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Tete de Morte, Lampe Cruches et Poireaux
Tete de Morte, Lampe Cruches et Poireaux Picasso

Pablo Picasso

(25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973)

Early Life
Pablo Picasso (full name Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso) was born on the 25th October 1881 in Malaga, Spain. He was the first son of Jose Ruiz y Blasco and Maria Picasso y Lopez. His father was a painter and a professor of art at the School of Crafts and curator of a local museum and Picasso learnt the basics of art from his father. Picasso also attended the Academy of Arts in Madrid, but dropped out within one year of joining it.

Life History of Picasso
Picasso made his first trip to Paris in 1900 and fell in love with the city. He lived with a friend Max Jacob who was a poet and journalist.

Jacob worked by day and slept by night, while Picasso slept during the day and worked during the night. Those were hard times for Picasso and he burned many of his paintings to keep himself warm.

Picasso started a magazine called Arte Joven in Madrid in 1901 with his friend Soler. He completely illustrated the first edition of the Arte Joven. It was from this point that instead of signing his paintings "Pablo Ruiz y Picasso" he simply signed them "Picasso".

Pablo Picasso had a propensity for entertaining while in Paris, and counted among his friends people such as Gertrude Stein and Andre Breton. Picasso also had a very active love life and usually had several mistresses along with a wife or primary partner.

All the paintings by Picasso are usually classified into various periods based on the styles and moods of the paintings. These, in turn, were largely affected by his personal life.

Picasso's real work and career as a painter is said to begin around 1894 with a painting called The First Communion which showed his sister Lola, and the more famous painting "Portrait of Aunt Pepa". In 1897, his realistic style of painting began to become influenced by Symbolism and came across in a series of landscapes where he used green and violet tones in the colours.

From 1899 to 1900 Picasso created paintings in a Modernist style which emerged due to his exposure to the works of Edward Munch, Rossetti, etc.

1901 to 1904 is called Picasso’s Blue Period because many of his paintings during that time were in the shades of blue and blue-green. The subjects of these paintings were prostitutes and beggars. Some of his famous paintings during this period were "The Blindman's Meal", "La Vie" and "Celestina".

An etching named the "Frugal Repast" also reflected his somber mood at this time. Destitution and blindness were an integral part of this theme of paintings. It was also during this time, that he started to use the image of a harlequin in checkered clothing in his paintings as his own personal motif.

1905 to 1907 is called Picasso’s Rose Period where his paintings became cheerful with the use of pink and orange colours. There were many harlequins also featured during this period.

1907 to 1909 was his African Influenced Period where his drawings were inspired by Africa and its artifacts. A good example of this period is his painting titled "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon".

1909 to 1912 was his Analytic Cubism Period. This style of painting, developed along with Georges Braque, was characterized by the use of monochrome brown colours. Picasso took the objects apart and analyzed them within the medium of his paintings.

1912 to 1919 is called Picasso’s Synthetic Cubism Period where he began to use collage. He would add newspaper pages or paper fragments of wallpaper and paste them into his work.

During the 30s he returned to a more neo-classical style of painting. Another major change was rather than the harlequin, he began to use the classical Minotaur as his motif in his paintings. Probably Picasso's most famous work, "Guernica" depicted the brutalities, and the hopelessness induced by war.

In the 50s he started reinterpreting the works of great masters, including Delacroix, Velazquez, Manet and Goya.

In 1967, the huge Chicago Picasso was unveiled. A 50 foot sculpture made on abstract themes defies interpretation - it could be a woman or a horse or a bird or quite simply anything. Picasso did not take the US$100,000 payment offered for it, but donated it to the people of Chicago.

From 1968 to 1971 he produced several copperplate etchings and paintings in the style now known as neo-expressionism. When these paintings were made, they were dismissed by critics as being the "incoherent scribblings of a frenetic old man".

Picasso's Love Life
Along with his art, Pablo Picasso's love life was also always a centre of attraction for his fans. In 1904, he began a relationship with Fernande Olivier who appears in some of Picasso's Rose Period Paintings.

He left her for Marcelle Humbert, who he used to call Eva, and declarations of his love for her are seen in his Cubist works.

In 1918, Picasso married Olga Khokhlova who was a Russian ballerina in Sergei Diaghilev's troupe. Picasso was designing a ballet for Diaghilev called "Parade" in Rome. They had one child, a son, called Paulo.

Khokhlova was fond of high society life and introduced Picasso to it. Khokhlova's socializing and Picasso’s bohemian lifestyle often clashed and their marriage was not successful. They separated when Picasso began a secret affair with the 17 year old Marie-Therese Walter. Since French Law required that Picasso give half of his property to Khokhlova upon divorce, and consequently he did not want her to have half of his wealth, they were never divorced, but remained separated till she died in 1955.

Picasso continued his affair with Walter for a long time, and they had a daughter called Maia. Walter lived in the hope that Picasso would marry her some day, which he never did. Four years after Picasso’s death, Maria-Therese hung herself.

Painter and photographer Dora Maar was also a constant companion and a lover of Picasso during the 30s and early 40s. She even documented the Guernica painting.

In 1944, Picasso began an affair with a young art student called Francoise Gilot. They had two children, Paloma and Claude. In 1953, she was the first woman in his life who left him because of his infidelity. Picasso was greatly disturbed by this. He was in his 70s now and started to see his old age from a depressing point of view.

Probably on the rebound, he then had a six week long affair with a beautiful and young girl called Genevieve Laporte. Then he met Jacqueline Roque who worked at Madoura Pottery where Picasso made and painted ceramic art. They were together until his death. They married in 1961 so, it is reported, that he could exact revenge on Francoise Gilot.

Gilot, with Picasso's encouragement, filed divorce with her husband. She was then intending to marry Picasso in order to legitimize the status of her two children and secure their rights. But when Gilot filed the divorce papers, Picasso went ahead and secretly married Jacqueline Roque to foil her attempts and thus got revenge for her leaving him.

The Death of Picasso
While he and his wife Jacqueline were entertaining friends for dinner on the 8th of April, 1973, Pablo Picasso, considered by many to be the greatest artist of the 20th Century, died. His last words were reported to be: "Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore."