Pablo PicassoPicasso, Pablo Ruiz y (1881-1973), Spanish painter and sculptor, is considered one of the greatest artist of the 20th century. He was a inventor of forms, innovator of styles and techniques, a master of various media, and one of the most prolific artists in history. He created more than 20,000 works.
Training and Early Work Picasso was Born in M?laga on October 25, 1881, he was the son of Jos? Ruiz Blasco, an art teacher, and Mar?a Picasso y Lopez. Until 1898 he always used his father’s name, Ruiz, and his mother’s maiden name, Picasso, to sign his pictures. After about 1901 he dropped ?Ruiz? and used his mother’s maiden name to sign his pictures. At the age of 10 he made his first paintings, and at 15 he performed brilliantly on the entrance examinations to Barcelona’s School of Fine Arts. His large academic canvas Science and Charity (1897, Picasso Museum, Barcelona), depicting a doctor, a nun, and a child at a sick woman’s bedside, won a gold medal.
Blue Period Between 1900 and 1902, Picasso made three trips to Paris, finally settling there in 1904. He found the city’s bohemian street life fascinating, and his pictures of people in dance halls and caf?s show how he learned the postimpressionism of the French painter Paul Gauguin and the symbolist painters called the Nabis. The themes of the French painters Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as the style of the latter, exerted the strongest influence. Picasso’s Blue Room (1901, Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.) reflects the work of both these painters and, at the same time, shows his evolution toward the Blue Period, so called because various shades of blue dominated his work for the next few years. Expressing human misery, the paintings portray blind figures, beggars, alcoholics, and prostitutes, their somewhat elongated bodies reminiscent of works by the Spanish artist El Greco.
Rose Period Shortly after settling in Paris in a shabby building known as the Bateau-Lavoir (?laundry barge,? which it resembled), Picasso met Fernande Olivier, the first of many companions to influence the theme, style, and mood of his work. With this happy relationship, Picasso changed his palette to pinks and reds; the years 1904 and 1905 are thus called the Rose Period. Many of his subjects were drawn from the circus, which he visited several times a week; one such painting is Family of Saltimbanques (1905, National Gallery, Washington, D.C.). In the figure of the harlequin, Picasso represented his alter ego, a practice he repeated in later works as well. Dating from his first decade in Paris are friendships with the poet Max Jacob, the writer Guillaume Apollinaire, the art dealers Ambroise Vollard and Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, and the American expatriate writers Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo, who were his first important patrons; Picasso did portraits of them all.
Protocubism In the summer of 1906, during Picasso’s stay in G?sol, Spain, his work entered a new phase, marked by the influence of Greek, Iberian, and African art. His celebrated portrait of Gertrude Stein (1905-1906, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City) reveals a masklike treatment of her face. The key work of this early period, however, is Les demoiselles d’Avignon (1907, Museum of Modern Art, New York City), so radical in style?its picture surface resembling fractured glass?that it was not even understood by contemporary avant-garde painters and critics. Destroyed were spatial depth and the ideal form of the female nude, which Picasso restructured into harsh, angular planes.
Cubism?Analytic and Synthetic Inspired by the volumetric treatment of form by the French postimpressionist artist Paul C?zanne, Picasso and the French artist Georges Braque painted landscapes in 1908 in a style later described by a critic as being made of ?little cubes,? thus leading to the term cubism. Some of their paintings are so similar that it is difficult to tell them apart. Working together between 1908 and 1911, they were concerned with breaking down and analyzing form, and together they developed the first phase of cubism, known as analytic cubism. Monochromatic color schemes were favored in their depictions of radically fragmented motifs, whose several sides were shown simultaneously. Picasso’s favorite subjects were musical instruments, still-life objects, and his friends; one famous