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Friday, 17 February 2017

Pablo Picasso


Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881 in the city of Málaga in the Andalusian region of Spain.
He was the first child of Don José Ruiz y Blasco (1838–1913) and María Picasso y López.

Portrait photograph of Pablo Picasso, 1908

His mother had a difficult labor. The midwife, thinking baby Pablo was stillborn left him abandoned on the table, but fortunately his uncle, Don Salvador, hurried for a doctor who revived him with a lung full of cigar smoke.

Picasso's full name was: Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisma Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.

In his early years he signed his name Ruiz Blasco after his father but, from about 1901 he switched to using his mother's name. Picasso switched to calling himself after his mother, partly because it was less common than Ruiz, his father's name.

The first word that Pablo spoke was "piz," short of lápiz, the Spanish word for pencil.

Young Pablo learnt how to handle paintbrush and crayons at an early age. He loved drawing pictures on the sand of Malaga beaches and by the age of 8 he could draw as well as an adult.

Pablo's father was a Professor of Fine Art and Curator at various Spanish colleges. As an artist he specialized in flowers and doves. It was from Don José that Picasso learned the basics of formal academic art training – figure drawing, and painting in oil.

Pablo often refused to go to school unless he could paint whenever he wanted. He was eventually pulled out of school at the age of 10 having barely learned to read or write and refused to learn maths.

Pablo Picasso with his sister Lola, 1889

In 1895, Picasso and his family moved to Barcelona, where his father took a position at its School of Fine Arts. Ruiz persuaded the officials at the academy to allow his son to take an entrance exam for the advanced class. The 13 year old protégée passed the exam with flying colors, winning first prize. He completed them in a week compared with the month it took others.

Picasso's father and uncle decided to send the young artist to Madrid's Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, the country's foremost art school. He studied painting there from 1897 but left after less than a year as he was impatient to make his mark. Picasso then studied on his own.


After quitting art school, Picasso started experimenting full-time with modern art styles. At the age of 16 he held his first exhibition, when a few of his paintings were shown at Barcelona.

He went to Paris for the first time in 1900. Picasso took a studio in the French capital with a friend and began to paint Paris life.

Picasso held his first Paris exhibition on June 24, 1901 at Ambroise Vollard's Gallery on the Rue Lafitte, a street known for its prestigious art galleries.

Picasso in 1904. Photograph by Ricard Canals.
In his early days in Paris the struggling Picasso kept warm by burning some of his paintings and was often near starvation. He worked at night and slept during the day whilst his flatmate, Max Jacob, did the opposite. In the morning Jacob often got up and trod on Picasso's drawings which were lying on the floor. Later his foot-marks had to be removed.

In the first decade of the 20th century Picasso went through a blue and rosa period before embarking on cubism. (Picasso said of his blue period “blue was the cheapest paint available then and I was poor”.)

Pablo Picasso, 1902–03, La soupe (The soup), Wikipedia 

During Picasso's "Rose Period"  he mostly painted circus motives. Girl Balancing on a Ball and The Actor are two paintings from this time. Both were painted in 1905 at the beginning of the Rose Period.

In 1907, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon launched cubism. The work portrays five nude female prostitutes from a brothel on Carrer d'Avinyó (Avinyó Street) in Barcelona. The Spanish artist was inspired by an exhibition of primitive art and carvings he saw at the Louvre as well as a posthumous retrospective of Paul Cézanne's work at the Salon d'Automne. .

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, oil on canvas, Wikipedia

Picasso's so called Synthetic Cubism Period was from 1912-19. During this time the Spanish artist started to use collages in his paintings as he explored the use of non-art materials. His works from this time are called papiers collés.

Much of Picasso's work of the late 1910s and early 1920s is in a neoclassical style, and his work in the mid-1920s often has characteristics of Surrealism.

During the First World War Picasso designed costumes for Diaghileu's Ballets Russes.

Costume design by Pablo Picasso representing skyscrapers and boulevards, for Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes performance of Parade at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris 18 May 1917

Pablo Picasso painted his mural painting Guernica in 1937, which showed the universal horror, felt by Franco's complete destruction by bombing of a Basque town in the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso's denunciation of the fascist bombing of Guernica did not endear him to the German occupants. After three years exiled on the Atlantic coast he returned to Paris in 1943 where he was treated with suspicion by the Nazis. He was forbidden to exhibit but was allowed to continue his work.

In 1944 Picasso wrote a play Desire Caught by the Tail. which when it was first performed it starred Jean Paul Sartre and Simeone de Beauvoir. It was far too obscure and formless and unsurprisingly flopped.

The Picasso oil painting, Women of Algiers, is a vibrant, cubist depiction of nude courtesans, and is part of a 15-work series the Spanish artist created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A to O.

On May 11, 2015 Women of Algiers set the record for the highest price ever paid for a painting at an auction when it sold for US$179.3 million (£115m) at Christie's in New York.  Eleven minutes of prolonged bidding from telephone buyers preceded the final sale - for much more than its pre-sale estimate of $140m.

The record was beaten two and half years later, by Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Christ, Salvator Mundi, which sold for  $450.3 million (£341 million) on November 15, 2017.

Covering the story, a New York TV station was mocked by art lovers when it blurred out the Cubist depictions of breasts so as not to offend its viewers.

Les femmes d’Alger, Picasso, version O

In 1962 an art lover gave Picasso a $100 check and asked for a picture. Picasso drew a smiling little devil on the back of the check and returned it to the buyer. In 1991 that $100 check made out to Pablo Picasso sold for $6,500.

In 1968, the 87-year-old artist Pablo Picasso produced Suite 347 — a series of erotic etchings deemed so scandalous that in Paris they could be viewed only behind a curtain. They were banned in Chicago.

One of Picasso's last works, completed less than a year before he died, was entitled Self Portrait Facing Death.

I am so rich that I just wiped out 100,000 francs." said Picasso after erasing one of his pictures which he didn't like.

He did 1,876 paintings ( mostly oil in canvas ), 1,355 sculptures, 2,880 ceramics, 11,000 sketches and 27,000 graphics in his 91 years of life.

When Picasso died his estate was worth 1,251,673,200 French Francs, (approx. $250 million).

At the time of his death, Picasso owned a vast quantity of his own work, consisting of personal favorites which he had kept off the art market or which he had not needed to sell.

In addition, Picasso had a considerable collection of the work of other famous artists, some his contemporaries, such as Henri Matisse, with whom he had exchanged works. Since Picasso left no will, his death duties, or estate tax to the French state, were paid in the form of his works and others from his collection.

More Picasso paintings have been stolen than those of any other artist.


Casaganas, Picasso's artist friend with whom he shared his Paris studio shot himself dead in 1901. After a time of grieving, the Spanish artist began an affair with his dead friend's lover Jarmaine.

In the early years of the 20th century, Picasso, still a struggling youth, began a long term relationship with Fernande Olivier. They lived together between 1904 and 1911 but, unable to marry her as she was unable to locate her husband in order to divorce him. Forty years later she found out he had actually died about the time she had met Picasso.

It is Fernande Olivier who appears in many of Picasso's Blue and Rose period paintings.

After garnering fame and some fortune, Picasso left Fernande for Marcelle Humbert, whom Picasso called Eva. When in 1917 it became clear that Eva was dying, Picasso left her.

Picasso's next relationship was with Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballerina with Sergei Diaghilev's troupe. She was as pretty as a picture but prone to jealous fits. They married on July 12, 1918 at the Russian Orthodox Church in Paris.

Picasso (Olga in an Armchair), 1918 Wikipedia 

Olga was of noble birth and introduced Picasso to high society, formal dinner parties, and all the social niceties attendant on the life of the rich in 1920s Paris. The two had a son, Paulo, who would grow up to be a sometime motorcycle racer, sometime chauffeur to his father, and dissolute.

Olga's insistence on social propriety clashed with Picasso's bohemian tendencies and the two lived in a state of near constant conflict.

In 1927 Picasso met the 17 year old Marie Thérèse Walter and he began a secret affair with her.

Pablo Picasso's 1932 painting La Lecture depicts Marie Thérèse Walter asleep with a book upon her lap. The painting led to the breakup of Picasso's marriage to Olga Khokhlova after she saw it at a retrospective exhibition and realized that the facial features were not her own.

Picasso's marriage to Olga ended in separation rather than divorce, as French law required an even division of property in the case of divorce and Picasso did not want Olga to have half his wealth. The two remained legally married until Olga's death of cirrhosis of the liver in 1955.

Marie Theresa Walter was a sloppy, sweet, gentle, sporty blonde. Picasso fathered a daughter, Maya, with her in 1935, which resulted in an almighty public scandal.

Marie Thérèse lived in the vain hope that Picasso would one day marry her and eventually hanged herself after Picasso's death.

The photographer and painter Dora Maar was also a constant companion and lover of Picasso. Their relationship with Dora Maar began in a blaze of passion in 1936. The intelligent, beautiful, stormy, fanatical left winger Dora Maar confronted Picasso and said he had to choose her and Marie Theresa Walter. Picasso told the two women to fight it out between them selves so the two girls began to wrestle.

It was Dora who documented the painting of Guernica. Like all the women in his life, Dora was cruelly abused emotionally by the narcissistic Picasso.

Picasso continued to juggle the two relationships until in 1943 he fell in love with the 21 year old art student Francoise Gilot. For three years he continued seeing Dora Maar until in 1946 when Picasso made Maar tell Gilot that there was no longer anything between her (Maar) and him.

Picasso had two illegitimate children, Claude and Paloma by the tomboyish intellectual Francoise who was 40 years younger than him. After she'd had given birth to their son and daughter her lover said of her "She used to look like a Venus and now looks like a Christ-wounded and crucified."

Pablo Picasso. Portrait of Françoise Gilot, 1946

During their ten years together Gilot was often harassed on the streets of Paris by Picasso's legal wife, Olga Khokhlova.

Françoise eventually left Picasso in 1953 because of his abusive treatment and infidelities. She commented: "He was a monster but a sacred monster."

Gilot later married Dr Jonas Salk the inventor of polio vaccine. Paloma successfully went into the cosmetics industry. Her products are sold in over 100 countries.

Picasso was not long in finding another lover, Jacqueline Roque. Jacqueline worked at the Madoura Pottery, where Picasso made and painted ceramics. He used her as a model on Studies of Algerian Women.

Jacqueline became his protector and under her influence he withdrew from friends and family. In one single year he painted 160 portraits of Jacqueline.

They married secretly in 1961 and until Picasso's death she never left his side for more than a few hours at a time.

Roque once quipped: "If my husband would ever meet a woman on the street who looked like the women in his paintings, he would fall over in a dead faint."

Devastated and lonely after the death of Picasso, Jacqueline Roque shot herself in the temple in 1986 when she was 59 years old.

Most of Picasso's loves ended up in tragic circumstances. Picasso's first wife Olga went mad. Marie Therese Walter and his widow Jacqueline both committed suicide and Dora Marr became a recluse.

Picasso frequented brothels throughout his life and also had numerous affairs. He hated to be alone when he wasn't working. In Paris, in addition to having a distinguished coterie of friends in the Montmartre and Montparnasse quarters, including André Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire, writer Gertrude Stein and others, Picasso usually maintained a number of mistresses in addition to his wife or primary partner.


Picasso was small, sunburnt and had dark eyes with an intensive gaze.  In his later years he had bald crown with a halo of white hair.

Sylvette David, a lover in 1954 said of the 73 year old Picasso. "He was very healthy and brown and he looked clean and well shaven. He didn't smell of wine or cigarettes like some older men." Picasso frequently wore a sailor suit - a white vest with blue stripes.

Pablo Picasso photographed in 1953 by Paolo Monti Wikipedia


The Spanish artist knew little about music. His first wife, Olga commented "Pablo couldn't follow two bars unless he's walking from one to the other."

Like many Spaniards Picasso was captivated by the Bullfight, which he liked to visit at Nimes and this so called spirit, was often featured in his art.

Picasso was unable to swim to the chagrin of his lover Marie Teresa Walter who loved the water.

In the 1910s and 20s Picasso had a dog called Rody. He also had an Afghan hound called Kasbec.

In his later years Picasso read science fiction comics.


Picasso once said "God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things."

He had a penchant for reading tarot cards and a lifelong obsession with magic. As he grew older, Picasso became the hoarder of an array of superstitions and occult phobias.

Picasso remained neutral during the Spanish Civil War, World War I and World War II, refusing to fight for any side or country. Picasso never commented on this but encouraged the idea that it was because he was a pacifist. Some of his contemporaries felt that this neutrality had more to do with cowardice than principle.

He also remained aloof from the Catalan independence movement during his youth despite expressing general support and being friendly with activists within it. No political movement seemed to compel Picasso's support to any great degree.

In 1944 Picasso joined the French communist party as a protest against Franco. Wisely he'd waited until after the Paris liberation from the Nazis.

Party criticism of a portrait of Stalin as insufficiently realistic cooled Picasso's interest in Communist politics, though he remained a loyal member of the Communist Party until his death.

In 1961 Picasso received the Lenin Peace Prize and his picture of a peaceful dove was adopted as a communist symbol.


Picasso moved to Barcelona from La Coruna with his family in September 1895 and didn’t leave until he was 21 although he did make long visits to Paris.

He left Barcelona to live in Paris in 1904, but never took up French citizenship.

After the fall of Madrid to Franco in 1939, Picasso never returned to Spain.

When the Germans invaded France Picasso moved to the French Atlantic coast.

In 1943 he moved back to Paris and stayed in his studio on Rue des Grands Augustins.

In 1955 Picasso and Jacqueline settled on his beloved Cote D'Azur.

His last home was Notre Dame De Vie in Mougins, South France, a barbed wire barricaded villa. It was a 17-acre estate between Cannes and Grasse, a twin towered 35 room Chateau.

When Picasso commissioned a local cabinet maker to build a wardrobe for him he drew a sketch with the design and dimensions and gave it to the craftsman. "How much will it cost?" he asked "nothing at all just sign the sketch." replied the cabinet maker.


Pablo Picasso died with final words, "drink to me", on April 8, 1973 at Mougins, France, and was interred at Castle Vauvenargues' park, in Vauvenargues, Bouches-du-Rhône.

Jacqueline prevented his children Claude and Paloma from attending the funeral.

In death Picasso left a legacy of bitterness and confusion. He died without leaving a will and his descendants battled for control of his £650 million ($800 million) estate.

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