Pablo Picasso was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. He experimented in many different styles and changed the world of art during his time.
Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. His father was a drawing teacher. At 10 Pablo became his father’s pupil and at the age of 13 he held his first exhibition.
His family moved to Barcelona in 1895 where Pablo joined an art academy. In his early period the young artist painted life as he observed it around him – in cafes and on the streets. As a young man he took interest in masterpieces of famous artists like El Greco and de Goya.
At the turn of the century, Picasso went to Paris, which was, at that time, the centre of art and literature.
Blue and Rose period
In 1901 a close friend of Picasso shot himself. This had a great impact on Pablo. He was very sad and began painting his pictures in grey and blue tones instead of bright, vivid colours.
This part of his career is called his Blue Period.
Later on, he changed his painting style and started using more earth colours – rose, pink or brown. He liked to paint pictures of circus life with dancers and acrobats. This rose period lasted until 1907.
When Picasso started working with his friend and fellow painter Georges Braque in Paris they started experimenting with a new style that was called cubism.
Picasso and Braque didn’t want to show nature as it really was. They thought that all objects in nature had geometric forms. In cubism, objects were cut into many flat shapes, which looked like a puzzle. All the sides of a person’s face, for example, were shown at once, maybe even with three eyes instead of two. Cubist painters wanted to show all parts of an object from one angle.
Picasso and Braque also experimented with other materials, like cloth and newspaper clippings, which they glued onto the canvas. This technique became later known as collage.
In 1917 Picasso went to Rome to design costumes and scenery for a Russian ballet company. During this period he fell back to classical forms and painting techniques but never gave up experimenting with cubism.
In 1936 Civil War broke out in Spain. During this period he painted his masterpiece Guernica. It shows the terrified
people of the ancient Spanish town which was bombed during the Civil War. Picasso was shocked by this inhuman act and in his painting he shows people running in the streets and screaming with their mouths wide open. To display his sadness and anger he used only black and white as well as shades of grey.
During World War II Picasso lived in Paris which, at that time, was under Nazi occupation. The Nazis didn’t like his modern paintings and Picasso had to hide them in a secret vault in the Bank of France.
After the war Picasso moved to a big house in the southern part of France. There, he continued experimenting with paintings and sculptures.
He continued his work up to his death in 1973. Picasso was known as a very moody person and he also displayed this in his paintings. Sometimes he was thoughtful, even sad, and at other times he could be very humorous. Picasso was never satisfied with his own work and he never stopped experimenting. For his great imagination and skill he is called “El Maestro” of modern art.