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Celebrating the life and artistic legacy of Pablo Picasso is a profound undertaking. There has been no other artist from the 20th century, whose revolutionary achievements and extraordinary talent have left a greater impact on the world.
(Pablo Picasso with his famous painting 'The Weeping Woman' in the background)
From co-founding the Cubist movement, to inventing constructed sculpture, Pablo Picasso’s artistic career has been an incredible, inspiring journey. Born on October 25, 1881, here are 10 interesting facts about the Spanish artist, that will blow your mind!
(A constructed sculpture by Picasso titled 'Violin and Bottle on a Table', 1915. Image source: tate.org.uk)
1. Not many people know that Picasso’s full name honours a variety of his relatives and saints, and is quite a mouthful - Pablo Diego Jose Franciso de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso.
2. One of the greatest artists of the 20th century, it is not surprising that art was an integral part of his life even as a child. According to Picasso’s mother, his first words were "piz, piz", a shortening of lápiz, the Spanish word for "pencil".
(One of the earliest pictures of a young Picasso, with sister Lola in 1899)
3. Don Jose Ruiz, Picasso’s father, persuaded officials at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona to allow his son to take an entrance exam for their advanced course. The examination process, which often took students a month to complete, took Picasso only a week, and the jury admitted him, when he was only 13!
(Left: A portrait of Picasso's father Don Jose Ruiz, by his son; Right: Picasso's first painting at the age of 8. Image source: emaze.com)
4. As a young artist, Picasso lived in Paris in the early 1900’s, then the art capital of Europe. During this time, out of sheer desperation and poverty, he burned most of his work to keep his apartment warm!
5. Between 1901 and 1904, Picasso painted essentially monochromatic, somber paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, which came to be known as Picasso's 'Blue Period'. Today, paintings from that period are some of his most popular works, but at the time, he had difficulty selling them!
(La Vie, an oil painting by Picasso produced in 1903)
6. The concept of a ‘Collage’, in the modern sense, began with Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in 1912. Picasso not only coined the term, but also reinvented the art form. According to some sources, Picasso was the first to use the collage technique in oil paintings.
(A Picasso Collage: Head (Tête), 1913-14, cut and pasted coloured paper, gouache and charcoal on paperboard)
7. At the time of the second World War, Picasso, who remained politically neutral, was often harassed by the Gestapo. During a search of his apartment in Paris, a German officer saw a photograph of the painting Guernica, which depicted the bombing of Guernica, a Basque town in northern Spain, by the Nazi forces. When asked by the officer if he had done that, Picasso famously replied, “No, you did.”
(Guernica, 1937, located in the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain, is one of Picasso's most famous works)
8. So famous and popular are his paintings, that it is often forgotten that Picasso was also a poet and playwright! Between 1935 and 1959, he wrote over 300 poems and two surrealist plays!
(Cover of the first English translation, 1948, of Picasso’s ‘Desire Caught By The Tail’)
9. Picasso has had more of his paintings stolen than any other artist, with more than 1,100 pieces missing till date! In 1976, 118 paintings, drawings and other works by Picasso were stolen from an exhibition at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France.
(Le pigeon aux petit pois, 1911. It was stolen from the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2010)
10. An exceptionally prolific artist, the total number of artworks Picasso produced throughout his lifetime has been estimated at an astonishing 50,000! It comprises of 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.
(The Musée Picasso in Paris has over 5,000 works of art by Picasso including 3,700 works on paper, ceramics, sculptures in wood and metal, and paintings)
11. Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting Les femmes d’Alger fetched $179.4 million in a Christie’s auction in 2015, making it one of his most expensive paintings ever sold! The painting now sits in the private collection of Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani in Doha, Qatar.
(Picasso’s 1955 painting, Les femmes d’Alger)
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