Biography of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Pablo Ruiz Picasso.

Spanish painter - whose full name was Pablo Ruiz Picasso - Malaga-born on October 25, 1881 and died April 8, 1973 in Mougin (Alpes Maritimes, France). Picasso alone embodies all the adventure of the painting of the 20th century. Uninterrupted production, its constant renovation eagerness, his restless spirit of constant experimenter of the problems of the system of representation, its attitude to history and its sense iconoclastic with regard to tradition, as well as their ratings, always surprising and original, the models of the past, make Picasso a paradigm of 20th century painting.

The trajectory of Picasso not can pigeonhole in a linear evolution or participation in any trends. art of its time. Not be confining it to the painting, although this is its main activity, as drawings, engravings, ceramics and sculptures occupy a prominent place in the art of our century. Trends of which was the protagonist, like Cubism, were created by him. But the most surprising of his career lies in the fact that in the constant ups and downs of his painting always lies latent essentially Picasso imprint characterized by diversity in the framework of a rigorous unit.

The first years of the life of Picasso silliest through a few channels that nothing made sense what would later be their orientation. Born in Malaga in 1881, his father, José Ruiz Blasco, who was Professor of drawing, taught him to paint. In 1891 the family moved to La Coruña, where the young Picasso began to paint. Four years later, since his father took possession of the Chair of the school of fine arts (La Lonja), Picasso moved with his family to Barcelona, at the school of fine arts.

In Barcelona, Picasso frequented cabaret Els 4 gats and environment made friends with painters such as Nonell and Sunyer, the sculptor Manolo Hugué, Eugenio D'Ors, Sabartés and Miguel Utrillo. But in addition to these contacts, of which Picasso receive especially the Magisterium Nonell, was his first trip to Paris (1900) what exerted a deep influence on his training. In 1901, after a brief stay in Málaga, Picasso is situated in Madrid, where he/she published a magazine of ephemeral duration, young art. That same year, Picasso made his second trip to Paris, and after a brief stay in Barcelona in 1903 decided to settle permanently in the French capital the following year.

In his early works, such as first communion, science and charity, which performed with fifteen and sixteen years, Picasso is shown as an early painter who dominates academic springs a naturalism full of literary connotations that will soon leave for a more free and abocetada painting. Works such as the Moulin de La Galette (New York. Guggenheim Museum), 1900, reveal the impact that produced the work of Toulouse-Lautrec in the young painter. Picasso at this time was attracted especially by the color, as in ladie (Madrid. Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) or the dwarf (Barcelona. Picasso Museum), both from 1901, a color applied in strokes loose in the manner of the postimpressionists.

Picasso, at this early stage, agreed to modernity through the assessment and autonomy of color. However shortly afterwards, when in his blue series you start a much more personal renewal path, while maintaining the autonomy of the color, it will integrate the rigor of the drawing as a basis of paint that won't ever leave. The portrait of Jaime Sabartés (Moscow, Pushkin Museum), 1901, already shows the attention of Picasso by the values of the shape and the drawing. These years Picasso paintings, known as blue period, involve a theme focusing on the figure and the chromatic predominance of blue. They are impregnated with a certain melancholy and a classical stylish, present in works such as maternity (Cambridge Mass. Fogg Art Museum), 1901, curled woman (Stockholm. Collection Nathhorst), 1902, life (Cleveland. Museum of Art), 1903, or mother with a sick child (Barcelona. Picasso Museum), of the same year. A painting renovation, based on the prominence of the balanced color with an accurate drawing, which expresses a pessimistic and melancholic feeling of existence.

Picasso paintings made between 1904 and 1906, period of its life known as the rose period, keep these two components of primacy of color and drawing value. Now well: not only were the replacement of the predominance of the range of the blue color for another pink. The novelty of the color is justified by the change of the theme of the painting. A new classicism and a new theme, focusing especially on the topics of circus, are developments of this time Picasso painting. Watercolors family of acrobats (Baltimore. Museum of art) and seated Harlequin (Paris. Private collection), 1905, reveal this orientation, through the value of drawing and a trend toward classical models, far more visible in works like the woman's shirt (London. Tate Gallery) and young with the raised arm (Washington. National Gallery), 1905.

The art of these years Picasso also shows his interest in painter in black and Iberian art. Some drawings from 1905 reveal how black sculpture has influenced him deeply. The portrait of Gertrude Stein (New York. Metropolitan Museum) and the self-portrait with palette (Philadelphia. Museum of Art), both from 1906 show a reduction of the use of color, a simplification of forms and volumes and the aforementioned influence of Iberian art. Picasso sculpture black interest is also apparent in works such as (Switzerland, Col. Particular), subtending nude women in 1906. The rupture with the melancholy and emotional compositions of her paintings from the blue and rose periods had a starting point in the decision of Picasso interpreting the art of primitive cultures beginning to appreciate at the time. Picasso, during these years, met directly black sculpture in the Museum of the Trocadero, being interested in the Ivory Coast or New Caledonia works and collecting some parts of Iberian art. Roland Penrose says how Picasso was frequently at the Louvre ".. .to was intrigued by the art of the Egyptians and Phoenicians, which at that time was generally considered as barbaro." Gothic sculptures of the Museum of Cluny demanded careful scrutiny, and he/she repaired in more distant way in the charm of Japanese prints that had been fashionable a few years, and consequently less interested. Picasso had more satisfaction discovering things that others still not had repaired".

With the valuation of these marginal arts to Western culture, Picasso abandoned the path of moderate modernity and oriented toward approaches of a radical art, of which he/she is the creator of his first masterpiece: Les demoiselles de Avignon (Avinyó).

Picasso was one of the few contemporary artists who have undertaken as a priority concern, the realization of masterpieces. While for most of the artists this category not exceeded the condition of conception of the art of the past, was an inescapable obligation to Picasso. On two occasions his experiences were oriented works which became essential references of contemporary painting. The demoiselles of Avignon (Avinyó) (New York. Museum of Modern Art) was the first one in which Picasso raised a rupture, conscious and coherent, with the system of representation perspective that had been operating since the Renaissance as a support and irreplaceable method of Western painting. The second work, to which will be later reference, is Guernica (Madrid. Art Centre Reina Sofia), in which Picasso undertakes a work of endeavour in which all a reflection on the roles, values and uses of classical models was established. Known documentation and case studies dedicated to these two paintings make them an exceptional case not only of the art of our time, but of the entire history of painting.

Ladies of Avignon (oil on canvas, 1907). Museum of modern art in New York (United States).

Picasso painted the Demoiselles between 1906 and 1907. When he/she showed them to friends and other artists, some not hid their rejection and displeasure. But the truth is that in this work Picasso established the run-up that serve as a foundation for Cubism. They wanted to find precedents and sources in which Picasso was inspired, as it is the case of Ingres, and El Greco, in the form of composing and grouped figures and develop the sky in the background. However, what Picasso brought in this painting was a break with the traditional classical models. For the figure on the left was inspired by an Egyptian sculpture, while for the heads of the two central figures, it is clear that Picasso had considered models of Iberian sculpture. On the other hand, the two heads of the figures on the right, that Picasso changed during the execution of the picture, reveal a decided interest in black sculpture. Which proves that Picasso not breaking with history, but with the classical models of history, manipulated and adulterated by the academic. The interest of Picasso sculpture black also manifested itself in various works made by these years, naked with a towel (Paris. Col. Particular 1907 or woman with a fan in an armchair (Leningrad. Ermitage), the following year, in which Picasso continues with the experience initiated shortly before in Les Demoiselles.

However, the contribution most important Picasso at Les Demoiselles was his attitude with the traditional system of representation perspective. Western painting since the Renaissance was based on the concept of the picture as a window from which a three-dimensional scene captured from a unique and static point is represented: the eye of the painter. In Les Demoiselles, Picasso distorts the monofocal representation and introduces the simultaneity of the vision. Picasso undertook the representation from a plurifocal concept that releases to the picture of the limitations of traditional representation and provides a radical autonomy of shape to paint.

In the company of Georges Braque (1882-1963), Picasso undertook a rediscovery of the work of Cézanne (1839-1906), called to have an unexpected significance for the further development of cubism. Cezanne painting took its concern for simplification of the volumes, the color reduction and recovery of the primacy of the form. In October 1907, the correspondence between Emile Bernard and Cézanne, in which it expressed his desire to "treat nature as the cone, cylinder, and sphere" was published in the Mercure de France. Picasso and Braque took up these principles of painting by Cezanne, who had just died in 1906, and took them to their ultimate consequences. The form, order and geometry arose as a new foundation for the paint against the plastic and formal fragmentation initiated by impressionism.

In the summer of 1909, during their stay at Horta de Ebro, Picasso undertook a real landscape architecture. Landscape of Horta de Ebro (Paris. Private collection), or factory (Leningrad. Ermitage) developed crystallizations of the landscape in which color is reduced to a few essential components and various effects of perspective distortion is introduced. In these works, Picasso sets the value of two crucial components for his Cubist experience: the reduction of color and the primacy of the form. Or what is the same, the subversion against the principles that had been supporting the hegemony of pictorial renovation from Impressionism: the primacy of color and the destruction of the drawing and shape. Thus, Picasso began a series of analytical experiences around the plastic problem of the representation of volumes in a plane, breaking with monofocal vision of three dimensions system.

Fruits, and Cup (Paris. Private collection), 1908, reveals how Picasso raises representation breaking with the traditional monofocal sense, reflecting the representation of objects from different views simultaneously. This experience, which the painter will lead to its ultimate consequences in Cubism, was not the mere substitution of traditional representation system (according to which the objects appeared seen from a single point) by a new one in which represented them from several. What Picasso questioned was not representation - Picasso always remained a figurative painter who was never abstract, - but the break with traditional, academic or innovative modes of representation. The result, far from being a simple change in the vision of objects, was a new formal language that prevailed a strict autonomy in the way. Picasso recovered the specific components of the paint regardless of their representative function. In this way, exceeded the reduction to shape and geometry of the appearance of the landscape and objects to establish an essential of the same analysis. The box, as noted by Maurice Raynal, "... no longer represents an anecdotal evocation, but made individuals comprising its reason for being in itself".

With these works, Picasso began the experience of cubism, name with that in 1908 the critic Louis Vauxcelles baptized the trend. No doubt it is one the most radical revolutions of contemporary painting. Picture leaves his status window open, scene of three dimensions, to retrieve the plane in which the representation dispenses with traditional three-dimensional vision to become a new plastic object without fictions perspectives. In these new experiences, Picasso developed the idea of relativity of representation from a diversity as inpredicable feature dimension. Woman with hands entwined (Eindhoven. Curious van Abbemuseum), 1909, shows this decomposition of the figure and in plans arising from a simultaneous representation of the object. Woman with mandolin (New York. Col.particular), portrait of Ambroise Vollard (Moscow. Pushkin Museum) or the portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (Chicago.Art Institute), painted in 1910, show how this process led to the painter to an obvious degree of abstraction which is accentuated in works such as the accordionist (New York. Museo Guggenhein), of the following year.

Picasso and Braque sought to avoid this degree of abstraction by introducing new components in the painting. In 1911, Braque had used lyrics in some of his paintings as a way to keep the figurative character without resorting to the three-dimensionality. Picasso, woman with guitar (Ma jolie) (New York. Museum of Modern Art), also introduced letters as a component of the painting. In 1912, Picasso made his still life with Chair of straw, which the painter retained his collection and that is the first example of collage. To do this, it applied a piece of rubber that had stamped grille of a seat straw braiding, inaugurating an experience that will have a huge projection on contemporary painting. In the collage, Picasso incorporated objects of reality: the grid from a Chair, sheets of newspapers, Earth, wood, which is suggestive representation to attend the presentation. A presentation of actual elements that assumed a plastic dimension unpublished, other than that he/she played in reality, because of the decontextualization and alteration of the function of the objects, which was achieved one of the aspirations of the painter in the box: evade the fictions of representation without omitting the reference to the real thing.

In later Cubist works, Picasso abandoned the limitations of range of color, as in Violin and fruit bowl (Philadelphia. Museum of Art), Papier collé 1913, player's cards (New York. Museum of Modern Art), 1914, and the three musicians (New York. Museum of Modern Art), and by 1921, showing the end of an experimental path that Picasso felt exhausted. Picasso, unlike other Cubist painters like Braque and Juan Gris (1887-1927), raised at one point abandoning Cubism and the need for a radical change in his painting. He/She not only resigned to continue lessons of cubism, but it began a "return to order" through a recovery of classical forms and models that Picasso, for his academic training, could undertake as any other painter. What the painter did in the experience of cubism was destroying a system of representation, demonstrate that painting could arise from other circumstances, in order to then return to classicism and to show that it is not a dead language, what is finish is academic, not the formal possibilities of classicism.

Two nude women (London. Col. Douglas Cooper), 1920, woman and child (Baltimore. Museum of Art), 1922 or Harlequin (Geneva. Col. CH. iM Obersteg), the following year, are images of this "return" to the order that Picasso took as a therapy after years of intense experimentation with the Cubist phase. But next to classicism, also a pure plasticity interest to Picasso, as in his still-life (New York. Museum of Modern Art), 1924, integrating formal lessons of cubism in a balance, order, and classical composition. Or, also, the compositions in which this serenity was transformed into the image suggestive of a parallel with the concerns of surrealism, as in woman on the edge of the Sea (New York. Museum of Modern Art), 1929.

The described experiences highlight the vitality and versatility of the language of Picasso, developed through a route in a constant process of renewal. In this sense, one of the masterpieces of the painter, characteristics of their ability to convert paint in an expressive language oriented to stir our sensibilities, is Guernica (Madrid. Centro de Arte Reina Sofía). The Government of the Republic asked Picasso a picture for the Spain Pavilion at the international exhibition of 1937. The bombing of Guernica by German aviation Picasso suggested the subject of the picture. Picasso began to carry out first preparatory drawings on May 1 of that year. During the execution of the picture he/she introduced many changes that were recorded in the photo shoot taken by Dora Maar. Picasso was a box of large dimensions with a marked reduction of color to white, black and gray. Around the meaning of the picture have been issued the most varied interpretations. What is clear is that Picasso did not introduce any elements of identification of the event that the picture had become a pamphlet occasional and fleeting. What Picasso did was a critique of the death of the innocent. Hence, the sustainability and effectiveness of your message. A horse in the Centre dying focused composition featuring characters that offer a clear significant connotation with known issues, as it is the case of the mother with the child who is left, conceived in the manner of a "piety". The figure of the dead of the first Warrior, or which lifts of the building on the left wrapped in flames or that head from right to left, one with a torch and other crawling, they appear as performers of a pathetic event. Only one figure, the Bull of the left, is depicted as a non-drama character and looking to the Viewer as a reference to the Narrator painter. At other times, as in still life with head of Bull, book, paddle and sail (New York. Private collection), 1938, Picasso is portrayed in a similar manner. Thus, Picasso raised in Guernica "masterpieces" Paragon as Las Meninas by Velázquez and the family of Carlos IV Goya, in which painters have self-portrait looking the viewer in the same place of the box.

Guernica (oil on canvas, 1937). Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (Spain).

Other these years Picasso paintings are characterized by an intense drama, as the skull of ox (Paris. Particular Col.), 1942, which will disappear after the end of armed conflicts. Pastoral Ministry (Antibes. Museum), 1946, already is an upbeat song to life through color and drawing.

It should be noted that Picasso until the last years of his life continued to be a renewing. Their versions of Las Meninas underscore its constant ability to interpretation of the classical models. His works from the 1960s, which for a long time it looked like the end of the creative capacity of the painter, behave solutions of a language that anticipates many of the approaches more renovators of the painting of the eighties, confirming the fact that whenever there is a new trend of contemporary painting the name of Picasso emerges as one of its predecessors.

In May 2004 the boy canvas with the artist from Malaga pipe reached the highest price at auction to date; It was awarded at a price of 104,68 million dollars (85.6 million euros) to an anonymous buyer at the auction held at the famous signature Sotheby's. Thus, unseated the portrait of Dr. Gachet, of Van Gogh, the most expensive so far, whereby he/she paid 82.5 million dollars (68.7 million euros). On the other hand, the 1 of November 2005 a sketch reached a new record in terms of auctions of drawings by the artist; a gouache, entitled Nu Jaune, preparatory of the young ladies of Avignon, which reached the figure of 11.3 million euros, was record reached at the New York auction house Sotheby's, and paid by Olivier Berggruen, daughter of the German collector Heinz Berggruen, who possesses a famous Museum in Berlin. But again the artist from Malaga again being protagonist of peculiar ranking in May 2006, when their canvas Dora Maar with cat, designed in 1941, reached at Sotheby's the 95.2 million dollars, the second, therefore work more side of the story, thus relegated to the of Van Gogh to a third place.

Links to the internet official website of the Picasso Museum in Malaga. Collection of works by Pablo Picasso, studies to classicism and Cubism drawings. Information on temporary exhibitions, services to visitors, library... official website of the Fundación Pablo Ruiz Picasso of Malaga.


RAYNAL, M.: Picasso. Geneva: Skira, 1853.

PENROSE, r.: Picasso. His life and his work. Barcelona: Argos Vergara, 1981.

RICHARDSON, j.: Picasso. A biography. Madrid: Alianza, 1995-96.