Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso's signature

“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.”

— Pablo Picasso

Find beautiful framed art prints by Pablo Picasso.

Pablo Picasso - The Dream

The Dream

by Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso Biography

Spanish Painter and Sculptor, 1881 - 1973

Pablo Picasso - The Blue Nude

The Blue Nude

by Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso dominated the development of the visual arts during the first half of the 20th century. His virtuosity, imagination, and expressive power made an impressive contribution to the era of the arts. Along with Georges Braque, Picasso is best known as one of the creators of Cubism, though he utilized many styles during his career.

In the paintings of his Blue Period (1901-1904), such as The Old Guitarist, and The Blue Nude, Picasso worked with a monochromatic palette, flattened forms, and tragic, sorrowful themes.

The tragic themes and expressive style of Picasso's Blue Period began after a close friend committed suicide in Paris. During this time, the artist was sympathetic to the plight of the downtrodden and painted many canvases depicting the miseries of the poor, the ill, and those cast out of society. He too knew what it was like to be impoverished, having been nearly penniless during all of 1902.

Pablo Picasso - The Old Guitarist

The Old Guitarist

by Pablo Picasso

This bent and sightless man holds close to him a large, round guitar. Its brown body represents the painting’s only shift in color. Both physically and symbolically, the instrument fills the space around the solitary figure, who seems oblivious to his blindness and poverty as he plays. At the time the painting was made, literature of the Symbolist movement included blind characters who possessed powers of inner vision.

The thin, skeletonlike figure of the blind musician also has roots in art from Picasso’s native country, Spain. The old man’s elongated limbs and cramped, angular posture recall the figures of the great 16th-century artist El Greco.

Pablo Picasso - Mother and Child

Mother and Child

by Pablo Picasso

Picasso's Blue Period gave way between 1904 and 1906 to a style that stressed warmer colors and moods, featuring circus pictures, this period was called the Rose Period. These are among the most popular of Picasso's work - the wistful, attenuated circus performers, the figures bathed in roseate radiance. From here, Picasso progressed into the classicism revisited in 1906 and then into the development of Cubism.

In September of 1895, the young Picasso and his family moved from Malaga, Spain, where Picasso was born in 1881, to Barcelona, the Catalan city he came to regard as home. The family traveled on the cheap, in a small cargo boat. On arriving in a city enjoying a boom both industrial and cultural, they moved to a modest apartment near the waterfront - and the local art school, where Pablo was to study while his father, a struggling painter whose principal subject was pigeons, taught.

Pablo Picasso - The Dance of Youth

The Dance of Youth

by Pablo Picasso

Picasso grew up in a matriarchy. His female relatives pampered the young Picasso and outnumbered and outpowered his ineffectual father.

Even before arriving in Barcelona, before turning 14, Picasso made confident works, including The Old Fisherman. A touching portrait of a slouching, introspective old man, it echoes the Spanish sadness of El Greco and Francisco De Goya. Picasso was precocious in other ways as well. Once his family was ensconced in Barcelona, he began frequenting the brothels of its narrow back streets.

Not surprisingly, Picasso chafed at the restrictions of art school. The academy he attended, still in operation, is called La Llotja (The Exchange), because it is housed on the top floor of the stock exchange. The loation has given rise to jokes about the young Picasso being more interested in learning how to make money than how to make academic art.

Pablo Picasso - Hands with Bouquet

Hands with Bouquet

by Pablo Picasso

La Llotja did provide live models, however, a resource relished by the young Picasso, whose principal subject would always be the human figure. But Picasso also drew and painted the streets, buildings, and gardens of Barcelona, its Gothic portals, and the cloister of its cathedral.

The figures in the paintings of Picasso's youth are nearly all melancholy: The mood comes from the artist, but also from Barcelona itself, whose citizens, even at the end of the 19th century, were still mourning the loss of their autonomy at the end of the 15th, still resentful at being subsumed by Spain.

In Barcelona, Picasso also lived among the buildings designed by his contemporary Antoni Gaudi, the architect of woozy, organic structures that look like they're melting. Gaudi's masterpiece is the perpetually unfinished cathedral Sagrada Familia, which was, Picasso once quipped, more to Salvador Dali's taste than his own. Picasso and his peers dismissed Gaudi. Nonetheless, Gaudi's successful introduction of a radical new style must have fueled Picasso's own ambition.

Pablo Picasso - Girl with Pigeon

Girl with Pigeon

by Pablo Picasso

Picasso's Barcelona hangout was Els Quatre Gats, a tavern modeled on those of Montmartre, which the artist would later frequent on his trips to Paris. The owner of Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats) paid Picasso to design menus and advertisements, and the tavern was the site of his first significant show, at age 18. In keeping with the informality of the setting - and his lack of ready cash - Picasso hung his portraits unframed, tacking them directly onto the wall; all depict wild-eyed, malnourished, self-consciously artistic personalities.

In 1907, Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, a landmark in art. This picture marked a decisive break with traditional notions of beauty and harmony. Five monstrous female figures with masks rather than faces pose in a convulsive, jagged array - distorted, shaken, and savagely transformed. This disruptive image marks the birth of Cubism.

Influenced by the breakthroughs of Post-Impressionists such as Paul Cézanne, Picasso no longer sought to imitate nature in his Cubist art. Instead, he invited the viewer to examine the figures and shapes that he broke down and recombined in totally new ways.

After World War I, Picasso extended his explorations of form, placing special emphasis on brilliantly colored dreamlike images. In the 1920's and 30's, Picasso portrayed figures as though from the inside out. His Guernica, in 1937, was painted as a protest against the bombing of the town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso used his personal symbols of rage and despair to express crisis and disaster beyond individual control.

After 1945, Picasso's painting, sculpture, and ceramics developed a more relaxed and gentle feeling.

In 1971, Picasso's 90th birthday was commemorated with an exhibition in Grande Galerie of the Louvre. Picasso was the first living artist so honored.

On April 8th, 1973, Picasso died at the age of 92 at his villa in Mougins.

Find beautiful framed art prints by Pablo Picasso.

More art by Pablo Picasso

Picasso painting - Two Women Running on the Beach

Two Women Running on the Beach
by Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso - L'Italienne


by Pablo Picasso

Cubism challenged the tradition of considering painting as an orderly spatial unity that mirrors reality. Instead of seeing painted equivalents of recognizable things, the viewer was presented with objects represented simultaneously from several points of view.

Pablo Picasso - Three Musicians

Three Musicians

by Pablo Picasso

In Picasso's portrait, the heads, instruments, hands, and music remain identifiable. But they have been broken up into planes that have been flattened and arranged across the picture surface as if to remind us that this portrait is, after all, a painting.

Pablo Picasso - War and Peace, 1952

War and Peace, 1952

(serigraph, embossed)
by Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso - Nature Mort

Nature Mort

by Pablo Picasso

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