Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, drawer, sculptor and engraver born in 1881 in Malaga. He started to paint at the age of eight, encouraged by his father. In 1895, he executed his first large scale canvas and the following year was accepted at Barcelona’s School of Fine Arts (Escola de Llotja) before pursuing the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. After returning to Barcelona in 1899, he worked as a newspaper illustrator.

In the early 1900’s, Picasso moved between Spain and France (before moving there in 1904) where he would meet Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire and George Braque. His close friend Casamegas had committed suicide in 1901. Hugely affected by this event, Picasso began to make the portraits which would come to be known as his “blue period.” This colour 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 El 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 “rose period” from 1905 to 1906. it is during this period that he fell in love with Fernande Olivier and became interested in the circus. His canvases had pink tones and he painted masks, arlequins and clowns, concentrating more on line and drawing. This period ended in 1906 when he began painting more geometric compositions. It was at this time that he met Gertrude Stein who bought numerous works from him. It was Stein who would introduce him to Matisse that same year.

Picasso appeared as the principal face of cubism alongside George Braque. His first major work of this movement was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. In it 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 Iberian sculpture were among the artist’s sources of inspiration. In 1912, Picasso made his first collages and during the first world war, he escaped the draft and moved to Rome with Jean Cocteau. He went on to marry the ballerina Olga Koklova in 1918. Towards 1920, his paintings tended towards surrealism. Picasso painted La Danse and Le Baiser and participated in the first surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre in 1925.

The bombardment of Guernica in 1937 during the civil war had an immense impact upon Picasso who decided to represent this tragedy for the Universal Exhibition in Paris. A monumental work to symbolise the monumental horrors of war. He once 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 postcards, to be sold for the profit of Spanish Republicans. During the second world war, Picasso created his 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 the international prize for peace in 1955. Picasso died in 1973.