Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Pablo PIcasso made the above self-portrait at the age of 90. The drawing is called Self Portrait Facing Death and was made in 1972. Mixing strength and vulnerability the image shows the introspective self trying to stare down death itself.

Pablo Picasso demonstrated a great artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th Century he experimented with various techniques and ideas and moved through various stylistic changes. He became one of the greatest and most well-known artists of the 20th Century.

After evolving through realism and developing his talent in the 1890s, Picasso entered his Blue Period around 1901. The paintings of this period are somber and depict austere compositions of gaunt mothers, prostitutes, and beggars. He also produced the etching The Frugal Repast (1904) which depicts a blind man and and a sighted women seated at a table. Blindness is a recurrent theme in this period.

The Rose Period started to happen around 1904, and is characterized by a more positive feeling with orange and pink colors, featuring acrobats and circus people. He also produced his famous portrait of Gertrude Stein in 1906, who was a major collector of his work.

Picasso became influenced by African artifacts and these forms started to find their way into his paintings starting with Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and pointed the way to his cubist period.

Along with George Braque, Picasso developed Analytic Cubism around 1909. They took apart objects and analyzed them in terms of shapes. Often elements of wallpaper and newspapers were pasted into the compositions creating collages.

In the period after the upheaval of WWI, Picasso changed his style again and produced work in a neoclassical style. He was also influenced by surrealism and turned to more harmonious colors and an overall biomorphic sensuality.

Picasso also produced works in various mediums and was constantly drawing. He made this portrait of Igor Stravinsky in 1920.

Picasso produced Guernica, one of his most political and powerful paintings in 1937.  The painting was his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. This large canvas expresses the inhumanity, brutality, and hopelessness of war. In 1951, he would create another strong political statement with Massacre In Korea.

Picasso continued to produce art all through his life, constantly changing his style yet still incorporating and morphing ideas that he had developed in earlier periods. He was interested in the human condition and created work that was both personal and political. While a skilled draftsman, he also pioneered abstraction, and approached his work with a child-like wonderment and intensity. He produced an amazing and diverse body of work that influenced all artists who followed.

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