Ruiz Picasso (October 25, 1881 - April 8, 1973) was one of the recognized
masters of 20th century art.
name in full was Pablo (or Pablito) Diego Jose Santiago Francisco de Paula
Juan Nepomuceno Crispin Crispiniano de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad
Ruiz Blasco y Picasso Lopez. His father was José Ruiz y Blasco; his mother
Maria Picasso y Lopez. In his early years he signed his name Ruiz Blasco after
his father, but decided to use his mother's name from about 1901 on.
was born in Malaga, Spain and is probably most famous as the founder, along with
Georges Braque, of Cubism. However in a long life he produced a wide and varied
body of work, the best-known being the Blue Period works which feature moving
depictions of acrobats, harlequins, prostitutes, beggars and artists.
A young Pablo Picasso
Picasso was primarily a painter (in fact he believed that an artist must
paint in order to be considered a true artist), he also worked with small ceramic
and bronze sculptures, collage and even produced some poetry. "Je suis aussi
un poète," as he quipped to his friends.
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 Andre
Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire, writer Gertrude Stein and others, he usually maintained
a number of mistresses in addition to his wife or primary partner.
most famous work is probably his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica,
Spain. This large canvas embodies for many the inhumanity, brutality and hopelessness
of war. The painting of the picture was captured in a series of photographs by
Picasso's most famous lover, Dora Maar, a distinguished artist in her own right.
A Nazi officer is supposed to have come to his door brandishing a postcard and
demanding, "Did you do this?" "No," Picasso is supposed to have replied, "you
did." The Guernica hung in New York's Museum of Modern Art for many years,
and is now in Madrid -- Picasso stipulated that the painting should not return
to Spain until democracy was restored in that country.
certain works, for example the Cubist pieces, tend to be associated in the public
mind with Picasso, it is important to realize how talented Picasso was as a painter
and draughtsman. He was capable of working with oils, watercolours, pastels, charcoal,
pencil, ink, or indeed any medium with equally high facility. With his most extreme
cubist works he came close to deconstructing a complex scene into just a few geometric
shapes while at the same time being capable of photo-realistic pen and ink sketches
of his friends. Picasso had a massive talent for almost any artistic endeavor
he turned his mind to, despite limited formal academic training (he finished only
one year of his course of study at the Royal Academy in Madrid), and a ferocious
father Don José Ruiz y Blasco was himself a painter and for most of his life was
a professor of art at Spanish colleges. It is from Don José that Picasso learned
the basics of formal academic art training - figure drawing, and painting in oil.
Although Picasso attended art schools thoughout his childhood, often those his
father taught at, he never finished his college level course of study at the Royal
Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, leaving after less than a year.
Picasso Museum in Barcelona features many of Picasso's early works, created
while he was living in Spain, as well as the extensive collection of Jaime Sabartés,
Picasso's close friend from his Barcelona days, and for many years, Picasso's
personal secretary. There are many precise and detailed figure studies done in
his youth under his father's tutelage that clearly demonstrate his firm grounding
in classical techniques, as well as rarely seen works from his old age.
is true that 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 though (including Braque) felt that this neutrality had more
to do with cowardice than principle.
a Spanish citizen living in France, Picasso was under no compulsion to fight against
the invading Germans in either world war. In the Spanish Civil War, service for
Spaniards living abroad was optional and would have involved a voluntary return
to the country to join either side. While Picasso expressed anger and condemnation
of Franco and the Fascists through his art he did not take up arms against them.
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 his support to any great degree.
the Second World War, Picasso joined the French Communist party, and even attended
an international peace conference in Poland. But party criticism of a portrait
of Stalin as insufficiently realistic cooled Picasso's interest in Communist politics.
had a long string of lovers, four children by three women, and two wives. In the
early years of the 20th century, Picasso, still a struggling youth, began a long
term relationship with Fernande Olivier. It is she who appears in many of the
Blue and Rose period paintings. After garnering fame and some fortune, Picasso
left Fernande for Marcelle Humbert, whom Picasso called Eva. When it became clear
that Eva was dying, Picasso left her as well. Throughout his life, Picasso also
frequented bordellos, and had numerous affairs.
1918 Picasso married Olga Koklova, a ballerina with Sergei Diaghilev's troupe.
Olga 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.
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 then
underage (17) Marie Thérèse Walter, and began a secret affair with her. Picasso's
marriage to Olga soon ended in separation, 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 in 1955.
carried on a long standing affair with Marie Thérèse, and fathered a daughter,
Maya, with her. Marie Thérèse lived in the vain hope that Picasso would one day
marry her, and eventually hanged herself after Picasso's death.
photographer and painter Dora Maar was also a constant companion and lover of
Picasso. The two were closest in the late 30s and early 40s, and 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.
the liberation of Paris in 1945, Picasso began to keep company with a young art
student, Françoise Gilot. The two eventually became lovers, and had two children
together, Claude, and Paloma. Uniquely among Picasso's women, Françoise eventually
left Picasso in 1953 because of his abusive treatment, and infidelities. This
came as a severe blow to Picasso, who was used to submissive women who lived for
whatever scraps of affection or attention he deigned to give them.
went through a difficult period after Françoise's departure, coming to terms with
his advancing age, and his perception that he was an old man, now in his seventies,
who was no longer attractive, but rather grotesque to young women. A number of
ink drawings from this period explore this theme of the hideous old dwarf as buffoonish
counterpoint to the beautiful young girl.
was not long in finding another lover, Jacqueline Roque. Jacqueline worked at
the Madoura Pottery, where Picasso made and painted ceramics. The two remained
together for the rest of Picasso's life, marrying in 1961. Their marriage was
also the means of one last act of revenge against Françoise. Françoise had been
seeking a legal means to legitimize her children with Picasso, Claude and Paloma.
With Picasso's encouragement, she had arranged to divorce her then husband, Luc
Simon, and marry Picasso to secure her children's rights. Picasso then secretly
married Jacqueline after Françoise had filed for divorce in order to exact his
revenge for her leaving him.
80s and 90s, Picasso, no longer quite the energetic dynamo he had been in his
youth, became more, and more reclusive. His second wife, Jacqueline Roque, screened
all but the most important visitors, and closest friends, even excluding Picasso's
two children, Claude and Paloma, both by his former partner, the painter, Françoise
existence intensified after Picasso underwent surgery for a prostate condition
in 1965. This surgery is rumored to have left Picasso largely impotent. To a man
for whom sexual adventure was such an important part of life, this was a serious
life change, and Picasso seems to have dealt with it by redoubling his already
prolific artistic output.
his full energies to his work, Picasso became more daring, his works more colorful
and expressive, and from 1968 through 1971 he produced a torrent of paintings
and hundreds of copperplate engravings. At the time these works were dismissed
by most as pornographic fantasies of an impotent old man, or the slapdash works
of an artist who was past his prime. One long time admirer, Douglas Cooper called
them "the incoherent scribblings of a frenetic old man in the antechamber of death."
Only a decade later, after Picasso's death, when the rest of the art world had
moved on from abstract expressionism, did the critical community come to see that
Picasso had already discovered neo-espressionism, and was, as usual, ahead of
died 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.
the time of his death, Picasso, by now a multi millionaire, 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, like
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. These works form the core of the immense, and
representative collection of the Musée Picasso in Paris.
1999, Picasso's Les Noces de Pierrette (The Marriage of Pierrette) sold
for more than $51 million USD.