Pablo Picasso was the most important and famous artist of the twentieth century. His paintings influenced much of art history. Pablo Picasso started off following in his fathers’ footsteps, as his father was also a painter (The Art Story Foundation, 2020). He later attended an art school to learn about classical European art. After Picasso had learned how to paint classically, he decided to move from his home in Spain to Paris where it was considered the art capital of the world at the time (The Art Story Foundation, 2020). He was in hopes that his move to Paris would help build his career as an artist.
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The beginning of Picasso’s career was filled with paintings of sad themes and colors of blues and greens to depict his life at the time, which was filled with the hardship of any artists’ beginnings in trying to sell their artwork (Richman-Abdou, 2019). His art styles changed throughout the years and in each style, Picasso depicted his feelings and what his life was like at that time period. After the blue period as it was called when Picasso’s paintings were filled with gloom, was the rose period where his paintings showed happiness and lighter colors when his life was happy with his girlfriend at the time (Richman-Abdou, 2019).
After the rose period, Picasso entered what was called the African period where he used African sculptures and masks he had been collecting to change the way art was formed (Richman-Abdou, 2019). During this time in Picasso’s life he created a famous painting known as Les Demoiselles D’ Avignon where he mixed both European and African styles that challenged the traditional view of “how art should be done” (Harris & Zucker, 2020). This famous painting shows Picasso’s desires and his fears all in one painting and was what cubism was founded on (Harris & Zucker, 2020). During Picasso’s career, he also worked closely with George Braque, who was also an influence on the cubist movement, he did several collaborations with him. Pablo Picasso and George Braque’s artwork had been almost identical at one point in history (Rubin, 1989). Although Picasso had collaborated with George Braque, he was also a very competitive artist and wanted to rise above all the others (Richman-Abdou, 2019).
As Picasso competed against other artists he also tried any new ideas that came to mind that could help him “outdo” his fellow artists, including painting very abstract and grotesque type styles (Harris & Zucker, 2020). One of Picasso’s famous paintings called Guernica, was created to show his anger towards the civil war in his home of Spain, and the devastation of massacres taking place there (Pettinger, 2017). This famous painting was seen all over the world to show how horrible war can be and to help the refugees from his homeland. In this painting we see how Picasso uses abstract figures, flatness, sharp edges, and confrontation to show his feelings of anger towards the war (Richman-Abdou, 2019). Picasso “did not believe that paintings had to be easy to understand and that the viewer looking at the painting should be able to see what they see, not what the artist shows them to see” (Harris & Zucker, 2020).
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After the cubist movement, Picasso seemed to go back to a more classical style of art during the neo-classical period, this shows his happiness in his marriage at this time of his life (Richman-Abdou, 2019). Picasso’s career ended with surrealism, in this period Picasso mixed many of his styles from over the years into his paintings creating some of the most intriguing and famous paintings of the twentieth century (Richman-Abdou, 2019). His career was long-lasting and his art prevailed many decades (History, 2019). The way Picasso challenged the traditional styles of art and showed us that art does not have to be exactly what we see, art can be more in the eye of the beholder, is one reason Picasso’s artwork continued to be admired for decades (History, 2019). His unique style and the way he challenged history still influences us today. Through his artwork he also showed what was going on in that time period of his life and the feelings he had toward issues going on in each of these time periods. This challenged others to look at issues in a different way, for example, to see the civil war and massacre of many Spaniards as a devastating event showing war as corrupt and horrific instead of how many saw the war at this time as “heroic” (Harris & Zucker, 2020). Picasso changed how we viewed art and the world through his paintings.
- Harris B. & Zucker S. (2020). Picasso, Les Demoiselles D’Avignon. Khan Academy. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/cubism-early-abstraction/cubism/a/picasso-les-demoiselles-davignon
- History. (2019). Pablo Picasso Born. This Day in History. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pablo-picasso-born
- Pettinger T. (2017). Biography of Pablo Picasso. Oxford UK. https://www.biographyonline.net/artists/pablo-picasso.html
- Richman-Abdou K. (2019). The Evolution of Picasso’s Painting Style and What Each Artistic Choice Represents. My Modern Met. https://mymodernmet.com/pablo-picasso-periods/
- Rubin W. (1989). Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism, (p. 353), New York: The Museum of Modern Art.
- The Art Story. (2020). Pablo Picasso-Biography and Legacy. The Art Story Foundation https://www.theartstory.org/artist/picasso-pablo/life-and-legacy/
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