Pablo Picasso

No other artist is more associated with the term Modern Art than Pablo Picasso. He created thousands of paintings, prints, sculptures and ceramics during a time span of about 75 years. For many Picasso is the greatest art genius of the twentieth century. For others he is a gifted charlatan. Undisputed is the fact that he influenced and dominated the art of the twentieth century like no other modern artist.

Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain, as the son of an art and drawing teacher. He was a brilliant student. He passed the entrance examination for the Barcelona School of Fine Arts at the age of 14 in just one day and was allowed to skip the first two classes. According to one of many legends about the artist’s life, his father, recognizing the extraordinary talent of his son, gave him his brushes and palette and vowed to paint never again in his life.
Blue and Rose Period

During his lifetime, the artist went through different periods of characteristic painting styles. The Blue Period of Picasso lasted from about 1900 to 1904. It is characterized by the use of different shades of blue underlining the melancholic style of his subjects – people from the grim side of life with thin, half-starved bodies. His painting style during these years is masterly and convinces even those who reject his later modern style.

On the Beach, 1937

During Picasso’s Rose Period from about 1905 to 1906, his style moved away from the Blue Period to a friendly pink tone with subjects taken from the world of the circus.

After several travels to Paris, the artist moved permanently to the “capital of arts” in 1904. There he met all the other famous artists like Henri Matisse, Joan Miro and George Braques. He became a great admirer of Henri Matisse and developed a life-long friendship with the master of French Fauvism.

Les meninas

Inspired by the works of Paul Cezanne, he developed together with George Braque and Juan Gris developed the Cubist style. In Cubism, subjects are reduced to basic geometrical shapes. In a later version of Cubism, called synthetic cubism, several views of an object or a person are shown simultaneously from a different perspective in one picture.
Picasso and Guernica

Guernica, Exhibited in Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

In 1937 the artist created his landmark painting Guernica, a protest against the barbaric air raid against a Basque village during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso’s Guernica is a huge mural on canvas in black, white and grey which was created for the Spanish Pavilion of the Paris World’s Fair in 1937. In Guernica, Picasso used symbolic forms – that are repeatedly found in his works following Guernica – like a dying horse or a weeping woman.

Guernica was exhibited at the museum of Modern Art in New York until 1981. It was transferred to the Prado Museum in Madrid/Spain in 1981 and was later moved to the Queen Sofia Center of Art, Madrid in 1992. Picasso had disallowed the return of Guernica to Spain until the end of the rule of Fascism by General Franco.

Pablo Picasso and Women

Picasso changed his companions at least as often as his painting styles.

The relationships with women influenced his mood and even his art styles. The shift from the “blue” to the “rose period” was probably a result of meeting Fernande Olivier, his first companion. The artist made numerous portraits of his wives and companions and of his children.

During his early years in Paris, he lived with Fernande Olivier for seven years. During World War I, from 1914 to 1918, Picasso worked in Rome where he met his first wife, Olga Koklova, a Russian ballet dancer. In 1927 he met Marie Therese Walther, a seventeen year old girl and began a relationship with her. In 1936 another woman, Dora Maar, a photographer, steped into his life. In 1943 he encountered a young female painter, Francoise Gilot. In 1947 she gave birth to Claude, and in 1949 to Paloma, Picasso’s third and fourth child. The artists’s last companion was Jacqueline Roque. He met her in 1953 and married her in 1961.

Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 1907

In 1965 Pablo Picasso had to undergo a prostrate operation. After a period of rest, he concentrated on drawings and a series of 347 etchings. In spite of his health problems, he created a number of paintings during his last years. On April 8, 1973 he died at the age of 91.

* “I think about Death all the time. She is the only woman who never leaves me.”

Picasso as a Printmaker

Picasso was not only a very prolific printmaker, but also a very diverse one in the use of a great variety of different techniques. He created lithographs, etchings, drypoints, lino cuts, woodcuts and aquatints. Always on the search for something new, he experimented a lot with these techniques. Some of Picasso’s graphic works are combinations of several techniques.

Picasso created his first prints in 1905 – a series of 15 drypoints and etchings, Les Saltimbanques, published by the art dealer Vollard in 1913. More graphic works were produced in the early 1930’s. But it was in the years after World War II that most of Picasso’s prints were created.

Like Chagall, also Picasso worked with the Atelier Mourlot, a renowned art publisher and print workshop in Paris. Pablo Picasso created about 200 lithographs from 1945 to 1949 in close cooperation with Henri Deschamps, a professional printmaker from the Mourlot studio.
Was he a Charlatan?

There are numerous books and articles with anectodes, citations and interviews by Picasso. It is hard to figure out what is real and what are inventions or fakes. Picasso did not seem to care too much what the press wrote about him as long as they wrote about him at all. Whether by intuition or carefully planned, he was a marketing genius, spinning his own legend at lifetime.

Pablo Picasso/I Was Dancing In The Lesbian Bar
(Live 2002)

Picasso had an excellent business sense. He paid even small amounts by cheque: “People rather keep the cheque for my famous signature than to cash it.” He enjoyed being famous and rich. He was charming and witty and he liked to confuse, to provoke and to have his fun with the public.

After visiting an exhibition of children’s drawings: “When I was their age I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.”

About art: “You expect me to tell you what art is? If I knew it, I would keep it for myself.”

About abstract art: “There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality.”
Collecting Picasso Prints

Picasso had created a total of more than 20,000 art objects during his lifetime – enough to keep the art market for his works in continuous movement.

Picasso prints are a wide hunting ground for art aficionados. Prices vary widely, depending on edition size, whether a print is signed and numbered, on age and on the attraction of the subject. In 1999, an aquatint called La Femme au Tambourin, signed in pencil and numbered 30/30 was sold for US$376,500 at Christie’s in New York. But you can also buy an original Picasso print for a few hundred dollars from a large and unsigned edition or an edition that was made by a skilled printmaker after Picasso. These prints were often produced after drawings of the great master and with the approval or at least his knowledge. Some have his signatures on the plate, some have no signature at all. Such prints are by no means of any minor artistic value. They may not be the first choice from an investment value aspect. But they are a great way for art lovers who want to own an original piece of art by Picasso without having to spend a fortune.

Pablo Picasso Official Website


Artist’s Birthdays

This page I will include some of the artists mentioned with their birthdays. You can match them with your own and see which talent you were born with. If you are an artist or not and you were born on the same day, please include a photo of your work and include it in your comments. It can be funny or serious.

Jackson Pollock, January 28th, 1912

Adolf Gottlieb, March 14th, 1903

Arshile Gorky, sometime between 1902 and 1905

Clyfford Still, November 30th, 1904

Willem De Kooning, March 14th, 1904

Franz Kline, May 23rd, 1910

George Braque, May 13th, 1882

Jankel Adler, July 26th, 1895

Jean-Paul Riopelle, October 7th, 1923

Mark Rothko, September 25th, 1903

Philip Guston, June 27th, 1913

Robert Motherwell, January 24th, 1915

Pablo Picasso, October 25th, 1881

Robert Delaunay, April 12th, 1885

Marc Chagall, July 7, 1887

Salvador Dali, May 11th, 1904

Barnett Newman, January 29th, 1905

Henri Matisse, December 31st, 1869

Helen Frakenthaler, December 12th, 1928

Jean-Michel Basquiat, December 22nd, 1960

Kazimir Severinovich Malevich, February 23rd, 1878

Max Ernst, April 2nd, 1891

Wassily Kandinsky, December 4th, 1866

Joan Gris, March 13, 1887

Jankel Adler

Jakub Adler was born on 26th July 1895 in Tuszyn (Poland). Jankel, as he was called by his parents and later also by himself, grew up near the textile city of Lodz which had a large number of Polish, German and Jewish inhabitants. His family were Chassidist Jews, the emotional and mystical branch of Judaism that believed in the presence of God in nature rather than in the Decalogue.

Composition, Oil and sand on card laid down on board

This image of God seems to have strongly influenced Adler’s pictorial world with its unworldly, ethereal figures. He began an apprenticeship as an engraver with his uncle in Belgrade in 1912 and then travelled through the Balkan states. During the First World War Adler, the “suspicious foreigner”, began studying under Prof. Gustav Wiethüchter at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Barmen. This was followed by sojourns in Poland, Berlin and Paris. In 1922 he moved to Düsseldorf where he taught at the Kunstakademie together with Paul Klee. Both artists were a member of the Düsseldorf artist group “Junges Rheinland”. From 1931 Adler had a studio at the Düsseldorf Academy, which he gave up in 1933 when friends recommended him to leave Germany. His departure from Germany followed an active political campaign together with fellow artists and intellectuals during the elections for the Reichstag in 1933, “urgently propagating” Communism and against National Socialism. Adler first fled to Paris where he continued fighting the German Fascist regime. At the outbreak of the war in 1939 he volunteered with the Polish army, was released two years later because of bad health and moved first to Scotland and shortly afterwards to London. During the 1940s he was honoured with significant exhibitions in London, Paris and New York. Jankel Adler, whose œuvre is mostly figurative – Cubist-organoid, often with harsh contours -, was stylistically strongly influenced by Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger. He frequently worked in a mixed technique, employing thick layers of paint – unlike Picasso and Léger – so that the surfaces seem sgrafitto-like. Jankel Adler died in 1949 in Albourne near London.


George Braque

Georges Braque was born on May 13 in 1882. He grew up near Paris, and in 1902 he settled there to study painting. He really liked pictures by the fauves who painted with bright colors and unstructured forms. He painted in those styles until 1908. In 1908 Braque began to paint in the cubist style. Between 1908 and 1913 he began to study light and perspective. He used his studies to use shading of a cube to make it look both flat and three-dimensional at the same time.

Georges Braque “Violin and Pitcher”

Houses at L’Estaque
In 1909, Braque began to work with Pablo Picasso . They both began to use neutral colors and complex geometric patterns. This style of art is now called analytic cubism. Between 1910 and 1912, Braque began to use a collage. Collage is when an artist take things from everyday life like newspapers, fabric, rope, etc… and uses them is his art.

The Fruit dish
In 1914 he enlisted in the French army and was injured. After the war, Braque used more bright colors and textured surfaces. He also painted more still lifes. He died on August 31, 1963.

Jean-Paul Riopelle

Jean-Paul Riopelle (7 October 1923 – 12 March 2002) was a painter and sculptor from Quebec, Canada.

“Echo d’Horizon”

Born in Montreal, he studied under Paul-Émile Borduas in the 1940s and was a member of Les Automatistes movement. He was one of the signers of the Refus global manifesto. In 1949 he moved to Paris and continued his career as an artist, where he commercialized on his image as a “wild Canadian”. His life and artistic partner was the American painter, Joan Mitchell. They kept separate homes and studios near Giverny, where Monet had lived. They influenced one another greatly, as much intellectually as artistically, but their relationship was a stormy one, fueled by alcohol. At times their styles were remarkably similar.

Riopelle’s style changed gradually from Surrealism to Abstract expressionism, in which he used myriad soft cubes of color, applied as flat planes with a palette knife, on large canvases to create powerful atmospheres.

Tête de sanglier, eau-forte

In 1969 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, and began to spend more time in Canada. He was specially recognized by UNESCO for his work. One of his largest compositions was originally intended for the Toronto airport, but is now in the Opera Bastille in Paris. In 1988 he was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec and was promoted to Grand Officer in 1994. His relationship with Mitchell soured badly, and he returned to Canada permanently. He was the grand old man of 20th century Canadian painting and enjoyed the role.

There was a bitter legal dispute over his will between his survivors, pitting his children against his life partner. Another controversy involved the disposition of his work La Joute, a public sculpture in Montreal.

In 2000 Riopelle was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

In June, 2006 the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts organized a retrospective exhibition which was presented at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia and the Musee Cantini in Marseilles, France. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has a number of his works, spanning his entire career, in their permanent collection.