An artist that grew up in the classical tradition and went on to be perhaps the most innovative painter of the C20th was Pablo Picasso, 25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973. He was a Spanish painter, draughtsman, and sculptor who lived most of his adult life in France. Picasso’s work spans over seven decades and thousands of pieces.
Picasso's father, Jose Ruíz, was also an artist from whom the young Picasso received his first art training. Pablo attended the carpenter schools at which his father taught and as an early teen passed the entrance exam to the School of Fine Arts with ease. Though he studied at Academia de San Fernando in Madrid, he did not finish – leaving before completing even one year. He was a rebellious youth and moved back and forth between Barcelona and Paris several times between the years 1899 and 1904.
These years also represent his first “period”, the Blue Period, and a time when the young Picasso ceased to sign his full name choosing instead to sign his work only “Picasso”. The Blue Period (1901 – 1904) is characterized by images containing shades of blue and a feeling of melancholy and despair presumably caused by the recent death of a friend.
The Blue Period gave way to the Rose Period with its more cheerful subject matter and soon Picasso was experimenting with what would become cubism along with fellow artist and creator Georges Braque, a French painter and sculptor. Cubism, an important abstract art movement in the early 1900s, attempts to show the subject matter from many viewpoints using an abstracted form and random angles. His works “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon”, one of his earliest cubist pieces and arguably one of the best, is a fantastic example of the artistic genre.
Throughout his long career, Picasso often used self-portraits to depict himself in the many different guises, disguises and incarnations of his autobiographical artistic persona.
The range of styles of these self-portraits over a lifetime is astonishing, and his influence and impact on contemporary art can never be underestimated.
And here’s something maybe you didn’t know – Pablo Picasso was actually christened Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.