The Spanish artist Pablo Picasso was one of the most influential artistic figures of the 20th century. He was a controversial figure with a complicated love life, all adding to the fascination of the man. Today, he is still remembered in exhibitions around the world and Picasso painting prints are in constant demand. It was a very long career and he painted into old age, dying at 91 years old.
The artist went through many distinct styles and was not content to simply re-produce himself. It’s possible to like one phase and dislike another and a Picasso painting means different things to different people. He liked to push the boundaries in relation to color and form and he was also a very accomplished sculptor. His enthusiasm for experimenting inspired following generations of artists.
The early period known as the Blue Period is still popular and many prints from this time are sold. It shows the artist in melancholy mood, with the use of dark, moody colors. The subject matter was generally downbeat and included tramps, prostitutes and drunkards. The most famous Picasso painting from this time is probably The Old Guitarist, which shows a gaunt, elderly man cradling a guitar.
The Rose Period followed, so called because of the use of pink and orange hues. This was an upbeat turn from Picasso and harlequins and circus performers and clowns were frequent subjects. The most successful painting of his career, in financial terms was from this period and the title is Boy with a Pipe. Picasso was one of the first artists to be influenced by African art, namely early sculpture from the continent. He held it in high regard and the result of his interest was one of his most well known paintings, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. He began to look at the human figure, especially the female form in a new light.
This phase led to his most controversial period when he and fellow artist, Georges Braque developed Cubism. It shocked critics and the public but the artists persevered. A typical Cubist Picasso painting takes an image, breaks it up into its individual components and puts it back together again. The result is either jarring or fascinating, depending on your point of view.
The most celebrated painting is Guernica, painted as a commemoration of the victims of the Nazi German bombing of the Spanish town during the Spanish Civil War. It is a very disturbing painting, accurately capturing the suffering endured. It has been universally praised and a copy hangs in the United Nations building in New York City.