Pablo Picasso

HomePage | Recent changes | View source | Discuss this page | Page history | Log in |

Printable version | Disclaimers | Privacy policy

One of the recognized masters of C. 20th art.

Spanish born Picasso (his mother's family name) 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 most widely heard of being the /Blue Period works which feature moving depictions of acrobats, harlequins, prostitutes, beggars and artists.

While Picasso was primarily a painter (in fact he believed that an artist must paint if they are to be considered true artists) but also worked with small ceramic and bronze sculptures, collage and even produced some poetry. "Je suis aussi une poete." as he quipped to his friends.

In his personal life Picasso hated to be alone when he wasn't working and in addition to having a distinguished coterie of friends (including Breton, Apollonaire need a lot more names here) usually maintained a number of mistresses in addition to his wife or primary partner.

Picasso's most famous work is probably his depiction of the Fascist bombing of Guernica. 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 but Picasso's most famous mistress/lover Dora Maar a distinguished artist in her own right.

As certain works, for example the Cubist pieces, tend to be associated in the public mind with Picasso it is important to realise quite how talented Picasso was as a painter and draughtsman. He was capable of working with oils, watercolours, pastels, charcoal, pencil, ink, pastels or indeed any medium with equally high facility. With his most extreme cubist works he came close to deconstructioning 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 endeavour he turned his mind to, extensive academic training, and a ferocious work-ethic.

Early Life

Picasso's father Don José was himself a painter and for most of his life was a professor of art at Spanish colleges (I think he only taught at two but I can't remember them at all).

Picasso and Pacifism

It is true the 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 really commented on this but encouraged the idea that it was because he was a pacifist. Some of his contempories though (including Braque) felt that this neutrality had more to do with cowardice than principle.

As 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 Spainards 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 directly act against them.

It is also important to note though that he remained aloof from the Catalonian independence movements during his youth despite expressing general support and being friends with activists within it. No political movement seemed to compell his support to any great degree.

This apolitical lack of commitment may have explained Picasso's diffident attitude neither fighting for a side nor declaring himself a consciencentious objector.