Artist Biography: Pablo Picasso
A concise biography about Picasso's life and work.

National Gallery of Art Micro Gallery
National Gallery of Art. Micro Gallery—National Gallery of Art. Online Content. Washington, D.C., 2004.

Pablo Picasso
Spanish, 1881-1973
Remarkably prolific, Pablo Picasso worked in a broad range of styles and media over his long career, and his impact on the history of painting and sculpture throughout the twentieth century has been profound. In close collaboration with Georges Braque, Picasso developed cubism—probably the most significant formal innovation of the art.

Picasso began drawing and painting as a child in Spain and entered formal study when he was eleven years old. By 1899, he had left home to join the bohemian milieu in Barcelona. He made several trips to Paris, where he finally settled in 1904. As a young artist seeking to establish himself, Picasso produced his first important works during the 'Blue' and 'Rose' periods: melancholic and sentimental images of poverty and social alienation.

In Paris, Picasso quickly became the center of a circle of avant-garde painters and poets. From this point, his work underwent a continual process of stylistic change. Drawing on many unconventional sources, including ancient Iberian sculpture and African art, the artist entered a phase of primitivism, which culminated in the breakthrough painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon of 1907 (Museum of Modern Art, New York). This was soon followed by cubism, a bold departure from the conventions of perspective that had long dominated pictorial space in Western art.

During the late 1910s, Picasso developed a form of neoclassicism that corresponded to the conservative aesthetic climate in France between the two world wars. Ten years later, he experimented with surrealism, a movement he greatly influenced, bringing new extremes of violence and sexuality into his work. These elements were often represented by a highly personal adaptation of subjects from classical mythology.

After World War II Picasso's work entered a bold, new expressionist phase during which he produced series of pictures based on celebrated paintings by Diego Velázquez, Eugène Delacroix, and Edouard Manet. Picasso had long been an international celebrity, and in 1963, a museum of his work was established in Barcelona. Other museums were founded in Arles, Avignon, and, posthumously, Paris.