Pablo Picasso Biography - Paintings, Art & Quotes

Pablo Picasso was one of the finest artists of the twentieth century, famed for works such as ‘Guernica’ and the Cubist art style.

Pablo Picasso: Who Was He?

Pablo Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer who is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s finest and most important artists. Picasso and Georges Braque are credited with inventing Cubism.

Early Years

Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, in Málaga, Spain. Doa Maria Picasso y Lopez was Picasso’s mother. Don José Ruiz Blasco was a painter and art instructor.


Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula is his colossal full name, which honors a number of relatives and saints. Nepomuceno, Juan Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Mara de los Remedios Patricio Clito Ruz y Picasso, Martyr.

The young Picasso, a sombre and prematurely world-weary boy, with piercing, observant black eyes that appeared to brand him as destined for greatness.

“When I was a kid, my mother told me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll become a general.'” “If you become a monk, you’ll become Pope,” he subsequently recalled. “Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

Despite being a bad student, Picasso showed a tremendous knack for sketching at a young age. His first words, according to folklore, were “piz, piz,” an infantile effort to speak “lápiz,” the Spanish word for pencil.


Picasso’s father began training him to sketch and paint when he was a youngster, and by the age of 13, he had exceeded his father’s ability level. Picasso soon lost interest in academics, preferring to spend his days sketching in his notebook instead.

“For being a bad student, I was banished to the ‘calaboose,’ a bare cell with whitewashed walls and a bench to sit on,” he said afterward. “I enjoyed being there since I had a sketch pad with me and scribbled constantly… I could have sat there for hours, sketching nonstop.”

Picasso’s family relocated to Barcelona, Spain, when he was 14 years old, and he soon applied to the city’s famed School of Fine Arts. Picasso’s admission exam was so exceptional that he was granted an exemption and enrolled, despite the fact that the institution generally only accepted kids many years his senior.

Nonetheless, Picasso resented the stringent rules and procedures of the School of Fine Arts and began skipping class to explore the streets of Barcelona, drawing the city sceneries he saw.

Picasso, at 16, came to Madrid in 1897 to study at the Royal Academy of San Fernando. However, he felt dissatisfied with his school’s sole emphasis on classical topics and procedures.

He wrote to a friend at the time, “They just go on and on about the same old stuff: Velázquez for painting, Michelangelo for sculpture.” Picasso began skipping class once more to tour the city and paint what he saw, including gypsies, beggars, and prostitutes.

In 1899, Picasso returned to Barcelona and became acquainted with a group of artists and intellectuals who met at a café called El Quatre Gats (“The Four Cats”).

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Picasso made a major break from the traditional methods in which he had been schooled and began what would become a lifetime process of experimentation and creation, inspired by the anarchists and revolutionaries he encountered there.


Picasso is still remembered for constantly reinventing himself, swinging between styles so drastically different that his life’s work appears to be the work of five or six great painters rather than just one.

Picasso argued that his various work was not indicative of drastic transformations during his career, but rather of his attention to objectively evaluate the shape and technique best suited to accomplish his desired impact for each piece.

“Whenever I wanted to say something, I said it in the way I believed I should,” he stated. “Different themes necessitate different modes of expression.” This does not entail growth or advancement; it simply means following the notion one wishes to communicate and the manner in which one wishes to express it.”

The Blue Period
Picasso’s adult career is often divided into several eras, the first of which spanned from 1901 to 1904 and is known as his “Blue Period,” after the color that dominated virtually all of his works during this time.

Picasso relocated to Paris, France, around the start of the twentieth century, to establish his own studio. Lonely and unhappy after the loss of a close friend, Carlos Casagemas, he created images of poverty, solitude, and agony nearly entirely in blue and green tones.

‘Blue Nude’ and ‘The Old Guitarist’ are two of his songs

Picasso’s most renowned Blue Period works are “Blue Nude,” “La Vie,” and “The Old Guitarist,” all of which were created in 1903.

In considering Picasso and his Blue Period, writer and critic Charles Morice famously remarked, “Is this frighteningly precocious child not fated to bestow the consecration of a masterpiece on the negative sense of living, the illness from which he appears to be suffering more than anyone else?”

‘Gertrude Stein’ and ‘Two Nudes’ from the Rose Period
By 1905, Picasso had mostly overcome his sadness, and the creative embodiment of his improved spirits was the introduction of warmer colors—including beiges, pinks, and reds—during what is known as his “Rose Period” (1904-06).

He was not only madly in love with a lovely model named Fernande Olivier, but he was also suddenly wealthy owing to the generous support of art dealer Ambroise Vollard. “Family at Saltimbanques” (1905), “Gertrude Stein” (1905-06), and “Two Nudes” (1906) are among his most recognized works from these years.


Picasso and his friend and colleague painter Georges Braque established Cubism as an aesthetic movement.

Objects are torn apart and rebuilt in an abstract form in Cubist paintings, stressing their composite geometric forms and presenting them from several, simultaneous views to produce physics-defying, collage-like effects. Cubism, which was both destructive and constructive, startled, outraged, and enthralled the art world.

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‘Avignon’s Desmoiselles’

Picasso created “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” in 1907, which is now regarded as the predecessor and inspiration for Cubism.

The piece was unlike anything he or anyone else had ever painted before, depicting five naked prostitutes abstracted and twisted with sharp geometric characteristics and stark splashes of blues, greens, and greys, and would dramatically affect the course of art in the twentieth century.

“It made me feel as if someone was drinking petrol and spitting fire,” Braque stated of his first reaction to Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles.” Braque got fascinated with Cubism instantly, perceiving it as a revolutionary movement.

Max Jacob, a close friend of Picasso and painter Juan Gris, labeled Cubism “the ‘Harbinger Comet’ of the new century,” noting, “Cubism is… a picture for its own sake.” In literature, Literary Cubism performs the same way, employing reality as a means rather than an aim.”

Picasso’s “Analytic Cubist” paintings include “Three Women” (1907), “Bread and Fruit Dish on a Table” (1909), and “Girl with Mandolin” (1910).

His later Cubist works are known as “Synthetic Cubism” because they deviated even farther from the artistic conventions of the time, constructing huge collages out of a large number of tiny, individual bits. “Still Life with Chair Caning” (1912), “Card Player” (1913-14), and “Three Musicians” (1921) are among these works.

‘Three Women in Spring,’ from the Classical Period

Picasso’s paintings between 1918 and 1927 are classified as part of his “Classical Period,” a brief return to Realism in an otherwise experimental career. The advent of World War I heralded the next major shift in Picasso’s painting.

He became more solemn and focused on the representation of truth. “Three Women at the Spring” (1921), “Two Women Running on the Beach/The Race” (1922), and “The Pipes of Pan” (1923) are among his most fascinating and significant works from this era.


Picasso got involved in a new philosophical and cultural movement known as Surrealism, the visual embodiment of which was a result of his own Cubism, beginning in 1927.

Picasso’s most well-known Surrealist masterpiece, regarded as one of the greatest paintings of all time, was painted in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War: “Guernica.” Picasso painted this picture after Nazi German bombers assisting Francisco Franco’s Nationalist troops carried out a devastating aerial raid on the Basque town of Guernica on April 26, 1937, appalled by the bombing and the inhumanity of war.

The picture is a Surrealist monument to the horrors of war in black, white, and grey, with a minotaur and other human-like creatures in various stages of misery and dread. “Guernica” remains one of history’s most poignant and powerful anti-war artworks.

‘Self Portrait Facing Death’ (later works)

Picasso’s latter works, in contrast to the dazzling intricacy of Synthetic Cubism, feature basic, infantile imagery and crude technique. Regarding the aesthetic legitimacy of his latter works, Picasso famously said to a group of schoolchildren in his old age, “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.”

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Picasso became more actively political in the aftermath of WWII, joining the Communist Party. He was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize twice, first in 1950 and again in 1961.

He was also an international star at this time in his life, the world’s most renowned living artist. While the paparazzi followed his every move, few paid attention to his paintings at the time. Picasso continued to make art and keep a busy schedule in his latter years, believing that labor would keep him alive.

A year before his death, Picasso painted the apogee of his later work, “Self Portrait Facing Death,” with pencil and crayon. The autobiographical subject, drawn crudely, is like a cross between a person and an ape, with a green face and pink hair. However, the expression in his eyes, which captures a lifetime of knowledge, dread, and doubt, is unmistakably the work of a master at the pinnacle of his skills.


Picasso was a lifelong womanizer, having several relationships with girlfriends, lovers, muses, and prostitutes, and only married twice.

He married a dancer called Olga Khokhlova in 1918, and they were married for nine years until splitting up in 1927. They have a kid named Paulo together. He married his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, in 1961, when he was 79 years old.

He established a long-term romance with Marie-Thérèse Walter while still married to Khokhlova. They have a daughter together, Maya. After Picasso died, Walter committed suicide.

Between marriages, Picasso met fellow artist Dora Maar on the filming of Jean Renoir’s film Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (released in 1936). Soon after, the two began a love and professional relationship.

Their relationship lasted more than a decade, during and after which Maar suffered from depression; they split up in 1946, three years after Picasso began an affair with Françoise Gilot, with whom he had two children, a son Claude and a daughter Paloma. In 1953, they parted ways. (Gilot would later marry polio vaccine creator Jonas Salk, a scientist.)


Picasso had four children, including Paulo (Paul), Maya, Claude, and Paloma Picasso. Paloma, who appears in numerous of her father’s paintings, would go on to become a prominent designer, creating jewelry and other goods for Tiffany & Co.


Picasso died on April 8, 1973, in Mougins, France, at the age of 91. He died of heart failure, purportedly while entertaining friends for supper with his wife Jacqueline.


Picasso’s art is regarded as radical, and he continues to be admired for his technical expertise, visionary originality, and profound sensitivity. These characteristics, when combined, have characterized the “disquieting” Spaniard with the “piercing” eyes as a revolutionary artist.

Picasso spent over 80 of his 91 years on a creative work that he superstitiously thought would keep him alive, considerably contributing to — and paralleling the whole evolution of — contemporary art in the twentieth century.