Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish artist who spent most of his life in France. Picasso is commonly regarded as one of the artists who most defined the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century. During the first decade of the 20th century, his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas.

Born in the city of Málaga, his father was a painter, a professor of art at the School of Crafts and a curator of a local museum. From the age of 7, Picasso received formal artistic training from his father. At the age of 16, he was then sent to the Academy in Madrid.

Picasso made his first trip to Paris in 1900, then the art capital of Europe. These were times of severe poverty, cold, and desperation. Picasso’s Blue Period (1901–1904) consists of somber paintings rendered in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. Picasso was influenced by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas.

The Rose Period (1904–1906) is characterized by a more cheery style with orange and pink colors, and featuring many circus people, acrobats and harlequins known in France as saltimbanques. By 1905, Picasso became a favorite of the American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein. Gertrude Stein became Picasso's principal patron, acquiring his drawings and paintings and exhibiting them. Prolific, Picasso usually painted from imagination or memory, and worked in many different styles throughout his career.

Picasso’s African-influenced Period (1907–1909) can be seen with Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which were inspired by African artifacts. Formal ideas developed during this period lead directly into the Cubist period that follows. Analytic cubism (1909–1912) is a style of painting Picasso developed along with Georges Braque using monochrome brownish and neutral colors. Both artists took apart objects and "analyzed" them in terms of their shapes. Synthetic cubism (1912–1919) was a further development of the genre, in which cut paper fragments were pasted into compositions, marking the first use of collage in fine art.

In the period following the upheaval of World War I, Picasso produced work in a neoclassical style. This "return to order" is evident in the work of many European artists in the 1920s, Picasso’s paintings and drawings from this period frequently recall the work of Raphael and Ingres. Arguably Picasso's most famous work is his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica.

During the Second World War, Picasso remained in Paris while the Germans occupied the city. Picasso’s artistic style did not fit the Nazi ideal of art, so he did not exhibit during this time. Retreating to his studio, he continued to paint. In the 50's Picasso’s style changed once again, as he took to producing reinterpretations of the art of the great masters : Velazquez’s painting of Las Menina but also Goya, Poussin, Manet, Courbet and Delacroix.

Picasso’s final works were a mixture of styles, his means of expression in constant flux until the end of his life. Devoting his full energies to his work, Picasso became more daring, his works more colorful and expressive, and from 1968 through 1971 he produced a torrent of paintings and hundreds of copperplate etchings.

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