Pablo Picasso

October 25, 1881-
April 8, 1973

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain on October 25, 1881. He was the son of Jose Ruiz Blasco, an art teacher. At the age of 14 he completed the Barcelona Academy of Fine Arts qualifying examination. Later he studied in Madrid, returning to Barcelona in 1900.

Rather than using his father's name, Ruiz, Picasso used his mother's maiden name, Picasso to sign his paintings. At the age of 19 Picasso traveled to Paris, France. Many of his works from this time reflect the influence of famous French artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, and Monet.

As he frequently changed residents between France and Spain Picasso's best friend died. In addition, Picasso was unable to sell any paintings. This hard time began Picasso's "blue period" which lasted until 1904. In 1905 Picasso became fascinated with the circus and many of his paintings, such as Family of Saltimbanques displayed this new interest. He had also recently met and fell in love with a young woman named Fernande Olivier. Picasso's paintings reflected his lighter mood as he used pinks and reds during his "rose period".

By 1908 Picasso, influenced greatly by his friendship with George Braque, began his period of cubism. Often monochormatic and described by an art critic as being created of "little cubes" one of his most famous paintings Portrait of D.H. Kahnweiler, in 1910, comes from this time. Picasso continued to experiment with cubism. He created collages and sculptures, and he added more color as seen in Three Musicians painted in 1921.

Then in 1937 Picasso used his art to respond to the Nazi bombing of Guernica, Spain. He painted one of his most powerful and famous paintings Guernica, a shocking artistic work over 12' high and 25' wide. Picasso continued to paint, his works sometimes reflecting a surreal quality. He also worked with ceramics and various methods of lithography. In 1970, 3 years before his death, Picasso donated more than 800 works to the Berenguer de Agulilar Palace Museum in Barcelona.

Pablo Picasso died on April 8, 1973 at the age of 91. Although considered both a genius and a freak during his lifetime, he is now appreciated as the creator of modern art. A prolific artist who experimented with more styles and invented more forms of art than any other single person.

Books for Children



Pablo Picasso experimented with many different forms of art over the years. Some of his different styles are divided into artistic periods; his blue period, his rose period, his cubist period, etc. Try working in one of the styles Picasso used by selecting an activity below.


Monochromatic Painting

When someone paints with monochromatic colors, they are painting with just one basic color. Both Picassoís blue period and rose period are examples of monochromatic painting.

You will need:

Spread the newspaper over your work area. Now using just the color you selected, sometimes mixing it with a little black paint or a little white paint, paint a picture.

At first you may choose to experiment with mixing the paints to create different shades of your color. An abstract design is fine. Or if you prefer, paint a picture of an object, person, or subject of other interest to you.

When you are finished, take a long look at your painting. Which shades of your color look farthest away? Do those shades all tend to be darker? or perhaps lighter? If you were to paint this same picture again would you change it in anyway?

How does the painting make you feel? Picassoís blue period paintings tend to make people feel sad, why do you think that is? Would your picture painted with a different basic color change the feeling it gives you?

Now try painting again. Paint a different picture with the same colors, or select a new basic color to mix with the black and white paints. Perhaps you will want to try paint on a colored piece of paper. How will a change in the paperís color affect a monochromatic painting?

Picassoís Perspective

Perspective is the way that a person sees something. If you look at a friend you might be viewing the side of their face, their full face, or the back of their head. But unless you have a mirror, you can only see one side of their body at a time.

Picasso experimented with painting different perspectives, or different sides, of a subject in the same painting. This often made his pictures look flat, boxy, and unusual. Find out how difficult a task it is to represent different sides of the same object in the same picture by trying the activity below.

You will need:

First set up your work area by spreading the newspaper and putting your paper, paints, brush, and rinse water in place. Next select your model. The model could be an object such as cup or a friend who is patient and willing to cooperate.

If you select an object, make it a fairly simple one, donít try to tackle a whole vase of flowers, pick one flower instead. Also, donít pick an object which is the same shape on all its sides, such as a ball or a cube, make sure it has an interesting feature such as a handle.

Now place your model in front of you. Look at it carefully and try to paint exactly what you see. However, only paint it in this position for 3-5 minutes. When the time is up change the position of your model. Turn or rotate your model and paint the new side you see for another 3-5 minutes. Try to make the different sides all be a part of the same object in your picture.

Once again change the position of your model to a third and new perspective and paint what you see for 3-5 minutes. Remember to work on the same piece of paper the whole time.

How does your painting look? Now turn your model back to each of the three positions and add any finishing details or things you missed the first time. Take only a few minutes in each position to finish up. Can you blend the three different perspectives into just one object?

What makes this painting interesting? Can others tell what you used for a model? Did you find painting three different perspectives difficult? fun? If you enjoyed painting this way, select a new model and try it again.

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