Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pablo Picasso

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).

  Let’s pretend this is a real art exhibition. I promised I would write a post on Picasso’s art and life and here it is. It is not easy to write about an artist who created more than 25,000 works. Why did I choose to write it? I was impressed by the variety of his work and the changes of his style over time.
  Picasso was not afraid of experimenting and trying new things.
 "I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it," he said.
   Picasso was not just a painter. He was also a sculptor, a ceramicist, a printmaker and a stage designer. His  vast, diverse artwork is intricately related to his personal life and his historical context. 
  Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain. He discovered his passion at a very early age. When he was sixteen he moved to Madrid to study art at the Academia of San Fernando. He dropped out soon after he started, but his devotion to drawing and painting did not dwindle. He continued visiting museums and working on his craft.
  Before he migrated to Paris he lived in Barcelona, where he met other artists at the Els Quatre Gats Café. One of his friends was Carlos Casagemas with whom he traveled to Paris in 1900 to attend an exhibition that included one of his paintings.
 In 1901 his friend Carlos Casagemas committed suicide. He shot himself in a Parisian Café after he was rejected by a woman he fell in love with. The death of his friend set the beginning of the “blue period”.
        
 This blue period (1901-1904) is a time of profound melancholy and sorrow in Picasso’s life. Blue hues dominate the scenes. Most of his paintings during this period were done in shades of blue and blue-green.
      
The last painting of this period is called “Life”. Picasso portrays his friend Casagemas with a lover. A mother with a child are also present. In this painting he expressed his wish of happiness  for his deceased friend.
   The blue period is followed by the rose period (1905-1907). Orange and pink were the colors that prevailed during this time. His artwork was lighthearted and cheerful. He drew and painted figures, clowns, harlequins, jesters and all kinds of circus performers.

     In 1907 he painted Les Demoiselles d' Avignon (The Young Women of Avignon) and this was the starting point of a new era that permeated not just the arts, but also literature, music and architecture. The young women of Avignon is an 8 feet square canvas in which the brush-strokes are violent and the figures are contorted. Picasso broke the conventional rules of space and perspective.

    Breton, the leader of the surrealists, saw in it the revolutionary menace of the unconscious mind. Critics and historians were convinced that African art exhibited at the Musee d’ Ethographie du Trocadero in Paris had influenced Picasso, but he denied this. Europeans viewed African art as a symbol of savagery. Picasso, on the other hand, considered this idea of savagery as a source of vitality and energy that he applied to his own work. Picasso called this painting his “first exorcism picture”. The importance of this painting lies in the fact that it paved the way to cubism.




               Picasso and his friend Georges Braque were the pioneers of cubism (1907-1920). Cubism was a new art movement in Paris that refused to accept the traditional techniques of perspective. Objects were dissected into geometric forms. The motifs were still lives, musical instruments, bottles, pitchers, glasses, newspapers, playing cards, the human face and figure.

  Their approach was adopted and further developed by other painters (Fernand Leger, Juan Gris, Marcel Duchamp, Jeam Metzinger, and others). Cubism  led to abstract paintings, but Picasso never produced purely abstract paintings. Reality was always present in his artwork, even though he recreated it through his own personal style.





















After cubism Picasso returned to more traditional patterns. This is the Classicist period. He drew portraits of dancers and fell in love with one:  Olga Koklova. He married her and they had a son. With the birth of their son Paolo in 1921 he began to focus on the Mother and Child theme.
       
                    This is a portrait of Francoise Gilot with whom he had two kids: Claude (1947) and Paloma (1949). Paloma is the Spanish word for dove. Her name was related to the dove of peace that Picasso painted in support of the peace movement post world war II.
 
  Frustrated with Picasso’s infidelities and his abusive nature, Gilot left him. She later married American-physician researcher Jonas Salk. Gilot wrote a book called “Life with Picasso”, which was published eleven years after their separation.
   Bulls and  Minotaurs are recurrent elements in his artwork and may have symbolized  Picasso's passionate nature.   He could be kind and affectionate, but he could also turn into  a  tyrannical, selfish and domineering man, a kind of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality.
   
 The Minotaur also heralded the onset of new political unrest in Europe. Spain would be ravaged by civil war. This is the time when he painted Guernica. I wrote about it here.









Another theme that haunted Picasso  is the relationship between the artist and his model, an obsession that he expressed repeatedly in his drawings and paintings.
 In 1951 Picasso said to the writer Giovani Papini, ""Today, as you know, I am famous, I am rich. But when I am alone with myself, I haven't the courage to consider myself an artist in the ancient sense of the word. Great painters are people like Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, Goya. I am only a public entertainer who has understood the times and has exploited as best he could the imbecility, the vanity and the greed of his contemporaries. Mine is a bitter confession, more painful than might seem, but it has the merit of being sincere."

 In 1961 he married his last wife, Jaqueline Rogue, with whom he shared the last  twelve years of his life. During those years he had an  outburst of creativity and painted compulsively. He continued to be obsessed with the theme of the female muse and the artist. His work was charged with eroticism. It might have been the expression of his unconscious mind striving to cling to life against all odds.
    He died in 1973 at age 91.

















25 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this post on Picasso. Good job.

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    1. Thanks, Rick. I'm glad you enjoyed the exhibition.

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  2. I have always found Picasso to be quite interesting. Thanks for this post letting us learn more about him :)

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  3. A fine synopsis of the creations of a talented man who aspired to a long life. I've always found his life interesting. Thank you for giving us this post.

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    1. You are welcome, Manzanita. Thank you for visiting.

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  4. Love the quote: Everything you can imagine is real. I'm finding this true in my own art work.

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  5. You are a talented writer, Julia. I enjoyed glimpses of Picasso's works.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Nellie. I'm glad you enjoyed this little virtual exhibition.

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  6. Wow, I've actually learned so much from this post. At first I didn't think I would be interested but as I read on it was so interesting I had to read to the end. I mean, when I now see one of those paintings I can clearly see the blue period or rose period, cubism and much more. Thanks Julia, you honestly done a good job with this post and educated me in an area I didn't know much about. I look forward to learning more from you.

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    1. Rum-Punch, I'm delighted to know I sparked your interest in art. Art is nourishment for the soul. I hope you will continue to have fun with my posts. Best wishes,
      Julie

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  7. Hi-ya. Nice to meet you, Julia. I wandered over here from Keith's blog. (Our Optimistic Existentialist... don't you just LOVE the thoughtful questions he poses?)

    I really enjoyed this post. I've always appreciated Picasso's work, especially the paintings from his blue period, but didn't know enough about him to understand how it correlated to what was going on in his life. Thanks for filling in the blanks.

    Count me in as your newest groupie. As Schwartzeneggar said, "I'll be Bach."

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    1. Dear Susan. It is wonderful to know that you enjoyed this post. I am following your blog by e-mail now. Today I tried to leave a comment and I couldn't but I will try again. I'm having some internet issues today. Thanks for your words.

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  8. Hi Julia,

    I recollect your previous posting in regards to Picasso. Your in-depth explanation of his life is greatly appreciated. If nothing, the man was emotive and his talents, subject to much debate.

    You may recall I made mention of that song about him by Paul McCartney and Wings.

    Thank you for this, Julia.

    Gary

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    1. I do remember the song, Gary. Thank you. He is not my favorite artist, but I enjoyed writing about him. Let me know if you have a special interest in a specific artist and I can write something. Take care. Thank you for your visit to my blog.

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  9. Hi Julia, I am a huge Picasso fan.

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    1. Really? I hope you enjoyed the little exhibition then. Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Beautiful post, Julia. I love Picasso and have been to many exhibitions and the Picasso museums in Paris and Barcelona ... so it's especially nice to have this virtual Picasso exhibition. I enjoyed the film version, too, of Francoise Gilot's book - Surviving Picasso. Anthony Hopkins made a good Picasso.

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    1. Kimberly, I didn't even know that there was a film of her book. I will see it! Thank you for letting me know. I appreciate your visit and I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

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  11. Hi Julia .. I've recently seen a programme on Guernica told by a Spanish-British ex politician .. I had known nothing of the era - or Picasso's art ...

    Wonderful post you've written here .. and one day I must get across and see some of his work .. I'd love to spend some time in Barcelona ...

    ... then I see Kimberley's comment about the film of Gilot's book .. I must try and get that sometime ...

    Now I'm going over to your other post .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary. I'm sure you will enjoy a visit to Barcelona... and it will give you more ideas to write on your blog. Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Hi Julia .. more ideas = help .. I have 'hundreds' already .... my brain is wonderfully swamped with delights for blogging - just takes time for me to get them out!!

      Cheers Hilary

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    3. Hi Hilary. Yes, I know exactly what you mean. My mind is also swamped with ideas for blogging. The funny side is that I don't try to get ideas. They just come to me when I am doing other things... hugs.

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  12. What a wonderful attitude about this. Thanks for posting! picasso

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I appreciate each and every comment. Thank you.