Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish artist born in Malaga on October 25, 1881, died on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, buried in the park of the Château de Vauvenargues, Bouches du Rhône. He is best known for his paintings, and is one of the major artists of the 20th century. He is, with Georges Braque, the founder of the cubist movement. Pablo Picasso (1916) His full name was Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Crispin Crispiniano de la Sentissima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso. Picasso’s father, Don José Ruiz y Blanco, was a painter and drawing teacher at the Malaga school called “San Telmo”. He is also curator of the municipal museum, coming from an old and well-regarded family in the province of Leon, in northwestern Spain, Picasso’s mother, Dona Maria, is originally from Andalusia and has Arab origins.

Picasso thus began painting at an early age and produced his first paintings at the age of eight. In 1896 he entered the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona. Signing first with his father’s name, Ruiz Blanco, he eventually chose to use his mother’s name, Picasso, from 1901.

The blue period corresponds to the years 1901-1903. It takes its name from the fact that blue is the dominant shade of his paintings at this time, which began with the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas which explains why it is marked by the themes of death, old age and of poverty.

From 1904, he moved to Paris, at the Bateau-Lavoir. There he meets his first wife: Fernande Olivier. This is the start of the pink period. As before, it is the use of the dominant pink hues that explains this name. The themes approached remain melancholy and dominated by feelings; there are also many references to the circus world. Picasso privileged during this period the work on the line, the drawing, rather than on the color.

From 1906 to 1914, he and Georges Braque produced paintings that would be called cubists. They are characterized by research into geometry and the shapes represented: all the objects are found divided and reduced into simple geometric shapes, often squares. In effect, this means that an object is not represented as it visibly appears, but by codes corresponding to its known reality. The same character will for example be represented both in profile and in front. Subsequently, the paintings became collages, integrating various kinds of materials (fabric, cardboard…).

Picasso then returned to figurative art for a few years, notably with family portraits. In the 1920s, he moved closer to the surrealist movement. The bodies represented are misshapen, dislocated, monstrous. Following the bombardment of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War in 1937, Picasso produced one of his most famous works, also called Guernica. It symbolizes the horror of war and the anger felt by Picasso at the death of many innocent victims.

Very opposed to war, he painted the famous Dove of Peace. During the war, in April 1940, he applied to the French administration for naturalization. But French citizenship is refused to him, despite decades of residence in France. On the basis, in particular, of a General Information file which describes him as “an anarchist considered as suspect from a national point of view” and as “a so-called modern painter”.

In 1944 he joined the Communist Party. After the end of the Second World War, his paintings became more optimistic, more cheerful, showing, as the title of a painting from 1945 indicates, the Joy of living that he felt then.


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