Responsible for significant developments in painting, sculpture, printmaking and ceramics
Widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence; during the first decade of the 20th century his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His revolutionary artistic accomplishments brought him universal renown and immense fortune, making him one of the best-known figures in 20th century art.
In 1895, Picasso’s family moved to Barcelona – When Picasso is 10 years old, his family travels by boat to settle in La Coruna, Galicia, in Northern Spain, where they will spend 4 years where his father became a professor at the School of Fine Arts. The climate and atmosphere is very different from the South. In 1895, the family moved to Barcelona, Picasso thrived in the city, regarding it in times of sadness or nostalgia as his true home. His father persuaded the officials at the academy to allow his son to take an entrance exam for the advanced class. This process often took students a month, but Picasso completed it in a week, and the impressed jury admitted Picasso, who was 13. Picasso received formal artistic training from his father in figure drawing and oil painting.
Picasso’s father and uncle decided to send the young artist to Madrid’s Royal Academy of San Fernando, the country’s foremost art school. At age 16, Picasso set off for the first time on his own, Madrid, however, held many other attractions. The Prado housed paintings by Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and Francisco Zurbarán. Picasso especially admired the works of El Greco; elements like the elongated limbs, arresting colors, and mystical visages are echoed in Picasso’s later work.
Picasso made his first trip to Paris in 1900, then the art capital of Europe. These were times of severe poverty, cold, and desperation. Much of his work was burned to keep the small room warm. By 1905 Picasso became a favorite of the American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein. Gertrude Stein became Picasso’s principal patron, acquiring his drawings and paintings and exhibiting them in her informal Salon at her home in Paris. At one of her gatherings in 1905, he met Henri Matisse, who was to become a lifelong friend and rival. In 1907 Picasso joined an art gallery that had recently been opened in Paris by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.
Divided his time between Barcelona and Paris – During the Second World War, Picasso remained in Paris while the Germans occupied the city. Retreating to his studio, he continued to paint, producing works such as the Still Life with Guitar (1942) and The Charnel House (1944–48). Around this time, Picasso took up writing as an alternative outlet. Between 1935 and 1959 he wrote over 300 poems. Jacqueline Roque (1927–1986) worked at the Madoura Pottery in Vallauris on the French Riviera, where Picasso made and painted ceramics. The two were together for the remainder of Picasso’s life. Picasso had constructed a huge Gothic home, and could afford large villas in the south of France, at Notre-dame-de-vie on the outskirts of Mougins, and in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. He was an international celebrity, and there was often as much interest in his personal life as his art.
Pablo Picasso died on 8 April 1973 in Mougins, France, while he and his wife Jacqueline entertained friends for dinner. His final words were “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.” He was interred at the Chateau of Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, a property he had acquired in 1958 and occupied with Jacqueline between 1959 and 1962.
Picasso’s work – Picasso’s training under his father began before 1890. His progress can be traced in the collection of early works now held by the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, which provides one of the most comprehensive records extant of any major artist’s beginnings, features many of Picasso’s early works, created while he was living in Spain, including many rarely seen works which reveal Picasso’s firm grounding in classical techniques. The museum also holds many precise and detailed figure studies done in his youth under his father’s tutelage, as well as the extensive collection of Jaime Sabartés, Picasso’s close friend and personal secretary.
Picasso was exceptionally prolific throughout his long lifetime. The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000, comprising 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs. At the time of his death many of his paintings were in his possession. These works form the core of the immense and representative collection of the Musée Picasso in Paris.
Several paintings by Picasso rank among the most expensive in the world – Garçon à la pipe sold for US$104 million at Sotheby’s on 4 May 2004, establishing a new price record. Dora Maar au Chat sold for US$95.2 million at Sotheby’s on 3 May 2006. On 4 May 2010, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust was sold at Christie’s for $106.5 million. The collection as a whole was valued at over $150 million, while the work was originally expected to earn $80 million at auction. As of 2004, Picasso remains the top ranked artist (based on sales of his works at auctions) according to the Art Market Trends report. More of his paintings have been stolen than those by any other artist; the Art Loss Register has 550 of his works listed as missing.
The Studios of Pablo Picasso • Locations & Activities