Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, in Andalusia, on the southern coast of Spain. He had a great impact on twentieth century art and influenced many artists. The son of talented painter José Ruiz Blanco, he began to draw at an early age. In 1895, the family moved to Barcelona, and Picasso studied there at La Lonja, the academy of fine arts. His visit to Horta de Ebro from 1898 to 1899 and his association with the group at the café Els Quatre Gats in 1899 were crucial to his early artistic development.
In 1900, Picasso’s first exhibition took place in Barcelona, and that fall he went to Paris for the first of several stays during the early years of the century. Picasso settled in Paris in April 1904, and soon his circle of friends included Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Gertrude and Leo Stein, as well as two dealers, Ambroise Vollard and Berthe Weill.
Shortly after moving to Paris from Barcelona, Picasso began to produce works that were very blue, in color and look. The trigger for these depressing paintings was the suicide of Picasso’s friend Casagemas. The Blue Period work is quite sentimental. At that time Picasso was still in his late teens, away from home for the first time, and living in very poor conditions.
In 1905-1906, Picasso’s palette began to lighten considerably, bringing in a beige or “rose” tone. The actual paintings also became less depressing. At this time we saw the first a ppearances of the circus performers and clowns that will populate Picasso’s paintings at various stages through the rest of his artistic career.
In late 1906, Picasso started to paint in a truly revolutionary manner. Inspired by Cézanne’s flattened depiction of space, and working with his friend Georges Braque, he began to express space in strongly geometrical terms. These efforts for developing this almost sculptural sense of space in painting are the beginnings of Cubism.
Picasso’s collaboration on ballet and theatrical productions began in 1916, when he was 35. In the 1920s, the artist and his wife, Olga (whom he had married in 1918), continued to live in Paris, to travel frequently, and to spend their summers at the beach. From 1925 into the 1930s, Picasso was a little bit involved with the Surrealists, and from the fall of 1931 he was especially interested in making sculpture.
By 1936, the Civil War in Spain had greatly affected Picasso, which showed in his painting Guernica (1937, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid). Picasso’s association with the Communist Party began in 1944. From the late 1940s, he lived in southern France. In 1961, the artist married Jacqueline Roque, and they moved to Mougins. There Picasso continued his prolific work in painting, drawing, prints, ceramics, and sculpture until his death April 8, 1973.
Picasso. New York. 1992.
World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago. 1997.