After his birth on October 25, 1881, Pablo Picasso went on to become one of the premiere artists of the 20th century and of all time with his reimagining of the artistic form and constant questioning of how an artist interacts with their subject.
While Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain, he spent the better part of his life living in Paris, France, studying with French artists such as Georges Braque. Primarily, his life’s work is recognized for the creation of Cubism with Braque, using geometric shapes and planes to represent realistic human and object forms.
He did not only paint though and he did not stop with Cubism. Picasso’s career was filled with numerous periods, notably the Blue and Rose period along with his Cubism period. He spent much of the latter two decades of his life focused on sculpture and a great deal of time experimenting with different painting styles that never fully took shape. In all, it is believed that he produced more than 20,000 works in his life time.
It is the first period of his career, the Blue Period, which first brought acclaim and fame in the artistic community to Picasso. His blue period was marked by the painting of elongated images and lower casts of society in a mostly blue palette. Lasting from 1901 to 1904, his signature rejections of the artistic form had not yet developed.
In 1904 and 1905, Picasso entered what is known as the Rose Period of his career, highlighted by paintings in shades of red and pink. A triumphant painting from this period is his “Family of Saltimbanques”, a collection of circus performers, sharply contrasting with his earlier, Blue Period pieces.
In 1906, Picasso completed his portrait of Gertrude Stein, using a masked conceptual style to portray her, forgoing traditional portrait means. This was the first hint of his soon to be extraordinary departure from the standard forms of art in the day.
Cubism was first developed in his 1907 shocker, Les demoiselles d’Avignon. The painting was the first of many to represent a static image in geometric, planed forms. From this point on, art began only to expand, taking on new concepts and ideas for expression of images and shapes.
Between 1908 and 1911, Picasso would work closely with George Braques, pushing his mastery and development of cubism to new levels. For years he would create the paintings that he became most famous for, unfolding and cross-sectioning the human body, common objects, and portraits in his masterpieces.
He would continue to paint almost constantly, straight into World War I, when he worked in Rome as a stage designer for the Ballets Russes.
During World War II and the Nazi occupation of Paris, Picasso’s work was not fully accepted or allowed, as it went against the traditional definitions of art laid down by the occupying German government. He would continue to paint however, having products smuggled in to him.
He was forever changed by the facism he witnessed during World War II though, and joined the French Communist Party a few years after the war had ended, in 1947. He went on to win the Lenin Peace Prize and was even able to keep his paintings from being displayed in Spain until after the end of facist rule there, almost 8 years after his death.
The final years of Picasso’s life, leading up to his death in 1973 of natural causes, were spent crafting sculptures in his wife, Jacqueline Roque, who owned a pottery studio in France. The two lived together for 12 years until his death.