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Pablo Picasso

( Originally Published 1936 )

Contemporary Spanish-French painter, graver and sculptor. The son of Basque parents, Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain, 23rd October 1881. He spent his youth in Barcelona, where his father was professor at the Academy of Arts. Young Pablo entered this school in 1896 and received his first lessons in art from his father. The following year he was enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Madrid, where he received a prize for draftsmanship. He visited Paris in 1900 and settled there in 1903, after having travelled through Spain. In Paris he immediately attracted attention for his wit, intelligence and fine artistic ability. Among his friends were Braque, Derain, van Dongen; Apollinaire, A. Salmon and Max Jacob were his sponsors. About 1908 the Stein family began to collect his paintings, this tradition being carried on by Gertrude Stein as well as Vollard. Picasso's work may be divided into several very definite periods: from 1895-1901, the Realistic Period, influenced by Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec and marked by carefully planned plastic arrangements and fine draftsmanship; 1901-1904, the Blue Period, rendering in a rather morbid and melancholy manner harlequins, circus dancers, etc., with the style still naturalistic and the colour almost monochromatic; 1905-1906, the Rose Period, somewhat reminiscent of the works of Cezanne and Van Gogh, painting of the Saltimbanques; 1907-1908, the Negro Period, when Picasso was beginning to be influenced by the Fauvist doctrines gradually leading to his cubist formulae. Thepaintings were done in delicate browns and greys, displaying constructive design and representing mainly the human figure. From 1909 to 1914 was the period of cubism, during which period the artist did not render form but tried to achieve it by painting those simple geometric shapes which, when combined, constituted the body to be interpreted. Creating form in this manner the artist has to discard resemblance and work with abstractions; he must be acquainted with the simultaneous rendering of surfaces and functional line and colour. Picasso also combined pieces of wood, sand and other matter with the oils. In 1917 he joined Diaghilev and his Ballet Russe in Rome; he travelled with them and designed the decors for the Three Cornered Hat, Pulcinella and other ballets. After 1918 Picasso returned to natural form and to classical painting, due to the influence that antique sculpture had on him in Rome. This new phase was preceded by a period of sketching and gradually lead up to the ensuing extremely plastic and gigantic paintings. Besides being the founder of cubism together with Braque, some consider Picasso the only great modern innovator besides Cezanne. Among his illustrations are those for Salmon's book: Le Manuscrit Trouve Dans Un Chapeau. His best-known portraits include those of Stravinsky, Cocteau, Jacob and others. Picasso is represented in the museums of Berlin, Barcelona, Moscow, Dresden, New York, and the private collections of Paul Rosenberg, Paris, and Reber, Lausanne.

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