Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Crispín Crispiniano María Remedios de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso was born in Málaga, Andalusia, Spain in 1881. His father, José Ruiz, was an artist and teacher. From a young age, Pablo Picasso learned how to paint under his father’s instruction. Paintings from his teenage years still exist, underlining a typical academic style. When Picasso’s father moved to Barcelona for a teaching position, the family followed and 13 year old Pablo Picasso attended the School of Fine Arts. In 1897, he began his studies at Madrid’s Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.
In 1900, Picasso first went to Paris— the center of the European art scene and where he would spend plenty of time throughout his life. He returned to Madrid and in 1901 entered what is known as his “Blue Period”. Said to be brought on by the suicide of a close friend of his, Picasso primarily painted in blues. Recurring themes in the period are blindness and poverty. In 1904, his palette brightened as he entered his “Rose Period”, where colors were hues of red and pink and subject matter was harlequins and clowns.
Inspired by African art he had seen in France with his friend Henri Matisse, Picasso entered his Primitivism phase in 1907. During this time, he painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon which reduced figures to geometric shapes with no perspective. The work was regarded as immoral and generally disliked. Nevertheless, this would be a transitional moment of Picasso’s career.
From 1907, Picasso began working with Georges Braque, using earth tones and geometric shapes to create a new movement: Cubism. With Braque, beginning in about 1912, he moved to techniques of collage and using cutout pieces of paper and material to create decorative and playful compositions. This was his “synthetic” Cubist phase, as opposed to the earlier “analytic”.
His next period, beginning in 1919, was yet another change in style. He briefly returned to Neoclassicism but as French Surrealism gained traction, Picasso returned to Primitivism. In the 1930s, he created works that represented the violence of war, particularly Guernica. He also created an eclectic array of ceramics, sculpture, and sketches throughout his prolific catalogue of paintings.
Throughout his life, Picasso had relations with many women, often much younger than him. These tumultuous affairs did not last long due to his abuse and infidelity, but these women were often featured as centerpieces of his artwork. He fathered multiple children. At age 79 he married his last wife, 27 year old Jacqueline Roque. In his last years, he produced over 70 portraits of her.
Picasso died in France in 1973. A mythical aura surrounded his name, as his personal life hosted so much drama and his work was so prolific and varied. Pablo Picasso’s artistic career left him as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. By using mixed styles, materials, and inspirations from the view outside his window, to war, to women, he created new interpretations of the world in which he lived. From Symbolism to inventions in Cubism, Picasso remained a pop icon until the 1960s, when his influence waned. After his death, his paintings continue to sell for high prices in the art market and museums around the world contain his work.