“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” (Picasso). Art has been around for about all of human history, and has told stories of societies, religions, changes and events throughout time. There was one artist though, who affected modern art with his work. This artist was Pablo Picasso. Born October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain, Picasso was a child prodigy in art. Picasso was active in the art community through his sculptures, prints, decorative art, writing, drawings, and above all, his paintings. Pablo Picasso was a genius of art during his time, reflecting his life, events, time, and boldness in his various forms of art. Picasso inspired other artists not only through his work, but also created a new form of art that changed aspects. He played a huge part in making modern art the way it is today.
His father Jose Ruiz Blasco was also an artist and art teacher. At the age of nine, Picasso had become a superb artist with the aid of his father. Picasso’s family moved around Spain quite a bit throughout his childhood due to his father’s job location changing. By 1891 their family had moved to La Caruña where Picasso took his father’s classes at the Escuela de Belles Artes. In 1895 they had moved again to Barcelona where Picasso began to grow independently as an artist by 1900. Picasso showed 150 pieces of his art at the Els Quatre Gats, the four cat’s cafe. After his exhibition at the cafe, Picasso was invited to the Exposition Universelle in Paris, France for one of his paintings, Last Moments. It was around this time that Picasso wavered living between Paris and Spain (2).
Eventually, when Picasso began living in Paris, a period known as the “Blue Period” of his artwork began. Around this time, the main focus of his art was on outcasts, beggars, and dark colors, setting the sensation of death. This depressing transformation in his art was for the most part ignited by the drama in Picasso’s life. At the start of this blue era, Picasso’s friend, Casagena committed suicide. Picasso had fallen into depression after this, which had caused a deep emotional effect on his work. Picasso described his Blue Period art as, “small and dark, intense and energetic… a sense of humor and mischief that was black and sardonic, nonetheless childish; a sense of braggadocio that moved all manner of fears” (3). Some of Picasso’s famous pieces of art in his blue` period are Child with a Dove, The Blue Nude, and The Old Guitarist. By the end of this period, Picasso chose to stay in Paris.
As the Blue Period began coming to an end, a new era of Picasso’s artwork began, known as the Rose Period. Love in his life pulled him out of the dark depression of the Blue Period. The color in his work brightened. Pink and flesh-like colors were common, and portraits of clowns and harlequins were common. Many thought that these figures were ways for Picasso to portray people in his life at the time. For instance, he incorporated his romances into the art. One of the most important relationships at this point was with Fernande Olivier. It was also common in these paintings about his relationships to find an encoded message of some sort to the person related to the image.
Around 1909, a few years after the rose period, Picasso and another artist named Braque developed the style of art called cubism. Critics misunderstood it initially, thinking that it was only just a way of creating different geometric patterns. Even so, it truly showed multiple angles of the same drawing, to show more of the subject. This style of art was able to break down objects, space, light, shadows, and color. Cubism had abstract elements to the style, which led to re-examining of what two-dimensional elements signified (3). Some famous examples of Picasso’s cubism are Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Landscape with Bridge, etc.
Picasso did additional works during and after his cubism era also. For instance, he began taking interest in synthetic art around 1912.During this time, there was a reinstatement of color in his work. He had also tied in the element of play into the art, such as how he evoked one item could actually be another. An example of this is how a guitar curve could be an ear curve. There were also illusions in this type of art since it was in a way putting three-dimensional onto a two-dimensional type of surface (3). In addition to fine art, Picasso was also involved in the performing arts. He took part in putting together the play Parade in 1916.He incorporated concepts and inventions that came up in the 20th century into it, and once the play came into place, it was widely talked about. The parade was then eventually performed in Rome, where Picasso met a dancer named Olga Kokholva. They fell in love, and the budding romance then became his muse for his new work.
Picasso’s relationships with women had become incredibly vital to his work. After meeting Olga Kokholva, the dancer from Parade, they got married in July 1918. However, there was a pattern found in every one of his relationships that mirrored into his marriage. Picasso would have affairs very regularly and ignored Olga’s irritation with him. He was also overprotective of his wife sometimes, often locking her up in the house if he had to leave. Olga also injured her leg, and Picasso felt guilty for things he did sometimes, but later fooled himself by saying, “Women’s illnesses are women’s fault.” (4). These problems Picasso had ended up shifting the style of his art from bright to very dark. throughout Picasso’s life, some of his works mirrored current events that were taking place. Picasso began doing surrealism around 1927 when the Surrealism Movement was occurring. Though there was little involvement, new dimensions were gained, and subjects and themes became erotic and disturbing. The feel of metamorphosis was also commonly found. A few years later, World War II came about, and Picasso created one of his boldest political pieces of art Guernica. In his home country of Spain In 1937, Nazi bombers destroyed Guernica. Around 1600 innocent citizens died in the bombing, and this horrified Picasso.
From Guernica and on, Picasso’s triumph years were coming to an end in later years, but even so, he never stopped working. Despite is decline in popularity, some of his last pieces in his life were considered the most moving; it was his honest work at heart. His final paintings included his final self-portrait, which is a little different from the other pieces and self-portraits that Picasso did. He worked all of his life up until his death on April 10, 1973. Until the end, with every era and piece he contributed to the world of art, he was able to shape what people think of modern art to this day. Being the rebel Picasso was, he had moved on a different path from other artists. Picasso had even called himself a rebel in Chris Nineham’s article when he states, “A painter is always at war with the world. Either he wants to crush it or conquer it, change it or celebrate it” (2). He shifted from one distinct style to the next with ease, bringing new ideas to the world all the time. With techniques such as color themes and cubism, aspects of art changed.
New dimensions in modern art came about, and artists such as Altdorfer, Manet, Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Courbet constantly referenced Picasso’s cubism in their works. Not only did Picasso’s styles change aspects of modern art, but some specific pieces he made became especially important to politics and caused controversies. His piece, Guernica was a huge importance to political views once people saw it. It made people see the horrible pain warfare brought to the town of Guernica. During World War II, there was a lot of fascism and dictatorship. This painting was not exactly straight out political propaganda, but at the same time, it changed people’s views of the war. It depicted anti-war symbolism, and eventually got people to assist Spain after the bombing.
An American tour was organized with the support of Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, and other notable American writers, which raised money for Republican forces and helped refugees from the war. At the Washington, D.C., stop of the tour, 100 people paid $5 to attend a gala fundraiser with Eleanor Roosevelt and Simon Guggenheim, and 2,000 people paid a fifty-cent (2). Due to Picasso’s single painting, there was a lot of support similar to this for Spain after the Nazi attack. For modern art in the 20th century, Picasso was a prodigy. He practiced the fine arts from the time he was a child all the way until his death. The places he lived, the people he met, the bonds he had, and the events that played throughout his life impacted his artwork and styles. As his techniques and creativity shifted through time, he was acknowledged for his brilliant ideas and inspired many artists to take on his types of art, and to build With the influence of Picasso, political and moral values shifted when people laid their eyes on his art. Modern art wouldn’t be the same without Picasso’s contribution. Because of him, the fine arts of today have branched off to create so much more in the world, but nobody forgets where one of its most important roots. (1)