Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Biography

Pablo Picasso was an artistic genius and no doubt one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. Picasso experimented throughout his life and was continued to innovate into his later years. His impact on Western twentieth century art is immeasurable.

Born in 1881 in Spain, the son of an art teacher, Picasso permanently moved to Paris from Barcelona in 1904. He did not however entirely leave behind his Catalan roots and the influences of his early years are visible in his art throughout his career.

His first paintings were exhibited when he was just 12 years old but it was not until the early 1900s that he received serious attention from the French press and the art world. The so-called ‘Blue Period’ (1903-04) reflected a sombre view of life full of the greys and blues of a young aspiring, and still poor, artist. The subjects seem desolate and inconsolable in these pictures that yearn for your attention. 1905-06 however saw a lightening of Picasso’s mood and the ‘Rose Period’ contained images of circus performers, jesters, acrobats, and perhaps most famously the harlequin.

Perhaps Picasso’s most important contribution to the history of art came through his collaboration with Georges Braque from 1906 that marks the beginnings of Cubism.  Cubist paintings, drawings and sculpture focus less on a romantic notion of expression than on an investigation of the structure of a painting or its formal properties. Picasso painted objects from many different angles but on a flat surface that superimposed one view onto another.  The result a patchwork of images making up the components of an object or face forming an expressionist depiction of the subject. Cubism was a revolutionary artistic movement.

During the tumultuous war years Picasso remained in Paris marrying Olga Koklova, a Russian dancer, in 1918. Picasso’s work changed and he became more involved with theatrical productions.

The impact of Cubism remained in Picasso’s artwork until his death in 1973 and he also experimented with different techniques such as printmaking in his work. Picasso’s print work was innovative and extensive, from linocuts to etchings, aquatints to carborundum. 

Another great influence on his art were the relationships he had during his lifetime, which were many and varied. From the 1930's until his death in 1973, the successive periods in his art can be identified by the names of his love interests: Marie-Therese, Dora Maar, Francoise Gilot, and his second wife Jacqueline, all of whom appear again and again in his work as models.

Picasso – 347 Series

Produced in a torrent at the age of eighty-seven, Suite 347 was Picasso’s penultimate series of prints made in collaboration with the master printers Aldo and Piero Crommelynck at their studio at Mougins, in the South of France.  Completed between 16 March and 5 October 1968, the series was originally created as the illustrations for Fernando de Roja’s 1499 novel La Celestine depicting the life of an ageing procuress.  The subject matter, however, is more of human encounters, described by Picasso himself as ‘theatrum mundi’ and was influenced by his own life, his art, and the art of other masters such as Rembrandt, Degas, Velazques, and Goya.   The result is a series of delicately drawn erotic encounters that are both touching in their humanity and sensual in their depiction. 

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