Pablo Picasso’s life began in Spain. His father Jose Ruiz Blasco was an artist and an art teacher. By the age of 9, Picasso had become an excellent artist with the help of his father. When Picasso’s family moved around Spain quite a bit during his childhood because of the way his father’s job changed location. By 1891 they had moved to La Caruña where he took his father’s classes at the Escuela de Belles Artes. In 1895 they moved again to Barcelona where Picasso began to grow independently as an artist. By 1900, Picasso exhibited 150 pieces of his art at the Els Quatre Gats. After his exhibition at Els Quatre Gats, Picasso was invited to the Exposition Universelle in Paris, France for his painting, Last Moments. It was around this time that Picasso wavered between living in Paris and Spain (The Art Dictionary; McQuillion).
Eventually, Picasso began living in Paris and a period known as the “Blue Period” of his art began. This ranged from around 1902 to 1904. Around this time, the focus of his art was on outcasts, beggars and dark colors, setting the feeling of death. This depressing change in his art was mostly sparked because of the drama in Picasso’s life. At the beginning of this period, Picasso’s friend, Casagena committed suicide. Picasso fell into depression after this, and the feeling of the artist would affect his work. Picasso described his Blue Period art as, “small and dark, intense and energetic… a sense of humor and mischief that was black and sardonic, nonetheless childish; a sense of braggadocio that moved all manner of fears” (Richardson 210). Some of Picasso’s famous pieces of art in this period are Child with a Dove, The Blue Nude, and The Old Guitarist. By the time this period came to an end, Picasso chose to remain in Paris.
As the Blue Period began coming to an end, a new era of Picasso’s artwork began, known as the Rose Period. Love in his life pulled him out of the dark depression of the Blue Period. The color in his work brightened. Pink and flesh-like colors were common, and portraits of clowns and harlequins were common. Many thought that these figures were ways for Picasso to portray people in his life at the time. For instance, he incorporated his romances into the art. One of the most important relationships at this point was with Fernande Olivier. It was also common in these paintings about his relationships to find an encoded message of some sort to the person related to the image.
A few years after Rose Period, Picasso and another artist named Braque developed the style of art called cubism around 1909. Critics misunderstood it at first, thinking that it was just a way of creating different geometric patterns. However, it actually showed multiple angles of an object on the same drawing to show more of the subject. It was able to break down objects, space, light, shadows, and color. Cubism had abstract elements to the style, which led to rethinking what two-dimensional elements signified (Biography.com; McCully). Some famous examples his cubism are Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Landscape with Bridge, etc.
Picasso did some other works during and after his cubism era as well. For instance, he began taking interest in synthetic art around 1912. During this time, there was a reintroduction to color in his work. He also tied in the element of play into the art, such as how he suggested one item could actually be another. One of these is how a guitar curve could be an ear curve. There was also illusions in this type of art, since it was in a way putting three dimensional onto a two dimensional type of surface (McCully). Besides fine art, Picasso was also involved in the performing arts. He took part in putting together the play Parade in 1916. He incorporated ideas and inventions that came up in the 20th century into it, and once the play came into place, it was very popular. Parade was eventually performed in Rome, where Picasso met a dancer named Olga Kokholva. They fell in love, and the new romance sparked new ideas into Picasso’s art.
Picasso’s relationships with women were incredibly important to his work. Each relationship he had impacted is artwork. After meeting Olga Kokholva, the dancer from Parade, they got married in July 1918. However, there was a pattern found in each of his relationships that copied onto his marriage. Picasso would have affairs quite often, and ignored Olga’s frustration with him. He was also overprotective of his wife sometimes, often locking her up in the house if he had to leave. Olga also injured her leg, and Picasso felt guilty for things he did sometimes, but later fooled himself by saying, “Women’s illnesses are women’s fault.” (Richardson 95). These problems Picasso had ended up shifting the style of his art from bright to very dark.
As his life continued, Picasso’s art got involved with events occurring at certain times with the world. Picasso began doing surrealism around 1927 when the Surrealism Movement was happening. Though there was little involvement, new dimensions were gained and subjects and themes became erotic and disturbing. The feel of metamorphosis was also commonly found. A few years later, World War II came about, and Picasso created one of his boldest political pieces of art Guernica. In 1937, Nazi bombers destroyed Guernica, in his home country of Spain. Around 1600 innocent citizens died in the bombing, and this horrified Picasso. His painting, Guernica was a depiction of the even that caused a lot of anti-fascism and changed many people’s political views through the depiction of the event.
From Guernica and on, Picasso’s triumph years were coming to an end in later years, but even so, he never stopped working. Despite is decline in popularity, some of his last pieces in his life were considered the most moving; it was his honest work at heart. His final paintings included his final self-portrait, which is a little different from the other pieces and self-portraits that Picasso did. He worked all of his life up until his death on April 10, 1973. Until the end, with every era and piece he contributed to the world of art, he was able to shape what people think of modern art to this day. Being a rebel as an artist, Picasso had moved on a different path from other artists. Even Picasso himself claimed he was a rebel in Chris Nineham’s article when Picasso states, “A painter is always at war with the world. Either he wants to crush it or conquer it, change it or celebrate it” (Socialist Review). He shifted from one distinct style to the next with ease, bringing new ideas to the world all the time. With techniques such as color themes and cubism, aspects of art changed. New dimensions in modern art came about, and artists such as Altdorfer, Manet, Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Courbet constantly referenced Picasso’s cubism in their works. Not only did Picasso’s styles change aspects of modern art, but some specific pieces he made became very important to politics and caused controversies. His piece, Guernica was a huge importance to political views once people saw it. It made people see the horrible pain warfare brought to the town of Guernica. During World War II, there was a lot of fascism and dictatorship. This painting wasn’t exactly straight out political propaganda, but at the same time, it changed people’s views of the war. It depicted anti-war symbolism, and eventually got people to assist Spain after the bombing as stated in Scott John’s article: “...an American an American tour was organized with the support of Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Theodore Dreiser, and other notable American writers, which raised money for Republican forces and helped refugees from the war. At the Washington, D.C., stop of the tour, 100 people paid $5 to attend a gala fundraiser with Eleanor Roosevelt and Simon Guggenheim, and 2,000 people paid a fifty-cent donation to Spanish refugees during the three-week exhibit”. (ISR Issue 52) Due to Picasso’s single painting, there was a lot of support similar to this for Spain after the Nazi attack.
Pablo Picasso was a prodigy of modern art in the 20th century. He practiced the fine arts from the time he was a child all the way until his death. The places he lived, the people he met, the bonds he had, and the events that played throughout his life impacted his artwork and styles. As his techniques and creativity shifted through time, he was acknowledged for his brilliant ideas and inspired many artists to take on his types of art, and to build off onto their own styles. With the influence of Picasso, political and moral values shifted when people laid their eyes on his art. Modern art would be incredibly different without Picasso’s contribution. Because of him, the fine arts of today have branched off to create so much more in the world, but nobody forgets where one of its most important roots come from; Pablo Picasso.