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A Guide to Pablo Picasso

22 Aug 2021 | 0 Comments

Who was Pablo Picasso?

You might have heard of him in passing as the Father of Cubism. You might think you already know everything there is to know about him – as Picasso was, and remains, one of the most famous artists in the world.

But no matter where you stand on the spectrum, here are some lesser-known facts about Picasso that we think everyone will find interesting!

 

His name is actually really long.

Picasso as a young whipper-snapper.


Pablo Picasso’s full name reads - Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Crispín Crispiniano María Remedios de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso.

His names are a mix-match of a huge number of people important to Picasso and his family – including... his mother, his father, his grandfather, his godfather, his godmother, his cousin, The Holy Trinity, two saints, and his uncle.

Thank goodness he decided to go by Picasso to save us all that mouthful!

 

His first exhibition was at just 13 years old. 

Far from the style we now associate with Picasso - his work as a child was incredibly sophisticated and proved his early talent.


As the son of an art teacher, Picasso learnt his craft very early and soon started surpassing his father – who supposedly quit, realising Picasso was already better than him.

Instead, his father channeled his ambition into his son, helping him stage his first exhibition at just 13.

If you ever visit the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, make sure you look for some of his childhood artworks, which are on display at the start of the exhibitions.

Once you’ve seen the skill he had – even at that young age – you might be able to forgive (or even allow) him for the more ‘my 6-year-old could have done that’ work his did in his old age!

 

His Blue Period came about after the suicide of his friend.

Picasso's blue period has proven to be one of his most popular styles. 


Picasso’s close friend Carles Casagemas, a fellow artist, shot himself in 1901 after attempting to shoot an ex-lover from a failed affair.

This deeply affected Picasso and led to his Blue Period – where the artist used a cold and sombre blue palette and created works that focused on poverty and instability. He even painted two death portraits of Casagemas himself.

For many people, this era of his work is his most powerful and it certainly had an impact on his emergent success in the early stages of his rise to fame.

 

He created Cubism. But not on his own.

George Braque was a close friend and collaborator with Picasso in the early days of Cubism.


The creation of Cubism is what solidified Picasso’s legacy. The innovative movement is characterised by geometric shapes and the representation of a subject from multiple perspectives, all shown at once. Cubism changed the art world forever, redefining what could be represented in art, and whilst Picasso often gets the credit, it was created in close collaboration with artist George Braque.

 

Picasso described his aim in painting in the cubist style as being ‘to paint... and nothing more’. He hoped that by distorting the world around us, he would be able to remove our focus from what is a ‘true’ or ‘good’ depiction of things.

 

He didn’t just paint.

An example of Picasso's ceramic work.


Picasso is primarily known as a painter, but he turned his hand to everything over his 80-year career. He was a prolific sculptor, working with iron, plaster and found objects. Picasso also created ceramics, etchings, collages, lithographs and even set designs for ballets.

His ceramics are now some of his most readily collectible works, not only because there are so many of them (as he was so prolific in making them) but because they’re typically smaller artworks than his paintings.

 

He had many lovers

Picasso and Dora Maar in Antibes.


Picasso was a bit of a ladies’ man and broke hearts all over the place.

He was married twice and had four children by three different women. He also had several mistresses, perhaps most notably the artist and photographer Dora Maar who influenced a lot of Picasso’s works, features in many of his paintings and of course was an accomplished artist in her own right.

Nowadays, this aspect of Picasso’s life is one that many find an awkward path to navigate – especially when it comes to celebrating Picasso as one of the great modern artists of the Twentieth century. Many art historians have done extensive research, not only to uncover the more unsavory elements of Picasso's behavior, but also to celebrate the women of Picasso's life. 

It's worth taking a read of Ruth Millington's blog on this if you want to explore this further.