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Pablo Picasso 1881-1973 BACK






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Spanish painter, sculptor, draughtsman, graphic and stage designer, and ceramicist, born in Mádaga, Andalusia. The indisputable genius of 20th-century art, Picasso, like Michelangelo whom he in some ways emulated, stands as one of a handful of the most important artists in the whole history of Western art. Encouraged by his father José Ruiz Blasco, an artist and teacher of art, Picasso studied principally in Barcelona. He was deeply impressed by Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and Van Gogh, while retaining what he had learnt in his native country from El Greco, Velazquez and Goya...

During the following years, his freely inventive anatomies and architectures began to incorporate Surrealist elements, e.g. Crucifixion and Seated Bather (both 1930). In the late '20s he returned to bas-reliefs and sculpture inventing new forms, e.g. Figure of a Woman (1928) and Woman in Garden (1929-30), and sometimes using painting and sculpture interchangeably, e.g. The Painter and His Model (1928), part of which was also made as a painted metal construction. Picasso exhibited in the 1st Surrealist exhibition (Paris, 1925) and contributed etchings and writings to Surrealist publications – although he did not sign the Surrealist manifestos. In 1931 Vollard published 12 etchings by Picasso as ills to Balzac's Le chef-d'oeuvre inconnu and Albert Skira Ovid's Métamorphoses with 30 etchings by Picasso...

He was prolifically productive to the end of his life. The extraordinary versatility, energy and freedom that characterize every phase of his work were yet again manifest in the astonishing new paintings and engravings he made in the last decade of his life until the very day he died, daring and innovative in style and technique, including 347 etchings produced in 1968. A large statue in bronze, Woman Holding a Vase, made from his plaster model of 1933 and shown beside Guernica in 1937, was placed on his grave.
excerpts taken from Thames and Hudson, Dictionary of Art and Artists



An excerpt from Picasso and Portraiture by Willima Rubin
If we compare the style of the Sagot portrait to that of Woman in an Armchair, we can more easily comprehend Picasso's need to proceed to the most rigorous "descriptive analysis" possible and, at the same time, to remain as pictorially close as possible to Cezanne, who, among his precursors, was the one Picasso believed to have reached the utmost objectivity in this area. One could say that, in the spring of 1909, Picasso compared three models of objectivity -that of photography, and two others that came from his own brushes, one in the manner of Cezanne (to whom, following Braque, he turns with more and more intensity-the canvas Cezanne's Hat dates from the same period), and finally, one that results in the elegant geometrization of organic volumes made possible by the cutting into facet planes.

In May 1909 Picasso left for Horta de Ebro with the benefit of this experimentation. Very significantly, he took advantage of a stop in Barcelona to paint a delicately geometrized portrait of his old friend Manuel Pallares, executed with vibrant, broken-facct strokes. In this portrait Picasso is obviously seeking an objective way to synthesize the forms, since Pallares's portrait is midway between the decoupage of the Woman in an Armchair and the Cezannism of the Portrait of Clovis Sagot.

On June 24, 1909, Picasso wrote to the Steins that he had begun, at Horta, two landscapes and two figures. As the exhibition Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism confirmed in 1989, he must have been talking about the two landscapes of the Mountain of Santa Barbara," a subject he had already painted in 1898. Now, however, he could apply to that subject the lessons learned from Cezanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire. As for the figures, since he writes to Gertrude that it is "always the same thing," he must be referring to the Bust of a Man that was made from the photograph of a violinist, and to The Athlete (destroyed in a fire at the Sao Paulo Museum). These two works, in their slicing of planes, are close to the Woman with Vase of Flowers, one of the first portraits of Fernande at Horta in which the fragmentation of organic shapes is still discreet.



Image List

Portrait of Jaime Sabartes, 1901

Old Guitarist, 1903

Tragedy, 1903

Family of Saltimbanques, 1905

Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, 1907

The Bathers, 1918

Mother and Child, 1922

The Dream, 1932

Dora Maar, 1936

Seated Woman (Marie-Therese), 1937

Guernica, 1937

Joy of Life, 1946

Woman Flower, 1946



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