Picasso: life and paintings | summary in 10 points

Picasso, Guernica, 1937, oil on canvas, 137.4 in × 305.5 in, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain

In two minutes I will tell you the story of the father of Cubism, his Guernica and his strange friendship with Modì.

Irascible, superb, brilliant: when it comes to painting, one cannot help but think of Pablo Picasso, capable with his works of leaving a historical mark on the art of the twentieth century . Its name is linked to the birth of Cubism , a fundamental current in the art of the twentieth century . In fact, there are those who say that it is precisely his work Les Demoisell es d’Avignon that marks the beginning.

But Picasso is remembered above all for Guernica, a colossal painting (349 × 776 cm) capable of summarizing the torture of war and the artist’s firm opposition to totalitarian regimes in a single work.

I will tell you about this, about his bohemian life in Paris, about his friendship with Modigliani and his young lovers. I’ll do it as always, in two minutes (of art).


Pablo Picasso, in the January 1962
Pablo Picasso, in the January of 1962

Who is Pablo Picasso?

1. Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (Malaga, 1881 – Mougins , 1973), painter and sculptor, is considered one of the most important artists of the twentieth century. The surname “Picasso” with which he went down in history is linked to that of his mother (Maria Picasso y Lopez).

2. Tireless painter (the Guinness Worlds Records considers him the most prolific of all time), he was immediately recognized (and paid) as one of the most important artists of his time. His paintings today are among the most expensive in the world. Le Reve, for example, was sold in March 2013 for $ 155 million.

Picasso, Le Rêve (The Dream), 1932, oil on canvas, 51 in × 38 in, Private collection of Steven A. Cohen

3. Picasso was a son of art. It was his father, Jose Ruiz Blasco, artist and professor of drawing, who introduced him to the world of visual arts from the age of seven.

Picasso and the city of Paris

4. At nineteen, Picasso decided to leave Spain to go to Paris and live among the bohemian artists of Montmartre and Montparnasse . Earlier divides is the room with the poet and painter Max Jacob. The room seems to have only one bed, so one of them took turns resting during the day, the other at night.

5. When the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911, the name of Picasso also ended up in the list of suspects, because of his friend the poet Guillaume Apollinaire who, being taken to the police station for questioning, mentioned the name of his artist friend. They were both taken to the barracks and then released after a few hours . The work was recovered two years later, in 1913, it was stolen by an Italian: Vincenzo Peruggia.

Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907, Oil on canvas, 96 in × 92 in, 6 in × 92 in, Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Picasso and Modigliani

6. In addition to Apollinaire, Picasso became friends in Paris with the painters Marc Chagall and Amedeo Modigliani.

There was a strange relationship with Modì (Modigliani’s nickname). The two respects compartment and considered themselves friends but at the same time between them hatching goes a rivalry that in some cases manifests itself goes quite explicitly, like the time in which Picasso used work by Modigliani as a canvas on which to paint. Picasso later claimed that he did so out of a fatal distraction, caused by the creative drive. Should we believe him?

This rivalry is told very carefully (and perhaps too much “poetic license”) in the film Modigliani, from 2004.

Picasso and Cubism

7. Picasso’s name is mainly linked to the artistic movement of Cubism, but his production is vast and ranges in numerous styles, often very different from each other.

For convenience, his long-lived career is usually divided (for simplification) into four “periods”, differing in influences and themes: the melancholy “blue period“, the “rose period“, “the African art and primitivism period” and the “cubism period“.

Picasso, Retrato de Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), 1910, Oil on canvas, 39.5 in × 28.5 in, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

His masterpiece: Guernica

8. His most famous work is probably the colossal Guernica, considered one of the masterpieces of the twentieth century. It represents the aftermath of the Luftwaffe bombing on the small town of Guernica, during the Spanish Civil War.

When the Nazi ambassador Otto Abetz went into Picasso’s atelier in Paris, he watch at the painting and asked:”Did you do this?”, Picasso laconically replied: “No, you did all this!”

Picasso, Guernica, 1937, oil on canvas, 137.4 in × 305.5 in, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain

Picasso and women

9. In addition to his works, Picasso is famous for his lifestyle and his sentimental adventures.

Apart from the “stable” relationships with the dancer Ol’ga Chochlova , with the very young Marie-Thérèse Walter, with the photographer Dora Maar or the student Françoise Gilot , Picasso had many lovers, often very young, including important Italian noblewomen.

10. Picasso suffered from dyslexia and peniaphobia (fear of becoming poor). Apparently he didn’t have a good character.

Picasso, Portrait de Dora Maar, 1937, oil on canvas, 36 in × 26 in, Musée Picasso, Paris

“Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.”

Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973

Published by Marco Lovisco

Journalist, communication specialist and writer.

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