Biography

b. October 25, 1881 and died April 8, 1973

Pablo Picasso was born October 25, 1881, in Málaga, Spain and died April 8, 1973, in Mougins, France. The  Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, was one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century and  is credited with as the creator (along with Georges Braque) of Cubism.

His power to analyze art demonstrated Picasso’s uncanny artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the twentieth century his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His work is often categorized into periods:

The Blue Period of Picasso is the period between 1900 and 1904, when he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. These somber works inspired by Spain but painted in Paris, were painted in austere colors and sometimes despondent subject matter: prostitutes, beggars and drunks were frequent subjects, thought to be inspired by his friend’s suicide.

The Rose Period signifies the time when the style of Picasso's painting was comprised of cheerful orange and pink colors in contrast to the cool, somber tones of the previous Blue Period. Occurring from 1904 to 1906, Picasso’s relationship with Fernande Olivier is credited with this shift. Harlequins, circus performers, and clowns appear frequently in the Rose Period, and continue to appear in Picasso's paintings at various stages through the rest of his long career.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the European cultural elite were discovering African, Micronesian and Native American art for the first time. Artists such as Gauguin and Matisse along with Picasso were intrigued and inspired by the stark power and simplicity of styles of primitivism and foreign cultures. Entering a new period in his work by 1907, Picasso’s work was marked by the influence of Greek, Iberian and African art. His paintings of 1907 have been characterized as Protocubism, notably seen in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon: the antecedent of Cubism.

Cubism broke the painted surface into small multifaceted areas of paint, thereby emphasizing the plural viewpoint given by binocular vision, emphasizing the simplification of natural forms into cylinders, spheres, and cones. This concept progressed into a representation of all surfaces depicted in a single pictorial plane.

Analytical Cubism is one of the two major branches of the artistic movement of Cubism and was developed between 1908 and 1912. During his Analytic period Picasso "analyzed" natural forms and reduced the forms into basic geometric parts on the two-dimensional picture plane. He favored monochromatic palettes.

Synthetic Cubism was developed others between 1912 and 1919. Synthetic cubism is characterized by the introduction of different textures, surfaces, collage elements, papier collé and a large variety of merged subject matter. It was the beginning of collage materials being introduced as an important ingredient of fine art work. 

Considered the first work of this new style was Pablo Picasso's "Still Life with Chair-caning" (1911–1912), which includes oil cloth that was printed to look like chair-caning pasted onto an oval canvas, with text; and rope framing the whole picture. At the upper left are the letters "JOU", which appear in many cubist paintings and refers to the newspaper titled "Le Journal". 

Whereas analytic cubism was an analysis of the subjects (pulling them apart into planes), synthetic cubism is more of a pushing of several objects together. Picasso, through this movement, was the first to use text in his artwork (to flatten the space), and the use of mixed media—including more than one type of medium in the same piece. Less pure than analytic cubism, synthetic cubism has fewer planar shifts, less schematism, and less shading, creating flatter space.

During the late 1930’s Picasso’s style changes yet again, utilizing elements of classicism and surrealism into his work. In 1937 he created what may be his most famous piece Guernica, depicting the bombing of the city during the Spanish Civil war. The painting projected the inhumanity, brutality, and angst of war. Although considered part of the Entarte Kunst, Picasso’s fame shielded him from the Gestapo raids and concentrations camps so many of his fellow artists endured.

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. At the time these works were dismissed as the works of a senile, aging man. Today they are understood as neo-expressionist precursors, the culmination of an exceptionally prolific artist.