Pablo Picasso Biography 1881-1973
“When I was a kid I tried to draw like Michelangelo. It took me years to learn to draw like a kid.”
Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain, as the son of an art and drawing teacher. He was a brilliant student. He passed the entrance examination for the Barcelona School of Fine Arts at the age of 14 in just one day and was allowed to skip the first two classes. According to one of many legends about the artist’s life, his father, recognizing the extraordinary talent of his son, gave him his brushes and palette and vowed to paint never again in his life.
Blue and Rose Period
During his lifetime, the artist went through different periods of characteristic painting styles. The Blue Period of Picasso lasted from about 1900 to 1904. It is characterized by the use of different shades of blue underlining the melancholic style of his subjects – people from the grim side of life with thin, half-starved bodies. His painting style during these years is masterly and convinces even those who reject his later modern style.
During Picasso’s Rose Period from about 1905 to 1906, his style moved away from the Blue Period to a friendly pink tone with subjects taken from the world of the circus.
After several travels to Paris, the artist moved permanently to the “capital of arts” in 1904. There he met all the other famous artists like Henri Matisse, Joan Miro and George Braques. He became a great admirer of Henri Matisse and developed a life-long friendship with the master of French Fauvism.
Inspired by the works of Paul Cezanne, he developed together with George Braque and Juan Gris developed the Cubist style. In Cubism, subjects are reduced to basic geometrical shapes. In a later version of Cubism, called synthetic cubism, several views of an object or a person are shown simultaneously from a different perspective in one picture.
This celebrated work, now in the New York Museum of Modern Art, is part of series painted while was with his young family in the Fontaineblueau in the summer of 1921. It marks a return to high Synthetic Cubism and his enduring Commedia dellArte imaginary, commenced in the early days in Paris. His continuing association with teh refined world of ballet, through his wife and through his work designing sets and costumes for Diaghilev, is evident throughout.
Three Musicians is a large painting measuring more than 2 meters wide and high. It is painted in the style of Synthetic Cubism and gives the appearance of cut paper.
Picasso paints three musicians made of flat, brightly colored, abstract shapes in a shallow, boxlike room. On the left is a clarinet player, in the middle a guitar player, and on the right a singer holding sheets of music. They are dressed as familiar figures: Pierrot, wearing a blue and white suit; Harlequinn, in an orange and yellow diamond-pattered custome; and, at right, a friar in a black robe. In front of Pierrot stands a table with a pipe and other objects, while beneath him is a dog, whose belly, legs, and tail peep out behind the musician’s legs. Like the boxy brown stage on which the three musicians perform, everything in this painting is made up of flat shapes. Behind each musician, the light brown floor is in a different place, extending much farther toward the left than the right. Framing the picture, the floor and the flat walls make the room lopsided, but the musicians seem steady. Music Makers in Harmony; It is hard to tell where one musician starts and another stops, because the shapes that create them intersect and overlap, as if they were paper cutouts. Pierrot, the figure in blue and white, holds a clarinet in his hands; one hand is connected to a long, thin, black arm, while the other hand lacks an arm. Three Musicians emphasizes lively colors, angular shapes, and flat patterns. Picasso said he was delighted when “Gertrude Stein joyfully announced… that she had at last understood what… the three musicians was meant to be. It was a still life!”
Three Musicians is an example of Picasso’s Cubist style. In Cubism, the subject of the artwork is transformed into a sequence of planes, lines, and arcs. Cubism has been described as an intellectual style because the artists analyzed the shapes of their subjects and reinvented them on the canvas. The viewer must reconstruct the subject and space of the work by comparing the different shapes and forms to determine what each one represents. Through this process, the viewer participates with the artist in making the artwork make sense.
Literature source used for this Pablo Picasso biography
- Ingo F. Walther, “Picasso”, Benedikt Taschen Verlag GmbH, 1999, Köln, ISBN 3-8228-6371-8