Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, drawer, sculptor and etcher born in 1881 in Malaga. He started to paint at the age of eight, encouraged by his father. In 1895, he made his first big canvas and the following year was accepted at the école des Beaux-Arts of Barcelona before pursuing the académie Royale San Fernando of Madrid. After returning to Barcelona in 1899, he worked as an illustrator for newspapers.
Starting from 1904, he moved to France and met Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire and George Braque. His friend Casamegas committed suicide in 1901. Very much impacted by this event, Picasso made portraits that marked his “blue period.” This color dominated his canvases and expressed a mix of anxieties around ageing, struggles with money and death. He painted beggars, blind people and characters inspired by paintings of Greco that he was studying. Notable works of this period are Dama en Éden Concert, La Vida and La Celestina. He made numerous self portraits before his “pink period” from 1905 to 1906. During this period he fell in love with Fernande Olivier and was interested in the circus. His canvases had pink tints and he painted masks, arlequins and clowns, concentrating more on line and drawing. This ended in 1906 when he started to paint more geometric paintings. He met Gertrude Stein who bought numerous works of his. She introduced him to Matisse that same year.
Picasso appeared as the principal face of cubism with George Braque. His first notable work of this movement was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. He decomposed objects into geometric shapes and introduced a variety of materials to his canvases such as sand, paper and wood. African primitive art and iberical sculpture were sources of inspiration to the artist. Picasso made his first collages in 1912. During the first world war, he escaped the draft and moved to Rome with Jean Cocteau. He married the ballerina Olga Koklova. His paintings tended towards surrealism in 1920. The artist painted La Danse and Le Baiser then participated in the first surrealist exhibition of the Galerie Pierre in 1925.
The bombardment of Guernica in 1937 during the civil war impacted Picasso and he decided to represent this tragedy for the Universal Exhibition of Paris. This monumental work symbolised the horrors of the war. He explained “This painting is not made to decorate apartments. It is a war instrument, offensive and defensive against the enemy.” The artist also made eighteen etchings Songe et mensonge de Franco that included poetic texts. They were destined to be produced as postal cards and to be sold at the profit of Spanish republicans. During the second world war, he made Tête de taureau, l’Aubade, L’Homme au mouton. Picasso joined the French communist party in October 1944 and published an article in which he explained that his personal engagement dated from the war period in Spain. He painted Colombe de la Paix in 1949 and received an international prize of peace in 1955. Picasso died in 1973.