It’s a fair to assume you will already have heard of Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. You might not know all of his middle names, but you can be forgiven that.
A Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, he was undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. Widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement and for the variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937), a portrayal of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
The enormous body of Picasso’s work remains, and the legend lives on—a tribute to the vitality of the “disquieting” Spaniard with the “sombre…piercing” eyes who superstitiously believed that work would keep him alive. For nearly 80 of his 91 years Picasso devoted himself to an artistic production that contributed significantly to and paralleled the whole development of modern art in the 20th century.
Picasso’s art from the time of the Demoiselles was radical in nature, virtually no 20th-century artist could escape his influence.
Moreover, while other masters such as Matisse or Braque tended to stay within the bounds of a style they had developed in their youth, Picasso continued to be an innovator into the last decade of his life. This led to misunderstanding and criticism both in his lifetime and since, and it was only in the 1980s that his last paintings began to be appreciated both in themselves and for their profound influence on the rising generation of young painters. Since Picasso was able from the 1920s to sell works at very high prices, he could keep most of his oeuvre in his own collection.
At the time of his death (1973) he owned some 50,000 works in various media from every period of his career, which passed into possession of the French state and his heirs. Their exhibition and publication has served to reinforce the highest estimates of Picasso’s astonishing powers of invention and execution over a span of more than 80 years.
There’s loads of stuff on his actual art here – http://www.picasso.com/ – and a nice little biog here – http://www.biography.com/people/pablo-picasso-9440021 – but before you disappear I hope you’ll enjoy some of his quotes:
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What is a face, really? Its own photo? Its make-up? Or is it a face as painted by such or such painter? That which is in front? Inside? Behind? And the rest? Doesn’t everyone look at himself in his own particular way? Deformations simply do not exist.
Action is the foundational key to all success.
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought.
Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?
Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs.
The older you get the stronger the wind gets – and it’s always in your face.
The people who make art their business are mostly imposters.
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
Art is a lie that makes us realise truth.
Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.
Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.
Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
Disciples be damned. It’s not interesting. It’s only the masters that matter. Those who create.
Everything you can imagine is real.
I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.
Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.
Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.
God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.
One must act in painting as in life, directly.
Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law.
I do not seek. I find.
The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.
I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.
The genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.
I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.
The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is, the less there is.
When you start with a portrait and search for a pure form, a clear volume, through successive eliminations, you arrive inevitably at the egg. Likewise, starting with the egg and following the same process in reverse, one finishes with the portrait.
Why do two colours, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.
Work is a necessity for man. Man invented the alarm clock.
You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea.
You mustn’t always believe what I say. Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer.
If there were only one truth, you couldn’t paint a hundred canvases on the same theme.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.
Is there anything more dangerous than sympathetic understanding?
Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.
Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.
The chief enemy of creativity is “good” sense.
Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.
Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one’s bath like a lump of sugar.
The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?
There are only two types of women – goddesses and doormats.
There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
They ought to put out the eyes of painters as they do goldfinches in order that they can sing better.
To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic.
To draw you must close your eyes and sing.
To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture.
To make oneself hated is more difficult than to make oneself loved.
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.
We don’t grow older, we grow riper.
We must not discriminate between things. Where things are concerned there are no class distinctions. We must pick out what is good for us where we can find it.
Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.
Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.
Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.
It takes a long time to become young.
It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
Love is the greatest refreshment in life.
My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.
Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.
One does a whole painting for one peach and people think just the opposite – that particular peach is but a detail.
If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes.