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Learn more about Pablo Picasso
Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain. The son of a Basque art teacher, Picasso showed a very early talent for drawing.
He was fourteen when the family moved to Barcelona where his father was a professor at the School of Art.
Two years later Picasso had his first exhibition of rather somber, quite classical paintings. Between 1900 and 1904 he made three trips to Paris where he studied the works of the Impressionists and of Cezanne. In 1904 he settled in France, where he has remained all his life. From 1901 onwards, Picasso's work may be divided into periods, each showing different influences and personal interests. From 1901 to 1904, the Blue Period, his paintings were melancholy in mood and subject matter, flat of form and strong contour, nearly monochromatic, and of intense blue. In some of these works, the Mannerist influence of El Greco is easily visible. The Rose Period (1905-06) offers the same flat forms but with a softer contour, a more romantic mood, and a delicate ink tonality that is often used with the blue of the earlier works. In 1906 Picasso met Matisse, with whom he shared an interest in the works of Gauguin and Cezanne. At the time he also was influenced by African primitive carvings, the result was the masterpiece Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, a huge painting of five nudes and a small still life, angularly distorted, with strong, barbaric forms that seem flat but are actually so shaded as to be three-dimensional. Called Cubism by the critics, its translucent, blocky planes led to the Analytical Cubism practiced by Braque and Picasso from 1909 to 1911 in which familiar objects such as glasses and pitchers were broken down into geometric planes. From about 1912 to 1915, the collage or paste-up method of Synthetic Cubism was developed in which bits of cloth or paper were used to build up an image. From 1915 until 1936, Picasso painted in various Cubist manners, experimented with Surrealism, and entered his classical (sometimes called white) period in the early 1920's, producing works that are sculpturesque and yet tender in mood. In the 1930's he was working in a Cubist style that is metamorphic in its visual approach.
The tragic masterpiece Guernica (1937) is painted in this style. It is a work of monumental grandeur with a tragic, almost vocal effect upon the viewer. The double portraits that first appeared in 1938 are a further evolution of this metamorphic style. In 1948 Picasso returned to themes of women, children, animals, and birds, painting in various manners synthesizing all of his previous styles. He has also produced lithographs and etchings on classical and literary subjects, sculpture, murals, jewelry, and ceramic works. Picasso's palette is varied, but he may, at times, limit himself to tones of gray and black, as in Guernica, or to a favorite combination of black, white, and shades of ochre. Picasso exhibits in his work both an attachment to the past and an innovating spirit, a spontaneity and a sense of justice. His enormous talent, imagination, and vitality add up to an artistic temperament that can be called genius. Picasso's influence upon modern art has been immeasurable.