Pablo Picasso is one of the most influential artists of our time. His constantly evolving style has helped shape modern art.
Picasso was born in Spain in 1881. His first painting lessons came from his father, a drawing master in Barcelona. Picasso entered the Barcelona School of Art in 1895 and then attended the Madrid Academy in 1897-98. Two years later he made his first trip to Paris. He settled in this city in 1903.
In Paris, Picasso grew closer to and more interested in the Symbolist-Synthesist circle of artists. Picasso's early work followed the academic tradition, but after 1900 the artist felt the impact of Art Nouveau. He became a part of the Parisian avant-garde and developed a socially conscious attitude to his subject matter. The period from 1901-04 is known as the artist's 'Blue Period'. At this time, his works were consistently blue in tone and projected a melancholy air. A vague type of allegory pervaded the work, which was linear and elegant in style. In 1905, Picasso found a new strength as he moved into his decidedly more cheerful 'Rose Period'. During this phase, he focused mainly on circus performers painted in shades of pink.
In 1906 Picasso created a groundbreaking work that would change the face of art forever. His interest in African and Iberian art led him to paint a canvas in a radically different style from those which came before. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon heralded the arrival of Cubism, a radical new approach to painting which involved a radical simplification of form and a flattening of space and planes. This new style occupied Picasso until the outbreak of World War I.
In Picasso's earliest Cubist works, natural objects were reconstructed. Color was subdued and the structure of the image was emphasized. Over time, the images were broken down and the relationship between the forms presented and their relationship to the background became ambiguous.
During World War I, Picasso returned to a naturalistic style. He painted calm, classical figures and subjects. At this time, it became clear that the figure was always to be the main subject of Picasso's work. The natural style would not last, however, and Picasso began distorting forms and painting disquieting works in the 1920s. Picasso's style would continue to vary for years.
In 1937, Picasso would create another groundbreaking work, Guernica, as a protest against Fascism in Spain. This violent and brutal work would be followed by several others in the same style. In the 1950s, Picasso would continue to create variations on past works as well as new and innovative pieces. He was influential not only in painting but also in sculpture and ceramics.
Until his death at age ninety-four, Picasso created art with passion and imagination. His style varied greatly because he was never afraid to refresh or change his vision. He is surely one of the most unique and influential artists of the twentieth century.