Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso and Fernand Mourlot
Picasso's Studio, 1950
From the Ateliers Mourlot Archives

"We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand."
Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)

Pablo Picasso is unquestionably the most famous artist of the 20th century. In his artistic life, lasting more than 75 years he created tens of thousands of works, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, original lithographs, etchings, linoleum cuts and ceramics. Not a single artist has had a greater influence on Modern Art and has changed art more profoundly in the 20th century. Picasso has been described as having lived several lifetimes artistically. He created Cubism (with George Braque) and continued thereafter to develop his art with a velocity that is comparable to the pace and dramatic change of the 20th century.

Born in Malaga on October 25, 1881, Picasso received his first drawing lessons from his father, a drawing teacher, at La Coruna in 1891. In 1895 the family moved to Barcelona, where young Pablo brilliantly passed the entry examination to the famous La Longa art school completing in a single day the one-month qualifying exam. His father was so overwhelmed by his son's abilities that he gave him his own brushes and proclaimed that he would never paint again.

In 1897 he exhibited drawings in a cafe called Els Quatre Gats, the artistic center of Barcelona. In 1899 he met Jaime Sabartes and did his first etching El Zurdo. The following year Picasso showed up in Paris for the first time, where he created and exhibited drawings. In 1901 he made drawings in Madrid and Paris and started to sign his works 'Picasso', his mother's maiden name. In 1904 he settled definitively in Paris, where he rented a studio in the "Bateau Lavoir". This is the period when he created his famous "Blue Period" works, prominent for their monochromatic tonality and somber content.

In 1907, Picasso created the painting that would become the symbol of modern art - "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon". Artists from all over the world made pilgrimages to see the work themselves. It led to Picasso's collaboration with Braque which lasted into the 1920s and created an art style known as Cubism.

The 1920's were important years in the development of Picasso's art and fame. He designed theater sets and painted in cubist, neo-classical, and surrealistic  styles. In 1937 the fascists horrified the world with the bombing of the civilian town of Guernica, Spain. Picasso was deeply affected by the carnage and responded by creating his other most notable masterpiece- "Guernica".

Picasso became one of the most important original printmakers of all time. He was never content to use any media in its purely traditional way, and he revolutionized many of the graphic media he explored. In 1905 he engraved Les Saltimbanques. In 1906 he started to produce  drypoints on celluloid and his first woodcuts. From 1909 to 1915 he produced Cubist prints, and from 1916 to 1920 he worked on prominent neoclassic etchings.

1919 was the year of his first lithographs; in 1927 he created the etching suite  for Balzac's Le Chef-d'Oeuvre Inconnu and in 1930 the etchings for Ovid's Metamorphoses. In 1933 he started to work on a set of one hundred copperplates for the famous French art dealer Ambroise Vollard (the so called Vollard Suite).

Picasso moved to lithography in November 1945, producing his first color works in that medium at the famous Mourlot atelier. Thus started his long time collaboration with the prominent French printmaker Fernand Mourlot.

In 1948 he produced a beautiful, very Spanish Gongora Suite. In 1949 Picasso created his famous lithograph entitled The Dove of Peace.

From 1953 to 1957 he worked on aquatints, line engravings and lithographs (the Jacqueline series), and in 1958 appeared his first color linocuts.

In 1968, from March 16 to October 5, three weeks before his 87th birthday, he created three hundred and forty-seven etchings, line engravings, drypoints, mezzotints and aquatints, known as the "347 Series".

Picasso died on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France at the age of 91.