Pablo Picasso is unquestionably the most famous artist of the 20th Century. In his artistic life, lasting more than 75 years, he created tens of thousands of works, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, original lithographs, etchings, linoleum cuts, and ceramics. No single artist has had a greater influence on Modern Art and has changed art more profoundly in the 20th Century. Picasso has been described as having lived several lifetimes artistically. He created Cubism (with George Braque) and continued thereafter to develop his art with a velocity that is comparable to the pace and dramatic change of the 20th century.
Born in Malaga on October 25, 1881, Pablo was given an incredibly lengthy legal name: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. He received his first drawing lessons from his father, a drawing teacher, at La Coruna in 1891. In 1895, the family moved to Barcelona, where young Pablo brilliantly passed the entry examination to the famous La Llonga art school after completing the one-month qualifying exam in a single day. His father was so overwhelmed by his son’s abilities that he gave him own brushes and proclaimed that he would never paint again.
In 1897, he exhibited drawings in a cafe called Els Quatre Gats, part of the artistic center of Barcelona. In 1899, he met Jaime Sabartes and did his first etching, “El Zurdo.” The following year saw Picasso in Paris for the first time where he created and exhibited his drawings. In 1901, he made drawings in Madrid and Paris and he started to sign his works “Picasso” – his mother’s maiden name. In 1904, he settled definitively in Paris where he rented a studio in the “Bateau Lavoir.” This is the period when he created his famous “Blue Period” works, named for their monochromatic tonality and somber content.
In 1907, Picasso created the painting that would, in essence, change Modern Art, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” Artists from all over the world made pilgrimages to see the work themselves. It led to Picasso’s collaboration with Braque (lasting into the 1920s) which created Cubism.
The 1920s were important years in the development of Picasso’s art and fame. He designed theater sets and painted in cubist, neo-classical, and surrealist styles. In 1937, the fascists horrified the world with the bombing of the civilian town of Guernica, Spain. Picasso was deeply affected by the carnage and responded by creating his other most notorious masterpiece, “Guernica.”
Picasso also became one of the most important original printmakers of all time. He was never content to use any media in its purely traditional way and he revolutionized many of the graphic media he employed. In 1905, he engraved “Les Saltimbanques.” In 1906, Picasso did drypoints on celluloid and his first woodcuts. From 1909 to 1915 he produced Cubist prints and from 1916 to 1920, he did neoclassic etchings. 1919 was the year of his first lithographs. In 1927, he did etchings for Balzac’s “Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu” and etchings for Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” in 1930. In 1933, he began working on a set of one hundred copperplates for Vollard (the Vollard Series). In 1934, he did “Lysistrata” and in 1935, “The Minotauromachy.” In 1937, Picasso engraved “Franco’s Dream and Lie” (also in response to the bombing of Guernica), the sugar aquatints for Buffon’s “Histoire Naturelle,” and the portraits of Vollard that concluded the famous hundred plate series.
Picasso moved to lithography in November 1945, producing his first color works in that medium at the famous Mourlot atelier. In 1948, he did “Gongora” and Reverdy’s Le Chant des Morts. In 1949, Picasso created the lithograph entitled “The Dove of Peace,” in 1950, the illustrations for Cesaire’s “Corps Perdui,” and in 1952, the aquatints each titled “Woman at the Window.” From 1953 to 1957, he focused on aquatints, line engravings, and lithographs (the Jacqueline series) and in 1958 his first color linocuts. In 1959, he did the Tauromachy series and linocuts. From 1960 to 1967, he did aquatints, etchings, drypoints, and line engravings. In 1968, from March 16 to October 5, three weeks before his 87th birthday, he did 347 etchings, line engravings, drypoints, mezzotints, and aquatints, known as the “347 Series.”
Picasso died on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France at the age of 91.
To learn more about the Pablo Picasso Collection at Park West Gallery, please visit http://picasso.parkwestgallery.com.