Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain on October 25, 1881, the first child of Maria Picasso y Lopez and Jose Ruiz y Blasco. He was born into a family that appreciated art from the beginning, with his father also a painter and professor of art. He spent a great deal of time in his childhood learning to draw and attending formal academic training in the arts. He attended numerous art schools as a child and studied occasionally with his father; however, he never finished his college education in art, dropping out after only one year.
After leaving his art studies in Madrid, Picasso lived for a short while in Paris with Max Jacob, a poet and journalist of the time. Jacob taught Picasso to speak French and the two shared an apartment in the cold of the Paris winter. He eventually ended up burning much of his earliest work merely to stay warm.
In 1901, Picasso founded Arte Joven with his friend Soler in Madrid, a magazine which he fully illustrated. For the next three years, Picasso would spend his time split between both Barcelona and Paris. In 1904 Picasso met Fernande Olivier, the subject of so many of his Rose period paintings. After the successive fame and fortune that found Picasso in these early years, he left Olivier for Marcelle Humbert, known to many and Picasso as Eva – the subject of many Cubist paintings.
Picasso became well known for his group of friends in Paris, including the likes of Andre Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein. In 1911, Apollonaire and Picasso were both questioned in regards to the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, an event they were famously cleared of in short order.
Picasso was notorious for his love life. He would often have multiple mistresses, as well as a wife or partner with whom he lived. In the course of his life, he married twice and had four children with three different women.
Picasso married Olga Khokhlova, his first wife, in 1918, a ballerina in Diaghilev’s troupe and purveyor of high society. She introduced Picasso to the tendencies of high society and eventually bore his son, Paulo. The two would clash though, disagreeing on the nature of their relationship, and Picasso’s bohemian lifestyle. In 1927, Picasso started an affair with Maria-Therese Walter, in effect ending his marriage to Khokhlova. The two never divorced, as Picasso did not want to be forced to give half of his wealth to his wife, remaining married until she died in 1955.
During World War Two, Picasso was not permitted to share his work in public as the Nazi government ruling Paris did not believe it was considered artistic. He continued to paint in his studio though the whole while, having bronze smuggled into his studio for use in his art.
After Paris was liberated in 1944, Picasso was able to publicly paint again and soon became involved with Francoise Gilot, a young art student and eventually the mother of his two youngest children, Claude and Paloma. She, however, left Picasso in 1953, claiming his abuse and infidelity as the cause – something none of his other lovers did.
Picasso underwent a long period of self reflection after Gilot left him, both coming to term with the fact that he was rapidly aging, now in his 70s, and that his philandering ways were no longer appreciated by younger women. He penned many drawings that explored his own feelings of physical inadequacy, pitting himself as a dwarf against a beautiful young girl. Some of these drawings were famously sold by Genevieve Laporte, a woman who Picasso engaged in a six week long affair with and penned many of these images of.
After his tryst with Laporte, Picasso took up with Jacqueline Roque, who worked at Madoura Pottery in Vallauris. The two would eventually marry in 1961 and spend the rest of Picasso’s life together. Picasso used the marriage to Roque to exact a small degree of revenge upon Gilot for leaving him as well, keeping her children from gaining the legitimacy she desired for them along with the financial dependence that their marriage could provide.
The end of his life was spent living in luxury as a celebrity. His life had been celebrated in equal measure to his art work and thus his appearances in films such as Jean Cocteau’s Testament of Orpheus or Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Mystery of Picasso were chances for him to play himself and satiate the public’s interest in his life.
Picasso died in Mougins, France on April 8, 1973 while entertaining friends at dinner. He was interred in Vauvenargues in a famously tense funeral, at which Roque did not permit Claude or Paloma, the two children Picasso had blocked from legitimacy, from attending.