Pablo Picasso

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881. His father was an art teacher, which helped him to develop his talent from a very young age.

At 15 years of age, he enrolled in the Barcelona School of Fine Arts, where he painted the works First Communion and Science and Charity.

In 1897 he studied at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid and frequented the Prado Museum, where he discovered the paintings of the Spanish Golden age.

Picasso once said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”.

Upon his return to Barcelona, he began to sign his works with his mother’s surname. 

At this time, he regularly attended the Els Quatre Gats café, where he met Carles Casagemas, also a painter.

In 1900, he travelled to Paris for the first time. He moved into the Montmartre neighbourhood, where he was amazed by the cultural life that existed in this city and by artists such as Gauguin, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as the symbolism of Les Nabis.

It was during this time that he painted The Wait (Margot) and Nana.

Returning to Spain, the suicide of his friend Casagemas led him to the artistic period known as the Blue Period.

He made various compositions inspired by this event: The Burial of Casagemas and Life, reminiscent of El Greco’s paintings.

In 1904, he decided to move to Paris permanently. At this time, he developed an interest in the world of circus, reflected in his works Family of Saltimbanques or Young Acrobat on a Ball. 

This was the beginning of his Pink Period, in which the figure of the Harlequin became his alter ego.

His style then approached a new phase, of which his portrait of Gertrude Stein is particularly representative, developing the Black Period. This period would be marked by African cultures and archaic Iberian art – such as the Lady of Elche – and by the painters Ingres and Cézanne, which led the artist to paint The Young Ladies of Avignon: the birth of cubism.

It was in this context that he created his first collage, Still-Life with Chair Caning.

He then began a series of figurative portraits in a Neoclassical style, with Greco-Latin tendencies, as we can see in the painting Three Women at the Spring.

In 1917, he met the ballerina Olga Khokhlova, who became his wife and with whom he had his first child. This led him to paint works dedicated to maternity and portraits of his son Paulo.

The artist’s burgeoning relationship with Marie-Thérèse Walter would bring about a new change to his work. Thus began the surrealist stage, which inspired him in his series of sculptures of Marie-Thérèse’s head, whom he also painted sleeping or in front of the mirror.

Another of the most prominent themes in his paintings during these years was the minotaur, which became his new alter ego and is reflected in his etching Minotauromachy. 

The minotaur is also reflected in Guernica, which serves as an allegory against the barbarity of war, and in The Charnel House, which reflects another experience of military conflict: the Second World War.

During the period of the German occupation, the artist lived on the Mediterranean coast of France and painted bucolic and mythological themes. Now, his satyrs, fauns, centaurs and nymphs were depicted rejoicing as he found himself beside his new companion, Françoise Gilot. 

He also made his large war and peace murals, in which he painted the dove as a symbol of peace, with the olive branch in its beak.

Jacqueline Roque, whose affections he won over by drawing a dove on her house in chalk, was his last romantic partner until his death in 1973. 

She would become one of the most painted women in history, featuring in more than 400 paintings.

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