Who Are They?

Who is Pablo Picasso?

Welcome to the experimental world of Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, ‘Composition’ 1948
Pablo Picasso
Composition 1948
Tate
© Succession Picasso/DACS 2017

Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous artists of the twentieth-century. Why? Because he was brilliant at drawing. Yeah people really loved his doodles. What do you think of the drawing above? Look at how he has used colour…how many colours can you see? What objects are in the picture?

Even as a child he was better at drawing than many adults. He could draw and paint just about anything, and in any style. He liked to experiment and try out new ideas, which is important if you are an artist, because the world is always changing. Picasso helped us see the world in new ways

Pablo Picasso, ‘Horse with a Youth in Blue’ 1905–6
Pablo Picasso
Horse with a Youth in Blue 1905–6
Tate
© Succession Picasso/DACS 2017
Pablo Picasso, ‘The Studio’ 1955
Pablo Picasso
The Studio 1955
Tate
© Succession Picasso/DACS 2017

Picasso was so experimental, and created so many different kinds of art that historians have divided his life and the art he made into stages. The Blue Period and the Rose Period came first (when he used lots of blue and pink to make paintings). These were followed by primitivism, cubism, classicism (when he created more traditional or classic artworks), surrealism, wartime and Late Works.

One of his most famous periods is the cubist period. The painting below is one of his cubist pictures. Cubism is when the artist paints an object, like a bottle, from lots of different angles all in the same picture. So you see the front, the back and the sides of the bottle at the same time! In a way, it’s a bit like having x-ray eyes

Pablo Picasso, ‘Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle’ 1914
Pablo Picasso
Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle 1914
Lent by the National Gallery 1997
© Succession Picasso/DACS 2017

Picasso was born in Malaga in Spain in 1881, but in 1904 when he was 23 he moved to Paris. This is because Paris was the capital of the avant-garde, which means cutting-edge and very cool. Picasso became friends with lots of artists and writers, like Georges Braque who he invented cubism with; and a writer called Gertrude Stein who collected art wrote a cubist book. He became interested in art from other continents too. You can see some of these influences in his paintings.

Look how expressive this artwork is!

Pablo Picasso, ‘The Three Dancers’ 1925
Pablo Picasso
The Three Dancers 1925
Tate
© Succession Picasso/DACS 2017

In 1937 the Spanish Civil War broke out. The picture below is called The Weeping Woman, and it was painted in protest to the bombing of a town called Guernica in Spain. The woman is crying but her face is all mixed up. This is because it is a cubist painting. If you look closely you can see that Picasso has painted both the front of the woman’s face and the side of her face. Hold your hand up to the picture and cover the left side of her face. Can you see that she is now in profile? Picasso was trying to show us what pain and unhappiness looks like. What do you feel when you look at this painting?

Pablo Picasso, ‘Weeping Woman’ 1937
Pablo Picasso
Weeping Woman 1937
Tate
© Succession Picasso/DACS 2017

But Picasso has also painted hope. The woman’s right ear has turned into a bird that is drinking her tears away and there is a pretty flower in her hat, showing us that new life is just around the corner.

What do you think of Pablo’s work? If you drew a portrait of your best friend in the style of Picasso, how would it look?

Pablo Picasso, ‘Portrait of a Woman after Cranach the Younger’ 1958
Pablo Picasso
Portrait of a Woman after Cranach the Younger 1958
Tate
© Succession Picasso/DACS 2017

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