Pablo Picasso (1881, Málaga - 1973, Mougins, France) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker and ceramicist considered one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century and the co-creator, along with Georges Braque, of the artistic movement Cubism. Considered radical in his work, Picasso continues to garner reverence for his technical mastery, visionary creativity and profound empathy. For nearly 80 of his 91 years, Picasso devoted himself to an artistic production that he superstitiously believed would keep him alive, contributing significantly to (and paralleling the entire development of) modern art in the 20th century. Pablo Picasso remains renowned for endlessly reinventing himself, switching between styles so radically different that his life's work seems to be the product of five or six great artists rather than just one. Of his penchant for style diversity, Picasso insisted that his varied work was not indicative of radical shifts throughout his career, but, rather, of his dedication to objectively evaluate for each piece the form and technique best suited to achieve his desired effect.
Art critics and historians typically break Pablo Picasso's adult career into distinct periods, the first of which lasted from 1901 to 1904 and is called his "Blue Period," after the color that dominated nearly all of his paintings over these years. At the turn of the 20th century, Picasso moved to Paris, France to open his own studio. Lonely and deeply depressed over the death of his close friend, Carlos Casagemas, he painted scenes of poverty, isolation and anguish, almost exclusively in shades of blue and green. By 1905, Picasso had largely overcome the depression that had previously debilitated him, and the artistic manifestation of Picasso's improved spirits was the introduction of warmer colors (including beiges, pinks and reds) in what is known as his "Rose Period" (1904-06).
In 1907, Picasso produced a painting that today is considered the precursor and inspiration of Cubism: "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon." Cubism was an artistic style pioneered by Pablo Picasso and his friend and fellow painter, Georges Braque. In Cubist paintings, objects are broken apart and reassembled in an abstracted form, highlighting their composite geometric shapes and depicting them from multiple, simultaneous viewpoints in order to create physics-defying, collage-like effects. At once destructive and creative, Cubism shocked, appalled and fascinated the art world. Picasso’s works between 1918 and 1927 are categorized as part of his "Classical Period," a brief return to Realism in a career otherwise dominated by experimentation. The outbreak of World War I ushered in the next great change in Picasso's art. He grew more somber and, once again, preoccupied with the depiction of reality.
In the aftermath of World War II, Picasso became more overtly political, joining the Communist Party. He was twice honored with the International Lenin Peace Prize, first in 1950 and again in 1961. By this point in his life, he was also an international celebrity, the world's most famous living artist. Picasso continued to create art and maintain an ambitious schedule in his later years, superstitiously believing that work would keep him alive.
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