the art of ballOOn-painting

by uwe kurz

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

 

Pablo PicassoBorn as Pablo Blasco on October 25, 1881, in Malaga, Spain, to José Ruiz Blasco, and Maria Picasso—whose name he took after 1901. Picasso is largely considered one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. He is best known as the inventor of the revolutionary art style, principally Cubism; and for his contributions as a sculptor, painter, and designer.
   In 1891, Picasso moved with his family to La Coruña, where he studied fine art formally, as well as with his father, who was an artist and former professor at the School of Arts and Crafts in Malaga. The family moved again in 1896 to Barcelona, where Picasso excelled at the School of Fine Arts. In 1897, he entered the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, an academic environment he found stifling. Picasso promptly quit the academy and returned to Barcelona, where he surrounded himself with vanguard artists and writers, continuing to study art informally.
   Picasso traveled between Barcelona and Paris from 1900 to 1904, and afterward lived almost exclusively in Paris, where he was a prominent figure among his contemporaries. It was there that he met the writer and art collector Gertrude Stein, and her brother Leo, who were great fans of Picasso’s style and helped support him by purchasing many of his early works. (Impressionist painters Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne were also among the Steins’ protégés.)
   One of the more remarkable qualities of Picasso’s career was the rapidity and ease with which he evolved from one artistic style to the next. His work between 1900 and 1906 was representative of the Impressionist style founded by masters such as Matisse, Claude Monet, and Georges Seurat. He also experimented with a style borrowed from the Art Nouveau movement.
   The years between 1901 and 1904 are considered Picasso’s Blue Period, so named for the dominant use of blue in his paintings. From this period, his most outstanding works were The Soup (1902), Crouching Woman, and Blind Man’s Meal (1903). His works tended to reflect the suffering of his own poverty at that stage in his career—although he eventually became a wealthy and celebrated artist.
   Later, his paintings began to exhibit red and pink tones more prevalently; thus his work between 1904 and and 1906 is referred to as his Pink Period. Boy Leading a Horse (1905), Woman with Loaves (1906) and Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1906) are examples from this period. Generally regarded as the first cubist painting, Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon was created in 1907 and represents what stands as Picasso’s seminal artistic achievement: the foundation of the Cubist movement. The painting demonstrates a groundbreaking pictorial style that dissects the subject, ultimately creating an abstract and multi-angled representation. 
   Picasso’s contemporaries found the new style shocking; and because of this particular subject (the young women of Avignon were referred to as the wayward residents of brothels) his portrayal of them was considered brutish. By his own decision, Les Desmoiselles D’Avignon was not shown in public until the late 1930s. However, despite this initial negative reception, from 1908-1914 Picasso—working with artist Georges Braque—continued to develop the Cubist techniques that immediately began to influence a generation of prominent painters (Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Metzinger, among them), sculptors (Aleksandr Archipenko and Raymond Dumchamp-Villon, for example) and architects (chiefly Le Corbusier).
   From 1912 to 1915, Picasso and Braque began experimenting with new techniques that evolved naturally from the principles of Cubism. Using papier collé—a type of paper glued onto canvases with various other materials—they created a new form known as Collage. Picasso’s Student with a Pipe (1913), and six different versions of Absinthe Glass (1914) typify this style. During World War I, Picasso befriended poet Jean Cocteau, with whom he collaborated on a production of the ballet Parade. Conceived by Cocteau, Parade was organized in Rome before its Paris opening in May 1917. Picasso contributed the set and costumes to the production, designed in the Cubist style.
   Picasso returned from Italy with a renewed approach to his own work as well. An infusion of colors and the use of classical forms produced a style referred to as New Mediterraneanism, which borrowed largely from the neoclassical tradition of Romanticism, while still building on earlier principles of Cubism. 
   During the 1920s, Picasso contributed to the rising Surrealist movement, spearheaded by artists like Salvador Dali and André Breton. Picasso’s popularity did not cease after this point—in fact, it grew steadily throughout his relatively long life (he died at the age of 92)—but his dominance as an artist began to wane. From this period, which lasted well into the ‘30s, Picasso produced a series of “Crucifixion” paintings and the highly eroticized “Dinard” series.
   During the Spanish Civil War, which began in 1936, Picasso painted one of his most historically significant works. Guernica (1937), was Picasso’s response to the bombing of a mostly civilian Spanish villa in the Basque region by Germans allies of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. His work, begun May 1 and completed in early June, depicted the horror and turmoil of the war by focusing on that singular event of April 27, 1937. Upon its completion, Guernica was deemed a masterpiece. It was displayed at the World Fair, held in Paris later that year, followed by a flurry of international exhibitions.
   World War II then broke out, and throughout the duration of the war, Picasso remained in France, despite the occupation of German armies. There he was allowed to continue his work without incident, although the Nazis forbade him to exhibit any of his creations.
   After the war, Picasso experimented in mediums other than painting and sculpture, including writing. Among his works are the surrealist play Le Désir attrapé par la queue (Desire Caught by the Tail, written in 1941) and two collections of poems. He also worked with ceramics, although his works produced from this medium are often disregarded as frivolous.
   In 1944, Picasso announced that he had joined the French Communist Party, which opened him up to sharp criticism. His political beliefs evolved from his early experiences growing up in near poverty, as well as from his wartime perspective, and he didn’t budge in his commitment to the ideal of communism. Picasso lived with Fernande Ulivier from 1905 to 1911. In 1912, he met Eva Gouell (also known as Marcelle Humbert), whom he adored and made the focus of much of his work. Gouell died of consumption in 1915.
   Three years later he married Olga Koklova, a dancer he had met while traveling in Italy during the creation of Parade. The couple had a son, Paul, before divorcing in 1935. He then lived with Marie Therese Walter, with whom he had a daughter, Maria. From 1946 to 1953, he lived with Françoise Gilot, and together they had two children, Claude and Paloma. In 1958, he married Jacqueline Rogul. On April 8, 1973, Picasso died from a pulminary condition in Antibes, France.

 

reference: A&E Television Networks

 

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