Me'chelle Cosby - Picasso

Picasso was born on October 25,1881 in Malaga, Spain as Pablo Ruiz. He had later adopted the last name Picasso, his mother's maiden name, as his own. Picasso's father was an art teacher, who had encouraged Picasso and his artistic talents. He later attended the Academy of Fine Arts in La Coruna, Spain. In 1895, the Picasso family moved to Barcelona. There he had attended the advanced classes of the art academy after completing a one-month entry examination in one day. Picasso visited Paris in 1900 and traveled to and from there until about 1904. Sometime during that year he had decided to stay settled in France, where he tried a variety of modern styles.

Blue Period

The blue period took place between the years of 1901 and 1903. During this time Picasso started his unique style of art. The sad figures in the art works showed compliance with their social class. No one really knows why Picasso chose the color blue for his paintings. Some believe that it was the bluish tinge of photographs (that was often used in that period) while others think it was because blue is associated with sadness.



In 1904, the rose or as some say the circus period began. Picasso focused on the social outcast status of circus performers. In this period he used lighter and warmer colors.

Throughout this period he also met a woman by the name of Fernande Olivier. She appeared in numerous paintings that he made.


Fernande; Cubist style
Donna con le pere (Fernande)
1909, 92 x 73 cm
private collection, New York

In 1905, Picasso begins to drift away from the emotionally attached paintings like those done in the blue and rose periods.
The main colors used at this time were beige and light brown. His attention focuses more on form, which is displayed in his classical sculptures.
In 1906, he becomes interested particularly in Iberian sculptures, which were native to Spain.

Tête De Femme, 1910
Tête De Femme, 1910
Inspired mostly by Paul Cezanne, Picasso and the French artist Georges Braque worked together to create the first phase of cubism, analytical cubism. Between 1908 and 1911 the two were greatly interested in separating and analyzing various forms. In 1912, Picasso glued objects such as paper and cloth to his canvas. Then he would add paint to the picture creating a collage. This artwork led to the next phase, synthetic cubism. Synthetic cubism was more ornamental and the colors used played an important role. At the left is the picture, Tête De Femme, which was painted during the cubist period.

In 1912, Picasso began to use construction in his sculptures. He used materials such as wood, string, and other everyday objects. Picasso extended the definition of art by combining artistic and non-artistic materials together. During this time Picasso had broken up with Olivier and met a new lover, Eva Gouel. Gouel had passed away in 1915. At some point during World War I, Picasso traveled to Rome as a designer. There he had met and married Olga Koklova. He painted numerous portraits of her and their child, Paulo, in a realist style. Throughout this period he had also painted calm pictures of sculpture-like figures and pictures inspired by mythology. Picasso also created aggressive portraits of women and bizarre pictures of small-headed bathers. Some believe that he produced this kind of art due to the stress in his marriage. Even though Picasso stated that he was not a surrealist, many of his pictures had disturbing and surreal qualities.

Between the years of 1920 and 1925, Picasso gave more attention to the three-dimensional forms and classical themes. Examples of this, which can be found in his paintings, are bathers and women in drapery. The figures in the artworks are shown as large and heavy.

oil on canvas
Le Rêve ("The Dream"), 1932

From about 1925 until 1936, Picasso designed paintings with geometric shapes. The main colors used during this time were red, blue and yellow. Some paintings illustrated female figures with their mouths hung open and teeth that were frightening. At this time Picasso's marriage was breaking up and it is believed that the figures represented Koklova. Picasso tried working with welding in his sculptures around this time also. Many of his works included his new companion Marie-Thérèse Walter. The couple had a daughter in 1935 named Maria.


In 1936, Picasso met Dora Maar who became his new companion, despite the fact he was still with Walter. In 1937, the Spanish government wanted Picasso to paint a mural for Spain's exhibition in Paris. The idea of Guernica came to mind when Picasso had heard that the Nazi planes had bombed the Spanish town. Picasso described the bull, which is on the left of the painting, as being the symbol of brutality and darkness. There is an injured horse, in the center, which is believed to represent the Spanish people. An exploding light bulb, which is located in the center at the top, is seen as air warfare. Figures of people dying observed on the front represent the inhumanity.  
11' 6" x 25' 6"


During World War II, Picasso remained in Paris. His paintings throughout this time reflected the uneasiness of the war. Creations such as Head of a Bull (1943), are a little lighthearted and unusual. In this particular sculpture a bicycle seat and handlebars were used to make the bull's head. Picasso joined the Communist Party at the time of the war and afterwards he had attended peace conferences.
Bull's Head
Bull's Head
1943; 16 1/8" high
Handlebars and seat of a bicycle
photo portrait   In the 1940s Picasso met Françoise Gilot, a French painter, while still in a relationship with Maar. They had a daughter, Paloma, and a son, Claude. Both children appear in Picasso's later artworks. The couple broke up in 1953 and Picasso married Jacqueline Roque in 1961. Around this time Picasso took works from past artists and modified them into his own style. This method was scarcely done by other artist because it was thought to be unoriginal work. However, in the 1970s other postmodern artists started to utilize famous works by earlier artists for their own creations.

Due to Picasso's originality he is considered to be the most influential and well-known artist of the 20th century. He had numerous followers of his great works as well as admirers. One of his late creations was a 50 feet tall sculpture of welded steel. The masterpiece, Head of a Woman, was a gift to Chicago. It stands in the front of Chicago's Civic center and it is now a city landmark.

Outdoor Sculpture
Daley Plaza, Chicago, 1967, 50'


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