Life And Works Of Pablo Picasso

The Dream Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso was one of the most popular painters in the world. He painted many stunning portraits in many different styles. His life, spanning from 1881 to 1973, has been studied and appreciated by many contemporary artists. This Spanish painter and sculptor took the art world by storm in the 20th century. Here is more about his life and work.

Early Life

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in October 25th, 1881. He was the first child of Don Jose Ruiz Blasco and Maria Picasso Lopez. He grew up in a middle-class family. His father was a professor of art and a naturalistic painter.

As a young boy, Picasso displayed a lot of interest in drawing. According to his mother, his first words were ‘piz, piz’, which is a short form of lapiz, a Spanish word meaning pencil. From an early age of 7, he started receiving formal training from his father. With time he learned oil and figure painting. He was also taught how to draw the human body from casts made of plaster and other live models.

In 1981, his father moved to Coruna to join the School of Fine Arts. This decision had a negative impact on the family as they even starved. After the death of his seven-year old sister in the year 1895, the family moved to Barcelona. At 16 years, Picasso joined the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Madrid. However, Pablo didn’t like the didactic nature of the institution. He skipped classes and started spending his days admiring the works of El Greco, Velazquez, Zurbaran and Goya.

In 1900, Pablo Picasso moved to Paris. He stayed with Max Jacob, who taught him French and French literature.

The Art

Boy with Dog by Picasso (Laos 1989)Despite poverty, Picasso worked at night and slept during the day. His first issue got published on 31st March 1901. By this time, he had started signing his works as ‘Picasso’.

1.The Blue Period (1901-1904)

During this time, all his paintings were dominated by the color blue. His paintings were greatly influenced by the death of his close friend, Carlos Casagemas. During these years, Picasso was deeply depressed and lonely. This inspired him to paint scenes of poverty and isolation, all shades of blue and green. The subjects of the paintings were beggars and prostitutes.

His most famous paintings during this time include the ‘Blue Nude’, ‘La Vie’, ‘The Blindman’s Meal’, ‘Celestina’, and ‘The Old Guitarist’. An Etching called the ‘Frugal Repast’ also reflected his somber mood of the time. Destitution and blindness were an integral part of this painting. It was during this time that he started using the image of a harlequin, in checkered clothing, as his personal motif in his paintings.

2.The Rose Period (1904-1906)

During this time, his paintings become cheerful with the use of pink and orange colors. His work started to regain its romantic quality, as he slowly moved on from the sad Blue Period. He started to explore ways of combing expressionism with classicism. The change of his style was influenced by his relationship with Fernande Olivier, whom he met in 1904.

His most famous paintings during this time include ‘Gertrude Stein’, ‘Family at Saltimbanques’, and the ‘Two Nudes’.

3.African Period (1907-1909)

Postage stamp France 1975 Paul as Harlequin, Pablo PicassoThis is called the African-Influenced period where Pocasso’s paintings were inspired by African artifacts. Around this time, French empire was expanding into Africa and African artifacts were being brought back to Paris museums. This exposed Picasso to a unique form of art. His paintings, typified by simplified, angular forms, were rendered in a muted palette or browns and reds. They explored emotional and physiological areas not seen in western art.

His most remarkable achievement of period is the painting of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. This painting came in the year 1907 and is arguably the most influential painting of the twentieth century.

4.Cubism (1909-1912)

This period is known as Pablo Picasso’s Analytic Cubism period. His style of painting was developed along with Gorges Braque, and was characterized by the use of monochrome brown colors. During this time, Picasso took the objects apart and analyzed them within the medium of his paintings. He later started using collage in his art. He would add paper fragments of newspaper pages or wallpaper and paste them into his work. This resulted in what came to be known as Synthetic Cubism.


During the 1930s, he returned to a more neo-classical style of painting. He used Minotaur as his motif instead of the harlequin in his paintings. In the year 1937, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, 28 bombers from Nazi Germany bombed Guernica, a village in northern Pain. Inspired by this bombing, Picasso started working on the painting ‘Guernica’, which was displayed around the world. The painting gained wide acclaim and brought the Spanish Civil War in the international spotlight.

6.Later Works

In 1950s, Picasso started reinterpreting the works of great masters such as Manet, Goya and Velazquez. In 1967, the Chicago Picasso was unveiled. Between 1968 and 1971, he produced several other paintings.

Other well-known artworks he produced include; Don Quixote, Boy leading a horse, Family of Saltimbanques, Dora Maar au Chat, The Old Guitarist, La lecture, Nude in a Black Armchair and The Weeping Woman.

Pablo Picasso died in 8th April 1973, in France.

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