Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso and his Contribution to the History of Art

Pablo Picasso is one of the most renowned painters in the history of art. Born in 1881, Picasso grew to a multitalented artist (The Art Story). Apart from painting, he also worked with ceramics, he was a sculptor, and also a writer. He was born in Malaga to an art teacher. This explains where he got his talent from. He would then move to France and later Spain. He then settled in Paris in 1904. At first, he used his father’s surname which he would later change and adopt his mother’s surname, Picasso.

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In his early years, Picasso was a catholic (Pablo Picasso Organization). However, he declared himself an atheist later in life. He went to school in Spain’s top art academy where his art talent was nurtured. During his free time and for the most part of his art career, Picasso preferred attending art exhibits where he would learn from artists such as Rembrandt. He would prefer attending the exhibitions rather than having to attend the academy. With time, he dropped out of school and continued attending exhibitions where he would become inspired by the works of art by other renowned artists.

His early painting works comprised of portraits mostly, one of them is a painting of his sister during her first Holy Communion. As time went by, Picasso developed an interest in expressing modernism through his art. He would paint stylized landscapes. Between 1901 and 1904, Picasso would capitalize on painting using different hues of blue. This period was referred to as the blue period. One of the famous paintings done during this period is titled The Old Guitarist. His choice of painting style was attributed to his depression during this period (Pablo Picasso Organization).

After this period, the next painting period in his lifetime was referred to as The Rose Period. During this period, Picasso capitalized on using shades of pinks and reds where he would paint crowns, circuses and Harlequins. This period symbolized his adventure as he explored his style in art. As from 1907 up until 1912, Picasso adopted the Cubist movement. The paintings would feature complex geometric shapes and they would feature women. The women mostly featured were those that he would be in a relationship with. In 1918, he got married to his wife and remained married until she died in 1955. This was even though their marriage was tumultuous. Around the time he adopted the cubist movement in his artwork, the WWI erupted and while most of the men went to war, he remained in his studio, painting. Between the 1920 and the 1930, Picasso adopted Neoclassicism and surrealism in his paintings. Surrealism entails the use of outlandish imagery that provokes the viewer’s imagination. Rather than borrowing directly from reality or from imagination, the artist accesses the subconscious coming up with an image that can be quite perplexing. One of the most famous paintings that Picasso painted during the 1930s was Guernica, a painting that depicted the violence experienced during the war period (Pablo Picasso Organization).

In the 1940s, all the way to the late 1950s, Picasso drew a lot of inspiration from his second wife. He painted a lot of her portraits and his work comprised of his previous styles. Additionally, his style incorporated very colorful paintings. His last works of art exhibited characteristics of Neo-Expressionism (Pablo Picasso Organization).

His major contribution in art is the development of cubism and collage which later became a style so popular in the later years (Pablo Picasso Organization). Collage entailed attaching pieces of fabric or paper on his paintings giving them a personality. As for cubism, the concept entailed doing away with the three dimensionality that most painters during this period used. Instead, cubism was all about a flattened depiction of images in which geometry was utilized. His painting career was mostly based on his adventure and his willingness to explore what lay within him and bringing it to life. He experimented a lot with the different painting styles. He was  not shy of moving from one style to the other and in his later years, he would go back to his previous painting styles, creating epic works of art that are still recognized today. Some of his paintings would even combine different styles that he had used in the past.

His romantic relationships managed to inspire him a lot because many of his paintings were based on the many romantic relationships he had over time. He died in 1973 as a result of heart attack in his home in Cannes. Among the most popular works of art include Guernica, and The Old Guitarist (Pablo Picasso Organization). In the world of art, Picasso will be remembered for breaking all the rules that bound the creation of art and incorporating his own styles that gained popularity to date. His work was influenced by his very active imagination, the different cultures he encountered and the personal, and more so, romantic relationships he had. His work impacts the contemporary painters who have continued to borrow from his many different painting styles.




Les Demoiselles d’Avignon located on pg 7 of the textbook is one of the most prominent cubist painting that Picasso made. The painting was created during Picasso’s Rose Period. The painting depicts five women in altered, almost surreal flattened appearance. The women are painted using a warm variation of brown color with a background of hues of blue. The browns in the image are more prominent than the blues making the image fit more in the described Rose period. The women are naked and looking directly ahead, each woman self-absorbed in her world. Since time immemorial, women have been depicted as sexual objects especially if painted in the nude. But in this case, the women appear fierce, and not necessarily looking for the approval of the society. It is as if they are in the quest to reject the patriarchal power and its stipulations over how they should behave. Not forgetting that the painting was influenced by the African culture, and hence the depiction of primitiveness in the painting that resonated with the African culture as viewed during the time (Pablo Picasso Organization).

The theme of the image is the liberation of women from the societal expectations. In the painting, the women are uncovered and their faces appear quite primitive rather than the soft beauty that marks most of the painters’ idealized depiction of the women. Based on the history of the painting, Picasso was depicting the African culture and that is the reason why the women’s faces appear distorted, like they are primitive. Still, the fact that they are not positioned in a way that they appear to not be fighting for any male attention gives them a liberated look (Pablo Picasso Organization).

Picasso paints the background using blue, just like in his early paintings. Blue is one of the cool colors used to symbolize melancholy in paintings. As a result, Picasso may have used the color sparingly in this case to add just a tinge of melancholy in the depiction of the women. Most of the image comprises of brown and other warm hues which depict warmth and happiness. In this case, Picasso was expressing a sense of adventure using these warm hues.

The most prominent feature of the painting is the fact that it is not three dimensional. It utilizes the cubist style. The cubist style of painting was Picasso’s way of rebelling the traditional 3D painting style that was being used by the painters during that period. The style utilized in the painting is, therefore, similar to the theme of the painting which is the depiction of a woman in a compromising situation that the society would not approve of.

The whole painting including the style utilized, the colors used, and the theme of the painting express a new way of thinking that Picasso aimed at upholding throughout his life. It was a mindset that did not settle for the ordinary, but the extraordinary way of looking at life which made him a prodigy in his craft.















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