AUGEOS AND ARTS
Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a naturalistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th century, his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. After 1906, the Fauvist work of the slightly older artist Henri Matisse motivated Picasso to explore more radical styles, beginning a fruitful rivalry between the two artists, who subsequently were often paired by critics as the leaders of modern art.
Picasso’s work is often categorized into periods. While the names of many of his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in his work are the Blue Period (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1904–1906), the African-influenced Period (1907–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), also referred to as the Crystal period. Much of Picasso’s work of the late 1910s and early 1920s is in a neoclassical style, and his work in the mid-1920s often has characteristics of Surrealism. His later work often combines elements of his earlier styles.
Exceptionally prolific throughout the course of his long life, Picasso achieved universal renown and immense fortune for his revolutionary artistic accomplishments, and became one of the best-known figures in 20th-century art.
Picasso was exceptionally prolific throughout his long lifetime. The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000, comprising 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.
The medium in which Picasso made his most important contribution was painting. In his paintings, Picasso used colour as an expressive element, but relied on drawing rather than subtleties of colour to create form and space. He sometimes added sand to his paint to vary its texture. A nanoprobe of Picasso’s The Red Armchair (1931) by physicists at Argonne National Laboratory in 2012 confirmed art historians’ belief that Picasso used common house paint in many of his paintings. Much of his painting was done at night by artificial light.
Picasso’s early sculptures were carved from wood or modelled in wax or clay, but from 1909 to 1928 Picasso abandoned modelling and instead made sculptural constructions using diverse materials. An example is Guitar (1912), a relief construction made of sheet metal and wire that Jane Fluegel terms a “three-dimensional planar counterpart of Cubist painting” that marks a “revolutionary departure from the traditional approaches, modeling and carving”.
From the beginning of his career, Picasso displayed an interest in subject matter of every kind, and demonstrated a great stylistic versatility that enabled him to work in several styles at once. For example, his paintings of 1917 included the pointillist Woman with a Mantilla, the Cubist Figure in an Armchair, and the naturalistic Harlequin (all in the Museu Picasso, Barcelona). In 1919, he made a number of drawings from postcards and photographs that reflect his interest in the stylistic conventions and static character of posed photographs. In 1921 he simultaneously painted several large neoclassical paintings and two versions of the Cubist composition Three Musicians (Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art). In an interview published in 1923, Picasso said, “The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered as an evolution, or as steps towards an unknown ideal of painting … If the subjects I have wanted to express have suggested different ways of expression I have never hesitated to adopt them.”
Although his Cubist works approach abstraction, Picasso never relinquished the objects of the real world as subject matter.
Prominent in his Cubist paintings are forms easily recognized as guitars, violins, and bottles. When Picasso depicted complex narrative scenes it was usually in prints, drawings, and small-scale works; Guernica (1937) is one of his few large narrative paintings.
Picasso painted mostly from imagination or memory. According to William Rubin, Picasso “could only make great art from subjects that truly involved him … Unlike Matisse, Picasso had eschewed models virtually all his mature life, preferring to paint individuals whose lives had both impinged on, and had real significance for, his own.” The art critic Arthur Danto said Picasso’s work constitutes a “vast pictorial autobiography” that provides some basis for the popular conception that “Picasso invented a new style each time he fell in love with a new woman”. The autobiographical nature of Picasso’s art is reinforced by his habit of dating his works, often to the day. He explained: “I want to leave to posterity a documentation that will be as complete as possible. That’s why I put a date on everything I do.”