“Action is the foundation to all success.”
Picasso is not just a man and his work. Picasso is always a legend, indeed almost a myth. In the public view he has long since been the personification of genius in modern art. Picasso is an idol, one of those rare creatures who act as crucibles in which the diverse and often chaotic phenomena of culture are focused, who seem to body forth the artistic life of their age in one person. The same thing happens in politics, science, sport. And it happens in art.
Born in Malaga, Spain, in October of 1881, he was the first child born in the family. His father worked as an artist, and was also a professor at the school of fine arts; he also worked as a curator for the museum in Malaga. Pablo Picasso studied under his father for one year, then went to the Academy of Arts for one year, prior to moving to Paris. In 1901 he went to Paris, which he found as the ideal place to practice new styles, and experiment with a variety of art forms. It was during these initial visits, which he began his work in surrealism and cubism style, which he was the founder of, and created many distinct pieces which were influenced by these art forms.
Influence outside of art
Although Pablo Picasso is mainly known for his influence to the art world, he was an extremely prominent figure during his time, and to the 20th century in general. He spread his influences to the art world, but also to many aspects of the cultural realm of life as well. He played several roles in film, where he always portrayed himself; he also followed a bohemian lifestyle, and seemed to take liberties as he chose, even during the later stages of his life. He even died in style, while hosting a dinner party in his home.
Collection of work
Pablo Picasso is recognized as the world’s most prolific painter. His career spanned over a 78 year period, in which he created: 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, and 34,000 illustrations which were used in books. He also produced 300 sculptures and ceramic pieces during this expansive career. It is also estimated that over 350 pieces which he created during his career, have been stolen; this is a figure that is far higher than any other artist throughout history.
Like El Greco and Vincent van Gogh, his illustrious predecessors in the genre, Picasso seems to have had a predilection for the self-portrait, where the external image of the man becomes infused with the subjective projection of the artist; throughout his long career he painted various likenesses of himself that reveal his progress in life and art. This Self-Portrait, painted during his second stay in Paris in the winter of 1901, was the end of a series and marked the beginning of the Blue Period. He returned to Barcelona in January 1902.
Picasso was only twenty years old at the time, but he appears considerably older in this portrait. His face is drawn and gaunt from the hardships of the Parisian winter. The livid pallor of the face, relieved only by the orange tint of the lips, the scraggy beard, and the high-collared greatcoat that enshrouds the body, all heighten the feeling of sadness and solitude that emanates from the canvas. The use of cool tones, especially the deep purple of the coat, and the light, almost “anaemic” brushwork overall – except in the face – are completely in keeping with the stark, ascetic image. The fluid contour of the greatcoat, which is treated in broad, vertical areas separated by a black line, recalls the influence of Gauguin. The psychological intensity expressed in the artist’s sombre and almost hallucinatory gaze is reminiscent of self-portraits by Vincent van Gogh. The work owes a considerable debt to the late self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh, particularly his Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. The shape of the coat and the layout of the composition were later repeated almost identically in the Celestina portrait.
In this uncompromising vision of himself, Picasso makes no secret of the trials and tribulations that beset the young artist, but he does not fall prey to sentimentality. The Spaniard still has his pride.
When Picasso’s work came under the influence of the Surrealists in the late 1920s, his forms often took on melting, organic contours. This work was completed in May 1929, around the same time the Surrealists were preoccupied with the way in which ugly and disgusting imagery might provide a route into the unconscious. It was clearly intended to shock, and it may have been influenced by Salvador Dali, Joan Miro. It is thought that the picture represents the former dancer Olga Koklova, whose relationship with Picasso was failing around this time.
For the feminist movement, the reductive invasion of face and body underlines Picasso’s continual subjugation of the female image, particularly here, with the displaced vagina as mouth, complete with vicious teeth. Several commentators stress the tension in his marriage to Olga and the developing love affair with 17-year-old model Marie-Therese Walter as negative influences, but this was a deeply sexually charged man, approaching fifty and with all the inherent life-crises this significant age can pose.
The use of colour and patterning also mocks the work of Henri Matisse with its imitation of wallpaper design. The red and green polarisation, when juxtaposed with the calm sea outside, heightens the frenzied tension within the room.
This joyful work was painted at the start of an amazingly prolific year, in which Picasso produced many powerful creations, including Guernica (1937). The influence of his young love and muse had recharged him, and he became a legend in his own lifetime. This painting has a sense of harlequinade, as strong bright bands of colour are arranged so that the dress appears like a costume. The figure may also resemble a queen court card from a deck of playing cards, whose imagery is often designed with stripes and banding creatively reversed on the same plane. Here, the bands of colour are superbly controlled by the black or white striations to create a wonderful series of energetic patterns across the contours of the body.
Picasso again returns to his technique of red and green polarisation to add a further dimension of animation. This colour combination usually creates a flatness of the picture surface but he mitigates this beautifully with the construction of a Cubist sense of spatial depth. This is created by the illusion of the two corners in the tightly receding room behind the figure. As a result, the powerful body of Marie-Therese projects from the picture in sharp relief.
Picasso met Jacqueline Roque in 1953 at the pottery when she was 27 years old and he was 72. He romanced her by drawing a dove on her house in chalk and bringing her one rose a day until she agreed to date him six months later. In 1955, when Picasso’s first wife Olga Koklova died, he was free to marry. They married in Vallauris on 2 March 1961.
Jacqueline with Flowers, 1954 celebrates the entry of Picasso’s new companion, Jacqueline Roque, into his painting. Antonina Vallentin calls the figure a “modern sphinx”, and it is true that in this crouching position, with her long neck and almond-shaped eyes, Jacqueline has something of the mythic figure about her. She liked this particular position for sitting, and it will be seen again in later portraits, including the “Odalisques” series. When Picasso first met her, he was struck by her resemblance to the woman with the hookah in Delacroix’s Women of Algiers. He saw in her the same classical, Mediterranean type of beauty that he had begun to paint in Gosol.
Roque’s image began to appear in Picasso’s paintings in May 1954. These portraits are characterized by an exaggerated neck and feline face, distortions of Roque’s features. Eventually her dark eyes and eyebrows, high cheekbones, and classical profile would become familiar symbols in his late paintings. It is likely that Picasso’s series of paintings derived from Eugène Delacroix’s The Women of Algiers was inspired by Roque’s beauty; the artist commented that “Eugene Delacroix had already met Jacqueline.” In 1955 he drew Jacqueline as Lola de Valence, a reference to a famous painting of the Spanish dancer by Edouard Manet.
Don Quixote is a 1955 sketch by Pablo Picasso of the Spanish literary hero and his sidekick, Sancho Panza. It was featured on the August 18-24 issue of the French weekly journal Les Lettres Francaises in celebration of the 350th anniversary of the first part of Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Made on August 10, 1955, the drawing Don Quixote was in a very different style than Picasso’s earlier Blue, Rose, and Cubist periods.
The painting is of Don Quixote de la Mancha, his horse Rocinante, his squire Sancho Panza and his donkey Dapple, the sun, and several windmills. The bold lines, almost scribbles, that compose the figures are stark against a plain, white background. The figures are almost laconic and deformed, and are dramatic. Sancho Panza looks up at a tall, elongated, gaunt Don Quixote, who, in return, gazes forward. Don Quixote and Rocinante stand nobly, but have a somewhat tired air. The figure, painted with heavy strokes, seems to have been changed multiple times as Picasso painted Don Quixote’s torso, arms and shoulder. “The knight’s head, capped by what would be Mambrino’s helmet, is connected to his shoulders by a neck made with a single, thin line, and it sports a pointed nose and a long, equally thin goatee. He carries a lance in his right hand and the reins and a circular shield apparently in his left. Rocinante is the bag of bones described by Cervantes. Panza appears to the left, a black mass vaguely defining his round body, and sitting on Dapple who has a long, wiry neck and thin, long ears. Little attention seems to have been paid to Panza sketched in the same vein, perhaps because Don Quixote is the center of attention. Though the two figures seem to be standing still, the drawing is full of movement; the lines are exuberant and the overall effect is catchy and one of bright humor.”
Sale of his works
Pablo Picasso has also sold more pieces, and his works have brought in higher profit margins, than any other artist of his time. His pieces rank among the most expensive art works to be created; with a price tag of $104 million, Garson a la Pipe, was sold in 2004.
Although he had a conflicting lifestyle, Pablo Picasso was admired by many, and was one of the most influential figures of his time. Not only during his life, but also after his death, he is still one of the most well known artists, and political figures, of his time. With thousands of pieces to his name, and art works which have been seen by millions, around the world, he has been a great influence to society, he has influenced the art world, and he introduced many new styles of art, which helped shape modern art, and modern styles artists follow today.
When Picasso died at age 91 in April 1973, he had become one of the most famous and successful artist throughout history. He is also undeniably the most prolific genius in the history of art. His career spanned over a 78 year period, in which he created: 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, and 34,000 illustrations. Picasso was, and still is, seen as a magician by writers and critics, a metaphor that captures both the sense of an artist who is able to transform everything around him at a touch and a man who can also transform himself, elude us, fascinate and mesmerise us.
Just like William Shakespeare on literature, and Sigmund Freud on psychology, Picasso’s impact on art is tremendous. No one has achieved the same degree of widespread fame or displayed such incredible versatility as Pablo Picasso has in the art history. Picasso’s free spirit, his eccentric style, and his complete disregard for what others thought of his work and creative style, made him a catalyst for artists to follow. Now known as the father of modern art, Picasso’s originality touched every major artist and art movement that followed in his wake. Even as of today, his life and works continue to invite countless scholarly interpretation and attract thousands of followers around the world.