Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker and womanizer. Together with Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp he revolutionized art in the early 20th century.
Picasso descended from a middle class family in Malaga. His father was a painter specialized in naturalistic depiction of birds and other game, professor at an art school and curator of local museum. He started his son’s formal artistic training at age seven. At age 13 Picasso entered the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, at 16 he set off to Madrid where he enrolled in the Royal Academy of San Fernando. Yet, he disliked formal instruction and quitted attending classes shortly after enrollment.
He moved to Paris, but his career started in utter poverty. Things changed when he became one of the favorites of the famous American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein and their older brother Michael and his wife Sarah. The informal Salon of Gertrude Stein became legendary and it was where Picasso met Matisse – life-long friend and rival. The Stein’s introduced Picasso to other art collectors. He became one of the first clients of Kahnweiler, who set out to become the premier French art dealer of the 20th century. From then on he worked to become one of the best known artists of the 20th century worldwide with a wide and illustrious circle of friends.
His art work is generally categorized in periods though some of their names are disputed:
- before 1901,
- Blue Period (somber, in shades of blue or blue-green with just occasional use of another color, gaunt mothers with children, prostitutes, beggars, blindness, poverty, death),
- Rose Period (circus people, more cheery, oranges and reds, upbeat and optimistic),
- African-Influenced Period (inspired by African artifacts, development of formal ideas that led to Cubism),
- Cubism (analysis of objects in terms of their spaces, done in monochromatic, mostly brownish or neutral shades, addition of cut paper fragments),
- Classicism & Surrealism (return to order after WWI, recall of works of Raphael and Ingres, Guernica),
- later works (reinterpretation of art of great artists, sculptures, mixture of styles, expression in constant flux, more daring, more colorful and expressive, neo-expressionism before its time)