Monday, October 25, 2010

In Memoriam: Pablo Picasso

Born on this day in 1881 in Málaga, Spain, from an early age Pablo Picasso would show the copious talent that would make him among the most famous and recognizable visual artists of the 20th Century... The son of an art teacher, Picasso was drawing almost before he could speak; in fact, his first word was 'pencil'.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAlthough he was born in Spain, Picasso is more often associated with Paris, where he moved in 1900. Thereafter he divided his time (when not globe-trotting) between that city and Barcelona, where today the Museu Picasso contains the best collection of his works, including some from as early as 1889.

Desperately poor upon moving to France (sometimes even having to burn his own work to keep himself and his roommate Max Jacob warm), within a decade he had found himself a place in the salon of Gertrude Stein, who early on gave him encouragement (buying up and therefore rescuing many of those early, flammable works for her home at 27 rue de Fleurus). She also introduced him to people who could help his career, which they did.

There were times, though, when it seemed his scandalously bohemian life would overtake his reputation as an artist; with a deft sense of his own persona, he managed to intersperse the outrages of his private love life with very public awe at his prodigious output, continually reinventing himself in the process. Whichever direction he took, the art world inevitably followed him, from realism to symbolism, then from cubism (of which he is the co-founder, alongside his friend Georges Braque) to neoclassicism and finally surrealism.

His masterwork remains Guernica (1937), which brilliantly depicts the devastation of that town wrought by Luftwaffe bombers on April 26th of that year, at the height of the Spanish Civil War.
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