Pablo Picasso became the greatest and most well-known artist of the 20th century. Primarily known for his contributions to modern art, Picasso worked in a number of different styles and in nearly every medium. During the course of his long life, Picasso created thousands of works of art and left behind a legacy in art that has yet to be matched.
Picasso came by his artistic leanings naturally. Born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain, Picasso was son of an art professor, José Ruiz Blasco, who taught art at the School of Arts and Crafts. He showed a natural talent for drawing at an early age, and the many outings to the local bullfights that he took with his father showed up in many of his paintings later in life. At 14, Picasso studied art at the School of Fine Art in La Coruña and then at Barcelona's School of Fine Arts and the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. By the turn of the century, Picasso was dividing his time between Paris and Barcelona and developed a circle of friends that included other artists, poets and writers.
Blue and Rose Periods
Picasso came into his own as an artist with the unveiling of his paintings done in shades of blue in the Blue Period. These canvases featured a primarily blue palette and themes such as death and poverty. One of the major works of this period, "The Death of Casagemas," dealt with the suicide of his good friend Carlos Casagemas, who took his own life when a love affair didn't work out. Other famous works in the Blue Period were his self-portrait and "La Vie" (Life). The Blue Period extended from 1901 to 1904. In 1904, Picasso shifted his palette and the somber themes and moved into what's known as the Rose Period. These works of art, which often featured acrobats, harlequins and families, were cheerier than the paintings done in the Blue Period. They also showed Picasso's experimentation with Expressionism and Classicism, giving insight into how Picasso combined these two very different styles in the same canvas.
Cubism marked a significant departure from the realistic figures that Picasso had painted throughout the early part of his career. Cubism saw Picasso breaking down people and objects into their most basic geometric shapes and featuring them from a variety of perspectives. Taking off from where Paul Cezanne had left off in his work and working closely with French painter Georges Braque, Picasso and Braque engaged in an artistic dialogue of sorts. Picasso unveiled the new direction of his work with the painting "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" in 1907. Cubism had two distinct periods---analytical Cubism and synthetic Cubism.
Picasso painted about the challenges of life and on occasion about politics. The best-known example of this is his painting "Guernica," which marked the bombing of the Spanish Basque town of Guernica by the Nazis on April 26th, 1937. It's done in a simplistic style and depicts the suffering of war through images of a dying horse, a bull and a distraught mother. Many scholars consider the painting to be the greatest work of the 20th century.
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