Undoubtedly one of the most well-known artists of all time, Pablo Picasso’s life had quite the influence on his art from beginning to end. It is believed he began to draw before he could even speak. His earliest surviving works date back to 1890 when the artist would have been just nine years old. Over the span of his life his craft would evolve drastically, and the changes always seemed to parallel with the changes in his life. From the death of a friend to a new muse, Picasso skillfully translated his life, and the world around him, into art.
In his early years, Picasso compares his art to that of the great High Renaissance classicism artist Raphael. He actually was not far off because his early works were much more real than any of his other pieces and more rooted in a classicism style. Kelly Richman-Abdou from My Modern Met stated that his early work, “developed a realist style characterized by naturalistic brushwork, a true-to-life color palette, and everyday subject matter.” When reading that, and thinking about his most popular works, anyone could believe that quote is describing a completely different artist; but Picasso’s ever changing style is what makes him such a master. He learned art from his parents who were both artists as well. His earlier works showed rapid improvement and an immense understanding of classical art fundamentals. He even had a great understanding of human anatomy which is something else one wouldn’t gather from his most popular masterpieces. It could be argued though that Picasso’s knowledge on the human form is what allows him to abstract it in the genius ways he did throughout his life. It could also be argued, by someone who is more of a classicism fan, that his work seemed to backtrack throughout his career. But that opinion doesn’t seem to be a popular one because it is those later abstracted pieces that give him such a household name.
In between Picasso’s realist and cubism styles, from 1901 to 1906 he went through Blue and Rose Periods. These stages in his career are heavily influenced by events in his life. His Blue Period is believed to be initiated by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. J.S Marcus from The Wall Street Journal stated that in the aftermath of his friends’ tragic death, “Picasso painted a series of depictions of his dead friend. These include ‘The Death of Casagemas,’ with a visible gunshot wound at the temple, and a bluer version… by 1902, the color blue, in all its variations, seemed to take hold of Picasso, becoming dominant in everything from self-portraits to Barcelona cityscapes.” It is clear in this stylistic shift that the death of Casagemas really affected Picasso, his subjects even transitioned to much more “down-and-out” and impoverished people. His Rose Period was initiated by quite the opposite feeling, love. Right before his Rose Period began Picasso met his first muse, Fernande Olivier. J.S Marcus said that, “Picasso’s love affair with Olivier ushered in a change in mood and palette. This new Rose Period, filled with earth tones as well as pink ones, coincided with a whole new subject – circus life – and a signature sexuality.” So Picasso’s mood and life events once again completely changed his style and subjects. It is widely known that Olivier was not his first or last muse; he even drew a lot of inspiration from his children. Picasso’s art visibly evolves with each change in muse and major event in his life, although the Blue and Rose Periods were two of the more extreme stylistic changes before cubism. These periods truly showcase how much he allowed his life experiences to change his work.
It almost seems by his late twenties that Picasso began to grow bored of realistic depictions. He was only a child when impressionist artists like Seurat and Gauguin started to push the limitations of art. As Picasso grew older he began to stray away from the conventions of realist art to also push the limitations of art as well. It is unknown if he changed because he was inspired by these pioneering artists or because of a life event but he managed to do so in a much bolder and riskier way that really paid off. Claudia Kalb from National Geographic stated that, “Picasso charged forward with the intensity of a fighting bull. With his 1907 painting ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,’ the artist upended traditional composition, perspective, and aesthetic appeal. The canvas’s depiction of five naked women at a brothel—their faces distorted, their bodies jagged—alarmed even Picasso’s closest friends. But the painting would become the cornerstone of a radical art movement, cubism, and vault to the top of the list of the most important paintings of the 20th century.” This sudden intensity could have been brought about by the fact that Picasso was actually pushing himself. He himself said that, “it took me four years to paint like Raphael but a lifetime to paint like a child,” so he believed that his more avant-garde styled art was more challenging than his earlier classical styled pieces. The action of fabricating a viewpoint of a subject from your own mind is the essence of abstract and it could definitely be argued that it is much simpler to paint what is right in front of you. While realism itself does have its own challenges, to create something that cannot be visibly seen takes a very unique creative mindset.
In the later years of his life, Picasso became very interested in engravings and etchings. He even had a machine put into his home so he could make the plates on his own. The etchings he made are considered to be some of the best examples of his proficiency with shadow and shading. Some of his more popular etchings are from his 347 series that he made just years before his death. He collaborated with master printers Piero and Aldo Crommelynck who helped him from Picasso’s own studio to create the 347 diversely themed plates. They range from models being painted to circus and theater depictions. It is obvious from his works that Picasso was indeed creative, but to also have been proficient in styles as technical as realism and etchings is what made him such a master and we have his life to thank for the variety of art he left for the world to enjoy.
Currently on display here at Baterby’s Art Gallery
Here at Baterby’s Art Gallery we have multiple Picasso pieces on display and for purchase for your collection. If you are a Picasso fan we also recommend viewing works by Ferjo who incorporates the popular works by Picasso and other famous artists. We have multiple of his pieces available as well so please visit www.baterbys.com for more details, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org / phone: 888-682-9995.
Author: Jessica Gerenger