Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

A creative force of nature whose name is more or less singularly synonymous with 20th century artistic history, Pablo Picasso was a visionary and a genius in the most meaningful sense of those words. Born in 1881 Málaga, Spain to a middle-class father who painted, taught, and worked as a curator, Pablo Picasso was also of mildly aristocratic heritage, though this appears to have had scant little impact upon his upbringing and later life.

Interestingly (though perhaps not inexplicably, given his parentage), Picasso would show an early aptitude for creative expression. Prior even to the close instruction he would receive from his skilled father, Pablo Picasso is known to have produced excellent pencil illustrations, which themselves suggested a strong command of artistic fundamentals and a budding instinct for inventive use of space and lines.

This prowess would be built upon generously by his father, who seems to have taken quite seriously his son’s education and creative evolution.

Heavily devoted to the core principles of artistic creation, Picasso’s father encouraged a close and governing awareness of works produced by the profession’s forebears. Thus, in accordance with his father’s insistence upon paying tribute to earlier masters, young Picasso would produce many an oil painting copy of artistic precedents throughout those years spent under his father’s esteemed tutelage.

Tragedy within the family resulted in a major move, as is so often the case with tragedy. The death of Picasso’s sister, whose bout with diphtheria took her at age seven, saw Picasso’s family re-locate to Barcelona, a much more cosmopolitan and sophisticated city than the one from which they came. In Barcelona, despite those unfortunate circumstances which prompted the re-settling, Picasso appears to have laid down roots of a more enduring nature. For all intents and purposes, Barcelona would become Picasso’s home.

Occasional clashes with his similarly strong-willed father would result in yet another significant move for the still young (but now undeniably gifted) Picasso, who left, at age 16, his adoptive home of Barcelona for the Royal Academy of San Fernando. Located 400 miles west of his beloved Barcelona, the Royal Academy is a creative-intellectual fixture within the cultural construct of Madrid. Despite the distance this placed between Picasso and his mildly domineering father, the young genius was not overly compatible with the structured discipline required of intensive academic life; his education would indeed be furthered during his time in Madrid, though not in the regimented manner of a dedicated student.

Pablo Picasso Artwork

The many works of Pablo Picasso, a man whose career spanned over three-quarters of a century, are necessarily organized into various chapters, each given to particular aesthetic properties and betraying a prevailing mentality within the artist’s sensitive mind. Influences which had imprinted themselves upon Picasso’s mental canvas during his time in Madrid would coalesce with a spell of depression early in his career, resulting in the famous Blue Period which yielded some of his most recognizable and cherished works.

But the cultural currency and easily recognizable nature of the works stemming from this period should not misrepresent nor overly simplify the man’s paramount career. Countless life chapters would follow, as this phase materialized fairly early in Picasso’s career and would prove quite distinctive from much else which he would produce across the decades.

Cubism, sculpture, and a wide-array of painting styles would populate and punctuate Picasso’s lengthy career, while various cultural influences both from within and beyond European borders served to vitalize a creative spirit which seemed to draw from limitless reserves of artistic ingenuity. So long and enduring was Picasso’s professional career, in fact, that estimates on his total production output are placed in the tens of thousands.

Countless Picasso prints are readily accessible to the public at large, and demand is strong, which stands as testament to the artist’s enduring legacy. Such an immense material legacy is difficult to fathom, much less to pigeonhole into a few overarching aesthetic styles; Picasso was simply too dynamic a creator for any such narrow interpretation to be deemed valid.

It is nigh impossible to overstate the significance of Pablo Picasso’s place within the pantheon of 20th century artistic titans. The early signs of genius, the rigid education, the willingness to suffer (he endured years of arguably self-imposed poverty), the ability to channel raw human emotion into his every work—these are the components of an awe-inspiring creative force. Added to this is a career both unusually long and legendary in its own time.

Few creative souls so blessed a confluence of factors. What bears recognition is the extent to which Picasso maximized his talents in a sustained and perennially celebrated fashion.