Pablo Picasso at the Norton Simon Museum
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) was the most influential artist of the 20th century. Across eight decades and countless media, he pursued new modes of representation in a career characterized by ceaseless change and experiment.
Born in Málaga, Spain, Picasso studied in Barcelona and Madrid before settling in Paris. His early manner—marked by the influence of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the bohemian milieu of Montmartre—was swiftly supplanted by the melancholy palette and gaunt figures that define the work of his so-called Blue Period (1901–1904). A new lyricism and interest in Classical tradition emerged in the Rose Period (1904–1906), which, in turn, gave way to the fractured geometry and assertively painted surfaces that defined Cubism in its various forms.
Picasso’s co-creation (with Georges Braque) of this radical new approach to representation was his most significant contribution to the history of Western art and ways of seeing. Cubist paintings, prints, and sculptures are not fully abstract—that is, they are not entirely divorced from the observed world. They do, however, trouble the relationship between the object and its image, rejecting likeness as the defining feature of visual representation. Although the properly Cubist phases of Picasso’s stylistic development lasted only to the end of World War I (when he, like many of his colleagues, participated in a widespread conservative turn known as the rappel à l’ordre), the great Cubist experiment would influence his work for the rest of his life.SHOW MORE