Pablo Picasso

Date/place of birth

October 25, 1881, Málaga, Spanien

Day/place of death

April 8, 1973, Mougins, France

Pablo Picasso - Femme et jeune Garçon nus, mardi 3 juin 1969
Pablo Picasso - Femme et jeune Garçon nus, mardi 3 juin 1969

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Pablo Picasso biography

Pablo Picasso is known even to those far removed from art and is exemplary for the modern art which he embodied, researched and promoted like no other artist of the 20th century. He was much more than that though, working as a draughtsman, graphic artist and sculptor, leaving behind a diverse legacy of some 50,000 works.

Pablo Picasso - Enthusiasm for Toulouse-Lautrec, “Blue period”, move to Paris

Pablo Picasso was born on 25 October 1881 in Málaga in Spain. His father José Ruiz Blasco was a painter and it was natural that Picasso studied art in Barcelona and Madrid. Around the turn of the century, his illustrations appeared in Spanish magazines, he made his first visit to Paris, where he discovered the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and began to sign his drawings and paintings with “Picasso”. His first solo exhibition elicited only a restrained echo and the tragic suicide of his close friend Carlos Casamaga led to a series of melancholic figural pictures in various blue tones; this so-called “Blue Period” is regarded as the artist’s first important creative phase. During this time, Picasso turned to sculpture and made his first bronze, “Seated woman”. The theme of women was significant to Picasso throughout his life. In 1904, the year of his final move to Paris, he met Fernande Olivier, his first important muse, and heralding the beginning of a long series of women that ended in 1961 with Jacqueline Roque, 46 years his junior and a seller of ceramics. Picasso enjoyed it when women fought over him and encouraged his lovers to fight hard.

“Rose Period”, first financial successes and “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”

Through his gallerist Clovis Sagot, who had once worked as a circus clown, Pablo Picasso met not only the American art collector Leo Stein and his sister, the poet Gertrude Stein, but he also came into contact with motifs from the circus world. Numerous pictures of jesters, acrobats and jugglers were created which would become known as the “Rose and circus period” of the artist’s oeuvre. Thanks to lucrative sales to the Stein siblings and the gallerist Vollard, Picasso was financially secure at this time, and artistically he cultivated a fruitful exchange with his friend Henri Matisse. In 1907 Picasso created one of his most important and famous works, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, a depiction of five prostitutes, for which the artist had produced a record number of 809 studies. Even his closest friends found the picture disturbing and his contemporaries found it unmoral; today it is considered a milestone and turning point of Western art history.

Co-founder of Cubism, political engagement against the war

Pablo Picasso was fascinated with African masks, the designs of which flowed into his style. Together with Georges Braque he founded Cubism, radically destroying the representational into splinters and colours. Although he caused a lot of furor in the avant-garde, Picasso turned to classicism, as represented by Jean-August-Dominique Ingres. He played with mythological motifs, was classed alongside Matisse as France’s greatest painter, and finally came into contact with the surrealists around André Breton. Politically, Pablo Picasso involved himself in his own manner: with the large format anti-war painting “Guernica” he created not only one of his most important masterpieces, but also an enormously symbolic critique of the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. His lithograph “The Dove” became the official poster for the 1949 peace congress in Paris, and with his friend Matisse he wrote a call for peace. The seriousness of his membership of the Communist Party of France was however doubted by some of his party comrades.

Pablo Picasso died on 8 April 1973 in Mougins in France.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Pablo Picasso Prices

Pablo PicassoFemme et jeune Garçon nus, mardi 3 juin 1969€1.128.000
Pablo PicassoHomme nu couché€688.000
Pablo PicassoDeux femmes nues se tenant€325.000
Pablo PicassoPortrait de jeune Fille, d'après Cranach le Jeune. II€322.400
Pablo PicassoFemme se coiffant - Study for La Guerre et la Paix€292.800
Pablo PicassoSaltimbanque et jeune fille€190.400

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