Pablo Picasso was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and stage designer born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. He is known as the most influential figure in 20th century art. He is also known for being a co-creator of Cubism alongside Georges Braque. Unlike most artists, Picasso found fame and fortune during his lifetime.
In the early 20th century, Picasso moved to Paris to open his own art studio. The first period of his career lasted from 1901 to 1904 and was called the “Blue Period”. This name was given because of the color blue that dominated his paintings during these years. During the Blue Period, a deeply depressed Picasso painted scenes of poverty, isolation and anguish. One of Picasso’s most famous paintings from the Blue Period is the “Blue Nude” (Figure 1) completed in 1903. The back perspective to the figure in the painting evokes a feeling of disengagement and rejection. This painting shows Picasso’s talent for evoking the deepest emotions using just one color.
The second period of his career lasted from 1904 to 1906 when his career was more prosperous and he had a more optimistic outlook on life. This was called the “Rose Period” because of the warmer colors, including beiges, pinks and reds found in his paintings. One of the most famous paintings from the Rose Period is “Gertrude Stein” (Figure 2) created in 1905-06. This was a portrait of Gertrude Stein, who was a patron of Picasso at the time. In this portrait, he reduces her body into parts, which could be a foreshadowing to his adoption of Cubism in later years. (“Gertrude Stein”).
In 1907, Picasso painted “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (Figure 3) which was “a chilling depiction of five nude prostitutes, abstracted and distorted with sharp geometric features and stark blotches of blues, greens and grays” (“Pablo Picasso Biography”). Today, this painting is considered to be the sole inspiration of Cubism. The distorted forms in these women’s bodies challenge the idealized representation of female beauty in the fine arts (“Les Demoiselles D’Avignon”).
“Gertrude Stein.” Metmuseum.org. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
“Les Demoiselles D’Avignon.” Modernism.research.yale.edu. Yale University, 2010. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
“Pablo Picasso Biography.” Biography.com. Ed. Biography.com Editors. A&E Television Networks, 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.