne and African sculptures, he experimented with geometric forms. At the end of 1906 Picasso commenced a large painting that would later become known as Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a depiction of prositutes with deformed bodies and mask-like faces. He spent the summer of 1909 in Horta de Sant Joan, Catalonia. In subsequent years Picasso and Georges Braque developed Cubism, abandoning normal perspective and representing objects from different angles simultaneously. In 1912 they produced their first collages, incorporating newspaper cuttings and other materials in their paintings. In 1917 he visited Italy and worked with Serge Diaghilev on the ballet Parade.

From about 1917 to the mid 1920s Picasso’s work became more traditional as he returned to figurative art, in a period dubbed ‘Neo-Classicist’. His work then began to feature bizarre, deformed and sometimes aggressive creatures, betraying the influence of Surrealism.

In 1937 Picasso produced his famous painting Guernica, an indictment of the horrors of war. After the Second World War and until the end of his life the artist remained unrelentingly productive and innovative. His work in this period includes variations on paintings by Old Masters, sculptures in a range of materials and ceramics, a new field for the artist. Picasso was also politically active: he attended peace conferences and was a member of the Communist Party from 1944 until his death. After the Second World War Picasso lived in the south of France, from 1961 near Mougins.

Picasso at work, Keystone, Getty Images.jpg

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