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Pablo Picasso

Blue Period, Pink Period, Cubism, surrealism, Ingres Period

(Malaga, 1881 – Mougins, 1973)

Pablo Picasso

Creator of an exceptional longevity, Pablo Picasso revolutionized the art of the 20th century that only his name embodies. He passed through cubism then surrealism, before seeking perpetual plastic innovations.

Son of a modest painter – who is also a drawing professor, and of a Genoese mother, from who he takes his name, Pablo Picasso arrived in Barcelona in 1895. Medieval Spanish art and Greco's works interested him, he also discovered Edvard Munch, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Pablo Picasso exhibits his work for the first time in 1899. His painting is quite classical. The concerns related to the contents express themselves in different colours: blue express his revolt against human misery (“Blue Period” [1901-1904]: Woman with blue scarf, 1902), while pink reveals a more festive signification, with his passion for circle (“Rose Period” [1904-1906]: les Bateleurs, 1906).

In Paris, where he lives since 1904 in the famous Bateau – Lavoir in Montmartre, Picasso begins a radical evolution. Its results from his aspiration for an essential plastic influenced by Iberia and African sculptures, his news discoveries (Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin), and his meetings with artists such as Henri Matisse, Georges Braque and André Derain.

A disconcerting conception begins, of which Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1906 – 1907) is the manifest. Braque is outraged, but Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, a young German collector, is excited.

Geometrisation introduced by Les Demoiselles d’Avignon intensifies under fragmentation and lead to cubism.

Figures and still – life painting confirm the explosion of volumes that lead to a structuration by plans and a global vision of the painting (Kahnweiler’s portrait, 1910). This is the limit of the abstraction, with reduced colours to brown and grey shades, with forms reduced to signs – typical of the “hermetical” phase of cubism.

In 1911, Pablo Picasso introduced in his painting numbers, letters or words in the pictorial space. Then, in this space, he introduced real elements, as piece of newspaper, wallpaper or wood imitations (Nature morte à la chaise cannée, 1912).

Another period began when Picasso collaborated with Serge de Diaghilev for decors and costumes for many ballets during a journey to Rome (Parade, 1917, Pulcinella, 1920). He leans towards a antiquity and monumental painting (la Flûte de Pan, 1923).

In the same time the cubist experience (les Trois Musiciens, 1921) achieves multiple and contradictory prolongation. From the disarticulation of the form – and under influence of surrealism – appear the “convulsive” beauty invoked by André Breton (la Danse, 1925), and the violent eroticism of his owns fantasy (Figures au bord de la mer, 1931).

This stylisation is found in the semi – abstract iron constructions of 1928 – 1929 – with the assistance of Julio González – and in the circle woman’s chest and head of 1932 – 1933.

Pablo Picasso is constantly haunted by Spain and abundantly treats corrida them (la Mort du torero, 1933). In the civil war ‘s context that hurts the country, Pablo Picasso accentuates the deformations of his subjects (Femmes dans un intérieur, 1936) and becomes stimulated by the denunciatory militancy. He passes the Second World War in Paris and his expression becomes more anxious (Nature morte au crâne de bœuf, 1942), or gets back to a timeless pathetic (l'Homme au mouton, bronze, 1944).

Pablo Picasso proclaims that he makes painting “as a revolutionary”. His commitment became materialized by his adhesion in 1944 to Communist party. In the South of France where he decided to live, Picasso lets his hope for a better world free from war express itself (la Joie de vivre, 1946; la Guerre et la Paix, 1952). Among new experiments, he creates a amazing bestiary using both sculpture (la Chèvre, 1950; la Guenon et son petit, 1952) and ceramic. He also achieves his engraving work of almost 2 000 print.

In painting, Pablo Picasso revisits great paintings of the past in few series (Femmes d'Alger [1954-1955] from Eugène Delacroix; Ménines [1957] from Diego Vélasques, le Déjeuner sur l'herbe [1960-1961] from Edouard Manet; l'Enlèvement des Sabines [1962-1963] of Louis David).

Fernande Olivier (1881-1966), Eva Gouel (1885-1915), Olga Khokhlova (1891-1954), Marie-Thérèse Walter (1909-1977), Dora Maar (1907-1997), Françoise Gilot (née en 1921), Jacqueline Roque (1926-1986): the women he loved were source of inspiration for him, and each liaison delimitated the styles of his painting.

With the exception of some paintings – as Portrait d'Olga dans un fauteuil (1918) – the faces of these women are more material construction than model. Each element – nose, hears, neck – can be deformed and put according to the expression wanted. Picasso aims for grasp personalities.

The artistic activity of Picasso just ended at his death, at the age of 91. His heirs made a huge dotation that constitutes the core of the immense and representative collection of the Musée de Picasso in Paris, inaugurated in 1985. 

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