Biography Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973

Picasso and Guernica

In 1937 Picasso  created the work most identified with his genius, the mural Guernica, a protest against the barbaric air raid against a Basque village during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica is a huge mural on canvas in black, white and grey which was created for the Spanish Pavilion of the Paris World’s Fair in 1937. In Guernica, Picasso used symbolic forms like a dying horse or a weeping woman; forms he repeatedly used in his subsequent works.

Guernica was exhibited at the museum of Modern Art in New York until 1981. It was transferred to the Prado Museum in Madrid in 1981 and was later moved to the Queen Sofia Center of Art, Madrid in 1992. Picasso had disallowed the return of Guernica to Spain until the end of the rule of Fascism under General Franco.

Pablo Picasso and Women

Picasso changed his companions at least as often as his painting styles and his relationships with women influenced his mood as well as his art style. The shift from the “blue” to the “rose period” was likely the result of meeting Fernande Olivier, his first companion. Throughout his life, Picasso immortalized his wives, companions and children in numerous portraits

During his early years in Paris, he lived with Fernande Olivier for seven years. During World War I, from 1914 to 1918, Picasso worked in Rome where he met his first wife, Olga Koklova, a Russian ballet dancer. In 1927 he met Marie Therese Walther, a seventeen year old girl and began a relationship with her. In 1936 another woman, Dora Maar, a photographer, stepped into his life. In 1943 he became a mentor and than the lover of a young painter, Francoise Gilot. They had two children, Claude, and Paloma, Picasso’s third and fourth child. Picasso’s final companion was Jacqueline Roque. He met her in 1953 and finally married her in 1961.

In 1965 Pablo Picasso had to undergo a prostrate operation. After a period of rest, he concentrated on drawings and a series of 347 etchings. In spite of his health problems, he created a number of paintings during his last years. He died at the age of 91 on April 8, 1973.

Picasso as a Printmaker

Picasso was not only a prolific printmaker, but also used a large variety of different techniques. He created lithographs, etchings, drypoints, lino cuts, woodcuts and aquatints. Always on the search for something new, he experimented a lot with these techniques. Indeed, some of Picasso’s graphic works use a combination of several techniques.

Picasso created his first prints in 1905 – a series of 15 drypoints and etchings, Les Saltimbanques, published by the art dealer Vollard in 1913. More graphic works were produced in the early 1930’s, e.g. The Vollard Suite. But it was in the years after World War II that most of Picasso’s prints were created, including his enormous 347 Series of etchings and aquatints. Like Chagall, Picasso worked with the Atelier Mourlot as well, a renowned art publisher and print workshop in Paris. There he created about 200 lithographs between 1945 to 1949, working in close cooperation with Henri Deschamps, a professional printmaker from the Mourlot studio.