Perhaps the greatest artist of all time, Pablo Picasso was born in October 1881. He began to paint at the age of 7 under his father’s tuition and later studied at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts. By 1899 he had set himself up in his own studio in Barcelona. Picasso at this time was frequenting the Circulo Artistico and Les Quatre Gats, where he became closely involved with other artists of the day.
The new century saw Picasso dividing his time between Madrid and Paris. He worked through his “blue” period and by 1905 was producing the work from his “rose” period. In Madrid, Picasso experimented with the Pointillist technique, producing paintings and pastels of society ladies.
In 1907 Picasso met Braque, with whom he found much in common as they were both striving to achieve the same artistic effect. Working together they evolved what is now called “analytical cubism”. The fragmented and geometric treatment of reality and the different views of the same image which the Cubists encouraged in an attempt to portray volume without using perspective or contradicting the inherent flatness of the canvas offered other artists a totally new way in which to represent their subjects. However, when the First World War broke out in 1914, Braque and Picasso were separated by a quarrel which tragically was never healed.
Picasso’s collection with the Diaghilev Russian Ballet in Rome in 1917 led to the return to a more traditional Picasso vision, with parallel cubist work. Following this, the influence of Roman Catholicism led to a series of paintings and drawings of monumental female nudes which were first depicted stationary, and then by 1923 in terrifying, distorting movement. By the 1930s he was painting a series of nudes filled with brilliant colour and soon after that he began his bull-fighting subjects.
The Spanish Civil War and then the Second World War created a dark mood in Picasso’s work, causing him to depict dislocated forms and frightening imagery. During the occupation of Paris, Picasso remained in the city and became a symbol of the Resistance. After the war he lived mostly in the South of France, where he experimented with ceramics for some years and concentrated on developing his sculpture.
Picasso died after a long, prolific and productive life on 8th April 1973 at the Mas Notre Dame de Vie in Mougins. He was buried in the garden of the Chateau de Vauvenargues and the bronze of La Femme Au Varles of 1933 is placed on his grave.
Picasso’s personality dominated the development of visual arts in the twentieth century and he provided the inspiration for most of the enormous and revolutionary changes which took place during his lifetime.