Pablo Picasso, formally Pablo Ruiz Picasso, was one of the recognized masters of 20th century art.
Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain, and is probably most famous as the founder, along with Georges Braque, of Cubism. However, in a long life he produced a wide and varied body of work, the best-known being the Blue Period works which feature moving depictions of acrobats, harlequins, prostitutes, beggars and artists.
While Picasso was primarily a painter (in fact he believed that an artist must paint in order to be considered a true artist), he also worked with small ceramic and bronze sculptures, collage and even produced some poetry. "Je suis aussi un poete," as he quipped to his friends.
Several paintings by Picasso rank among the most expensive paintings in the world. On May 4, 2004 Picasso's painting Garcon a la Pipe was sold for USD $104 million at Sotheby's, thus establishing a new price record (see also List of most expensive paintings).
Picasso's most famous work is probably his depiction of the German bombing of Guernica, Spain; the Guernica (painting). This large canvas embodies for many the inhumanity, brutality and hopelessness of war. The painting of the picture was captured in a series of photographs by Picasso's most famous lover, Dora Maar, a distinguished artist in her own right.
As certain works, for example the Cubist pieces, tend to be associated in the public mind with Picasso, it is important to realize how talented Picasso was as a painter and draughtsman. He was capable of working with oils, watercolours, pastels, charcoal, pencil, ink, or indeed any medium with equally high facility. With his most extreme cubist works he came close to deconstructing a complex scene into just a few geometric shapes while at the same time being capable of photo-realistic pen and ink sketches of his friends. Picasso had a massive talent for almost any artistic endeavor he turned his mind to, despite limited formal academic training (he finished only one year of his course of study at the Royal Academy in Madrid), and a ferocious work-ethic.
Picasso's father, Jose Ruiz y Blasco, was himself a painter and for most of his life was a professor of art at Spanish colleges. It is from Don Jose that Picasso learned the basics of formal academic art training – figure drawing, and painting in oil. Although Picasso attended art schools thoughout his childhood, often those his father taught at, he never finished his college level course of study at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, leaving after less than a year.
Picasso had a long string of lovers, four children by three women, and two wives. Picasso frequented brothels throughout his life, and also had numerous affairs.
In 1918 Picasso married Olga Koklova, a ballerina with Sergei Diaghilev's troupe. The two had a son, Paulo, who would grow up to be a sometime motorcycle racer, sometime chauffeur to his father, and dissolute.
In 1927 Picasso met the then underage (17) Marie Therese Walter, and began a secret affair with her. Picasso's marriage to Olga soon ended in separation but the two remained legally married until Olga's death in 1955.
Picasso carried on a long standing affair with Marie Therese, and fathered a daughter, Maya, with her. Marie Therese lived in the vain hope that Picasso would one day marry her, and eventually hanged herself after Picasso's death.
The photographer and painter Dora Maar was also a constant companion and lover of Picasso. It was Dora who documented the painting of Guernica.
After the liberation of Paris in 1944, Picasso began to keep company with a young art student, Francoise Gilot. The two eventually became lovers, and had two children together, Claude, and Paloma. Uniquely among Picasso's women, Francoise eventually left Picasso in 1953 because of his abusive treatment, and infidelities.
Picasso was not long in finding another lover, Jacqueline Roque. Jacqueline worked at the Madoura Pottery, where Picasso made and painted ceramics. The two remained together for the rest of Picasso's life, marrying in 1961.
In his 80s and 90s, Picasso, no longer quite the energetic dynamo he had been in his youth, became more and more reclusive.
At the time of his death, Picasso, by now a multi-millionaire, owned a vast quantity of his own work. These works form the core of the immense, and representative collection of the Musee Picasso in Paris.
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