- Russ Ramsey
Chasing Pablo Picasso
For this Art Wednesday we’ll look at the Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and designer Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Picasso was one of the founders of the Cubist movement in art—in which objects are analyzed and broken down into their most basic parts.
Portrait of Pablo Picasso, 1908
Picasso went through periods of artistic focus. “The Old Guitarist” (1903) came from his Blue Period in his early 20’s, during which most of his paintings were predominantly based on shades of blues and greens. His mood and subjects has a somber tone.
Picasso, The Old Guitarist, 1903
Those who only know Picasso for his cubist works often wonder how difficult his art must be. He knew the fundamentals of compositions. He said, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”
Picasso, Boy with a Pipe, 1905
For Picasso to give us “Girl with a Mandolin,” (1910) he had to know how to paint a girl with a mandolin, and then disassemble its parts and reduce the girl and the instrument down to their essence, while still capturing their motion.
Picasso, Girl with a Mandolin, 1910
Picasso's cubism evolved from “analytic cubism” (objects analyzed by their shape, presented in monochrome neutral color) to “synthetic cubism” (addition of fragments of paper pasted into the compositions) as seen in “Woman in a Chemise in an Armchair” (1913)
Picasso, Woman in a Chemise in an Armchair, 1913
Picasso lived in France, where he painted “Card Player” (1913-14). Before World War 1 in 1914, he spent his time with French artists and anarchists, many of who had to serve in the military during the war. Picasso, being a Spaniard, was able to continue making art uninterrupted.
Picasso, Card Player, 1913-14
In the 1920’s, Picasso began experimenting with neoclassicism and surrealism. His neoclassical work reflected a return to order, and his surrealism the opposite, not as much visually but logically. He was always experimenting, but he continued with his cubism during his later seasons. (Picasso, Three Musicians, 1921)
Picasso, Three Musicians, 1921
I love Picasso’s “The Bull” (1945). This sequence shows what Picasso was doing. He mastered the fundamentals of composition—he could draw the bull. But the process of breaking that bull down into its essence was the result of careful study.