Pablo Picasso

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Pablo Picasso was one of the most renowned and influential artists of the 20th century. He was born on October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain. His father was a painter and an art teacher who taught him to draw and paint at a very young age. As a young teenager, he had acquired a level of skill even beyond that of his father’s. He was not a very good student at school, but loved to draw and paint. He recalled how his teachers used to send him to a bare cell as punishment for not doing his school work, a punishment he rather enjoyed because it gave him ample time to draw sketches. In 1895, when Picasso was 14, his family moved to Barcelona. Here he studied at a prestigious art school called School of Fine Arts, which was typically reserved for older students. However, his entrance exam impressed the masters so much that they made an exception and admitted him at the age of 14. Again, he disregarded the school rules and cut classes in order to roam the city and sketch whatever took his fancy.

At the age of 16, he moved to Madrid to attend the Royal Academy of San Fernando, where a similar fate awaited him. Frustrated with the theory and rules being taught there, he chose instead to wander around and draw what he saw. He then moved back to Barcelona and became friends with a number of artists, who inspired him to break away from mainstream techniques of drawing and painting. He moved to Paris to open up his own studio. The period from 1901 – 1904 is known as the Blue Period, during which he created most paintings in that color. Some of his famous paintings from the time include “Blue Nude,” “La Vie” and “The Old Guitarist”.

By 1905, Picasso had overcome depression as well as financial difficulties and thus began his “Rose Period” including paintings such as “Family at Saltimbanques”, “Gertrude Stein” and “Two Nudes”. In 1907, he drew the first painting in a style that came to be known as “Cubism”. It was called “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and it was a picture of four prostitutes, distorted and abstracted with geometrical features. Pictures were broken down from different angles, and the combined effect was shocking and awe inspiring for the art world. Together with Georges Braque, he developed this technique into a formal method; the two became the founders of the cubist movement. Some of the famous paintings of the time included “Three Women”, “Girl with Mandolin”, “Still Life with Chair Caning” and “Three Musicians”. He reverted to realism during World War I and created paintings such as “Three Women at the Spring” and “The Pipes of Pan”. From 1927 onwards, his work is classified under surrealism, with the most famous painting being “Guernica”. This is a portrayal of the horrors of war and shows a Minotaur and several humans with terrified and distorted faces.

Pablo Picasso showed an interest in politics after the end of World War II and was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize twice. By this point his work and fame had spread worldwide and he was deemed to be the most famous artist alive. A year before his death, he created a self-portrait entitled “Self Portrait Facing Death”. He continued to work voraciously until the end of his life and died in 1973 at the age of 91. He had been an incorrigible womanizer, who had married twice, once to a ballerina named Olga Khokhlova and next to a woman named Jacqueline Roque. He also had dozens of girlfriends, mistresses and muses during his life. By the time of his death, he had already been included in the annals of history as the greatest living painter and his fame and recognition has only increased after his death.

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