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Pablo Picasso, the Inventor of Cubism By Colleen Messina 1 It is ironic that someone born with an enormous name ended up being known by just one word! This artist was born with the name Pablo Nepomuceno Crispin Crispiniano de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruis Picasso. Whew! No wonder he later was known simply as the brilliant Picasso. 2 Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, in Malaga, Spain. His father was a painter and also an art professor at the School of Fine Arts and Crafts. Young Picasso showed tremendous talent. Some even called him a child prodigy. His father taught him in classical techniques. The boy eagerly made sketches of casts of ancient sculptures and painted striking portraits of family members. If Picasso had wanted to be a classical artist, he could have been a great one. Curiously, he never completed his college education at the Academy of the Arts, showing his independent spirit. 3 Even though his father gave him his strong artistic background, Picasso's mother also played a role in his future success. She had great faith in his ability to rise to the top of whatever field he chose. Picasso said once, "My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you'll be a general; if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.' Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso." Perhaps humility was a lesson he missed! 4 Picasso's style changed a lot over his life, and his most lasting contribution to modern art was the development of a style called Cubism. Picasso had several recognizable artistic periods. If you think of his life's work as an ice cream sundae, his first classical period might be the foundation of the sundae, or the vanilla ice cream; plain and simple. 5 Picasso's next noticeable period might be when he added another flavor to the sundae, like blueberry cheesecake ice cream! This was called his Blue Period. What kind of feelings do you think of when you think of the color blue? Some say that Picasso's painted mostly in blue because a good friend committed suicide. The feeling in all of his work during this time was melancholic, and he used other cool colors like shades of green. This period lasted from the end of 1901 until late 1904 as the artist traveled back and forth between Spain and France. Beggars and outcasts were his favorite subjects. 6 Fortunately, Picasso's outlook took a rosier turn, and he began painting with pinks, reds, and beiges. You might say that he added strawberry syrup to his sundae! If you think of the expression, "seeing the world through rose colored glasses," it applies to Picasso's joyful new work. He placed circus performers, especially happy clowns, in his paintings. This period of his artistic life is called the Rose Period. 7 After the Rose period, Picasso traveled more. He became fascinated by artifacts from other cultures, like Africa. These travels, as well as inspiration from artists like Cezanne, led to the development of Cubism. Cubism was revolutionary in the world of art and would be the equivalent of adding nuts, sprinkles, cherries, and chocolate syrup to your ice cream sundae! He began to paint in this unusual style in late 1906. 8 Cubism is one of the most important art movements in the twentieth century. The artist takes his or her subject and visually breaks it up. Then, the object is analyzed and recreated in an abstract form using geometric shapes such as cylinders, spheres, and cones. It is not supposed to look real, and it doesn't! 9 The three phases of Cubism were Facet Cubism, Analytic Cubism, and Synthetic Cubism. Picasso's painting, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, which he painted in 1907, is considered by many to be the first Cubist painting. This piece is now in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Soon, many painters all over the world took up this style because Picasso started a revolution where the soldiers carried paintbrushes. 10 A real revolution, the Spanish Civil War, also affected Picasso's homeland and his art. In 1937, the government asked him to paint a mural for a world exposition in Paris. Picasso, who was horrified by the war, painted Guernica. Guernica was the name of a town that was bombed during the war, and the painting is a tragic combination of distorted anatomical images. It is now in Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. 11 Picasso had as much change in his personal life as in his styles of art. The short, muscular artist married twice and had four children. He supposedly also had many mistresses. In spite of many upheavals in his affairs, he continued to paint prolifically. The Guinness Book of World Records claims that Picasso painted more than any other painter. He created about 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, and 34,000 book illustrations. Picasso once said, "Give me a museum, and I'll fill it." 12 Picasso's habits were a unique combination of order and chaos. He followed a disciplined daily schedule in his artistic life. He rose at 10 or 11 in the morning, then he would take care of business for several hours, have lunch, and then he would go to his studio at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. He would paint uninterruptedly for up to 12 hours. 13 In contrast to his orderly painting life, Picasso collected an incredible amount of junk in his life! Odd collections of things ranging from pebbles to pieces of glass, a hollow elephant's foot, and a bird cage cluttered his home in California. He also had African drums, ancient newspapers, and broken pottery. He compulsively collected these objects, and once he had tossed them somewhere, he never moved them! 14 In spite of this disorganization, Picasso became the most famous artist in the world by the late 1930s. He also was perhaps the most highly-paid artist of all time. After he became famous, he could simply put a few lines on a paper, add his dramatic signature, and then sell it at a high price. He made more than a million dollars a year. He was proud of his fortune and once said, "I am rich enough to throw away a thousand dollars!" Picasso generously donated over 800 paintings to a museum in Spain. 15 Pablo Picasso died in 1973 at the age of 91. His Cubism style profoundly influenced the world of modern art. Looking at his work always provokes a reaction of some kind! In spite of his unusually long name at birth, today there is absolutely no doubt about the identity of Picasso. Pablo Picasso, the Inventor of Cubism Assignment 1: Number your paper from 1 to 8. Write the correct answer for each question by the corresponding number. 1. Where was Picasso born? 2. Who gave Picasso his first art The United States training? Spain Another artist Italy His mother Germany His father His uncle 3. Which of the following might appear 4. Which person might be in one of his in one of Picasso's paintings from paintings from the Rose Period? the Blue Period? A gardener A flower A nurse A sky A chef An ocean A clown A beggar 5. Which of the following is an 6. What kinds of Cubism developed? important element in Cubism? Check all that apply. Geometric shapes Analytic Proper perspective Synthetic Color Realistic Realistic objects Facet 7. What was the name of Picasso's 8. Which word best describes how painting that portrayed the horrors Picasso kept his personal belongs? of war? He gave things away often. Guernica He kept everything in a cluttered The Berlin Wall way. Rome He constantly organized his Naples things. He liked to categorize his possessions. Pablo Picasso, the Inventor of Cubism Assignment 2: Short Essay: Respond to each prompt with a concise and well-written short essay. Short Essay 1: Do you think it is important for artists to try to use their art to make political statements? Why, or why not? Short Essay 2: Do you think Picasso would have become a great artist if his father had not trained him in art at an early age? Why, or why not? Short Essay 3: Admit it -- his work looks crazy. However, notice that today's TV commercials often look like something out of this world. Weird faces and designs. Choose a product -- anything from jeans to cars -- and describe how his work would be used to sell that product.
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