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Pablo Picasso Essay

1836 words - 7 pages

Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso was a Spanish painter and sculptor, generally considered the greatest artist of the 20th century. He was unique as an inventor of forms, as an innovator of styles and techniques, as a master of various media, and as one of the most prolific artists in history. He created more than 20,000 works of art. Born in Málaga on October 25, 1881, Picasso was the son of José Ruiz Blasco, an art teacher, and María Picasso y Lopez. Until 1898 he always used his father's name, Ruiz, and his mother's maiden name, Picasso, to sign his pictures. After about 1901 he dropped "Ruiz" and used his mother's maiden name to sign his pictures. Picasso's genius manifested itself early; at the age of 10 he made his first paintings, and at 15 he performed brilliantly on the entrance examinations to Barcelona's School of Fine Arts. His large academic canvas Science and Charity (1897, Picasso Museum, Barcelona), depicting a doctor, a nun, and a child at a sick woman's bedside, won a gold medal. Between 1900 and 1902, Picasso made three trips to Paris, finally settling there in 1904. He found the city's bohemian street life fascinating, and his pictures of people in dance halls and cafés show how he assimilated the PostImpressionism of the French painter Paul Gauguin and the symbolist painters called the Nabis. The themes of the French painters Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as the style of the latter, exerted the strongest influence. Picasso's Blue Room (1901, Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.) reflects the work of both these painters and, at the same time, shows his evolution toward the Blue Period, so called because various shades of blue dominated his work for the next few years. Expressing human misery, the paintings portray blind figures, beggars, alcoholics, and prostitutes, their somewhat elongated bodies reminiscent of works by the Spanish artist El Greco. Shortly after settling in Paris in a shabby building known as the Bateau-Lavoir ("laundry barge," which it resembled), Picasso met Fernande Olivier, the first of many companions to influence the theme, style, and mood of his work. With this happy relationship, Picasso changed his palette to pinks and reds; the years 1904 and 1905 are thus called the Rose Period. Many of his subjects were drawn from the circus, which he visited several times a week; one such painting is Family of Saltimbanques (1905, National Gallery, Washington, D.C.). In the figure of the harlequin, Picasso represented his alter ego, a practice he repeated in later works as well. Dating from his first decade in Paris are friendships with the poet Max Jacob, the writer Guillaume Apollinaire, the art dealers Ambroise Vollard and Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, and the American expatriate writers Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo, who were his first important patrons; Picasso did portraits of them all. In the summer of 1906, during Picasso's stay in Gósol, Spain, his work...

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