"No painter or sculptor, not even Michelangelo, had been as famous as this in his own lifetime." -Robert Hughes

Pablo Picasso was known to be the most influential artist of the 20th century. He changed the way people viewed the art world. Picasso was best recognized for the creation of Cubism, an art style in which paintings were drawn through many perspectives using geometric shapes. He was great at expressing his feelings and emotions through his work of art, especially during his Blue Period. Picasso left a legacy that has impacted the modernized art world.

Personal Background

On October 25, 1881, Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain to Don José Ruiz Blasco and Doña Maria Picasso y Lopez (Moffat). He was the oldest out of his two other siblings, Dolorés and Conchita. His father, who was also a painter, taught at the school of Fine Arts and Crafts in their hometown. The poor family lived in Malaga for ten years, but once his father “was offered a better-paid job, he accepted it…and the Picassos moved to…La Coruna…for the next four years” (Moffat). In 1892, Picasso enrolled in the School of Fine Arts, where his father taught him how to paint. By the age of 13, Picasso had developed more skills than his father, which resulted in his father swearing to quit art and handing over his painting tools to his son (Greenspan). Then in 1895, the Picassos settled in Barcelona after Picasso’s father received “a professorship at ‘La Lonja’, the School of Fine Arts” (Moffat). A year later, Pablo’s first painting, “The First Communion” was shown in an exhibition there (Moffat). His second painting, “Science and Charity” (1897) awarding him with a gold medal from a competition back at Malaga (Moffat). Picasso received money from his uncle to study more in Madrid, but the trip in Madrid ended shortly due to Pablo catching scarlet fever. He returned to Barcelona to recover and later came back home by spring of 1899 (Moffat).

In 1901, Picasso began his famous Blue Period in which his palette consisted of shades of blue and his paintings focused on negative subjects such as “outcasts, beggars, and prostitutes” (Hoving). During this period, Picasso becomes depressed due to the suicide of his close friend, Casagemas, who is a Spanish poet. Casagemas “shot himself in a Parisian café because a girl he loved had refused him” (Moffat). In memory of Casagemas, Picasso painted “La Vie” (1903), which was “the most poignant work [during the Blue Period]” according to Hoving.

In 1904, Picasso moved to Paris and stayed at Bateau-Lavoir, a famous building where he lived amongst artists such as Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob (Voorhies). In Paris, Pablo experienced his Rose Period. He met a model named “Fernande Olivier, who [becomes] his mistress for the next seven years” (Moffat). Picasso proposed to her even though she was already married, but Olivier refuses. Pablo and Olivier would visit Circus Medrano frequently. He gained inspiration from the circus. In his paintings, his subjects were circus actors, harlequins, and acrobats (Moffat). During this period, his “palette brightened, the paintings dominated by pinks and beiges, light blues, and roses” (Hoving). Picasso’s most famous work from the Rose Period and of all time was “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907). According to Jesse Greenspan, the painting “opened the door for Cubism”.

In 1907, Pablo Picasso invented Cubism, an art style “that reduces subjects to geometric forms” (Hughes). Cubism changed the art world. Not many people know this, but Picasso’s close friend, artist Georges Braque, co-invented it. Braque’s paintings “appear remarkably similar to [Picasso]” (Greenspan). They seemed to have shared same art styles and techniques, so “the two painters came together to explore the possibilities of cubism” (Moffat). Picasso and Braque collaborated “until 1914, when Braque enlisted in the French army at the beginning of World War I” (Greenspan). When World War I (1914-1918) ended, Picasso went back to using “traditional styles, experimenting less with Cubism” (Voorhies).

In 1936, the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War made Picasso deeply distraught (Voorhies). He was asked “to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition” and agreed to do so (Moffat). He put all of his emotions and feelings of the tragedy in Guernica into the mural. According to Charles Moffat, “Guernica” “remained part of the collective consciousness of the twentieth century”.

In the 1940s, “Picasso’s creative energy never waned” (Voorhies). After World War II, Picasso joined the French Communist Party at the age 62 (Greenspan). He even made a portrait of Joseph Stalin, which was later condemned by French Communists. Picasso continued to paint and experiment with art. His works were being sold and shown at exhibits and museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Voorhies).

Pablo Picasso died at the age 92 in 1973. In his eighties and nineties, he “produced an enormous number of works, [amassed] a personal fortune, and a superb collection of his own art” (Voorhies). Picasso’s legacy continues to spread throughout the art world.

Personality Traits

Pablo Picasso was claimed to be a child prodigy. According to Jesse Greenspan, he "could supposedly draw before talk." As a teenager, Picasso already had more advanced art skills than his father, who was an art teacher. He grew up to be an expatriate, a person that does not live in his native country (Greenspan). Picasso constantly moved from Spain to France and back, but eventually resided in France most of his life. In addition, he was the master of self-promotion. Picasso enjoyed talking, which benefitted his self-promotion (Esaak). As he aged, he "preoccupied himself with [many] mistresses and girlfriends" (Hoving). He also became a communist because he believed they were "the bravest in France" (Esaak). In the French Communist Party, he found "the greatest thinkers, the greatest poets and all the faces of the resistance fighters" (Greenspan). Picasso considered the party to be a fatherland (Esaak). Pablo Picasso's personality helped him become a unique artist. His ability to self promote enabled him to be known.


Pablo Picasso faced some obstacles throughout his life. One of his obstacles was his Blue Period that began from late 1901 to 1904 (Voorhies). It started when Picasso found out that his friend, Casagemas, had committed suicide. Casagemas's death greatly affected him. For example, his palette consisted of different shades of blue. The color blue symbolized "poverty, loneliness, and despair" (Voorhies). Also, Picasso's paintings included "outcasts, beggars, and prostitutes" (Hoving). Picasso's work from the Blue Period depicted his emotions of his lost friend. Another important obstacle was the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Picasso was deeply distraught about it because at that time, he lived in Paris and was worried for his native country. During the war, Picasso was asked to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition (Moffat). He accepted this huge assignment, and it took him a while to come up with an idea of what to paint. At first, he planned to portray "a painter in the studio", but later decided to express his thoughts and feelings toward the Spanish Civil War after hearing about the events in Guernica, Spain (Moffat). The mural, Guernica, was one of Picasso's famous works. Although Picasso faced some difficulties, he gained inspiration for his work, which led him to become known.

guernica3.jpgHistorical Significance

Pablo Picasso became widely known for his artistic abilities. He gained popularity mostly from his creation of Cubism. Cubism is an art style in which three-dimensional forms were used to create :flat areas of pattern and color, overlapping and intertwining so that shapes and parts of the human anatomy are seen from the front and back at the same time" (Hoving). Although Picasso was credited for creating Cubism, his close friend, Georges Braque, was also the founder of it (Greenspan). They shared similar art styles so consequently, "to was hard for [them] to identify their own." Picasso and Braque "knew how profound their invention of Cubism was" (Hoving). He found inspiration from African sculptures and ethnographics. Eventually, he felt motivated to paint his first Cubist portrait in 1907, which was known as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (Moffat). This painting, without a doubt, was the beginning of Picasso's greatest works. In 1910, Picasso and Braque developed Analytical Cubism, which focused on a conceptual image rather than a perceptual one (Hoving). Picasso used this technique in Still Life with a Bottle of Rum. Another form of Cubism was Synthetic Cubism, which "[incorporated] the real world into the canvas". For example, Picasso used papier collie, a method of pasting paper onto his canvases. This technique can be seen in Bottle and Wine Glass on a Table (Voorhies). These forms of Cubism still remain as "the most influential art dialect off the early 20th century" (Hughes). In addition, Picasso was acknowledged for his Blue Period, which was caused but the suicide of his friend, Casagemas. During this time, Picasso experienced depression leading him to paint in shades of blue. These colors depicted his negativity. Although this was a time of personal despair, it allowed him to create some of his greatest art pieces. He produced one of his famous works, The Old Guitarist (Moffat). Furthermore, Picasso painted his popular mural called Guernica, which expressed "his own personal view of the tragedy" in Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. This piece of art "remained...[as] a forceful reminder of the event" (Moffat). Even today, his work is still well known and placed in high demand. when Picasso's paintings are auctioned off, people place high bids. In conclusion, Pablo Picasso left a huge, positive impact on modern art through his concepts and ideas.


Esaak, Shelley. “Artist Quotes: Pablo Picasso.” About. Web. 13 September 2014.
Greenspan, Jesse. “8 Things You May Not Know About Picasso.” History. 8 April 2013. Web. 11 December 2014.
Hoving, Thomas. “Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).” The Artchive. Web. 30 September 2014.
Hughes, Robert. “The Artist PABLO PICASSO.” TIME. 8 June 1998. Web. 26 October 2014.
Moffat, Charles. “Pablo Picasso.” Art History Archive. Web. 20 November 2014.
Voorhies, James. “Pablo Picasso(1881-1973).” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2000. Web 15 September 2014.