50 Years Since the Death of Pablo Picasso

Posted by The Home School in the Woods Team on

By Sam Pak

Countless events and persons of interest have received the spotlight in history. In a world that treasures technological advancement stemming from great kingdoms and governments, today we instead turn our attention to a different category: cultural breakthroughs. 

We’re specifically focusing on an artist who many struggled to understand in his time. Someone who gave the world something truly special before it was ready to receive it. We’re talking about none other than Pablo Picasso!

Pablo Picasso – or fully, Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Crispín Crispiniano María Remedios de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso – was a well-loved, 20th-century artist who broke the mold of contemporary art through unorthodox and bewildering styles.

This week, we’re acknowledging him as we mark fifty years since his passing on April 8, 1973.


Cubism in Modern Art

Picasso is revered for expanding the boundaries of modern art through a style called “Cubism.” It’s a style that replaces realism with more abstract and cerebral illusions of the mind through shapes. It attempted to breach the two-dimensional canvas that so many western artists aimed for by exploring three dimensions.

His style appeared to pop out at the viewer, and it often required close studying to grasp the intended message of each piece.

Picasso bore a hidden genius under the guise of smugness and mild impatience for narrow-mindedness. From the repeated annoyance of constant questioning about his style, Picasso began regularly carrying a revolver on his person, loaded with blank bullets. When approached by viewers of his mind-bending pieces as to what they meant, he would draw the gun and shoot the blanks at the inquirers. Quite a dramatic response, for sure!

The style he created has become a pillar of modern art, inspiring generations of artists to come.


His Early Inspiration

Born in an artistic family, Picasso developed a knack for drawing as early as ten years old. He pursued his talents through exhibits and art academies in Spain under the tutelage of his own father, José Ruiz Blasco, a professor at La Llotja academy.

Picasso eventually advanced onward to Madrid to access the fullest potential of his maturing skill as an artist. While there, he and his father would continue to build their renown as local talents.

Picasso was somewhat agitated in his early development as an artist, however. Despite his distinct aptitude to produce art in the style of his father and many other western artists, he yearned for something more. 

Likely perceived as rebellious, he shifted from his family’s wishes to hone classical styles and instead explored his own styles. At the time, he was still called Pablo Ruiz but was keen on his mother’s last name, “Picasso.” Amid his divergence from his father’s preferred way, he began assuming the Picasso name whenever he introduced himself to people or signed his name.

A renewed man, he moved on from Spain in pursuit of inspiration that was better to his liking. This move would lead him to none other than the present art capital of the world – Paris!


From Spain to France

It’s important to realize that the general style of Spanish contemporary artists was in muted tones and desaturated hues. During his career in Spain, leading up to his departure, Picasso learned that artists in France leveraged much more vibrant colors, which appealed to him. This, in turn, was a foundational stepping stone for many Pablo Picasso paintings.

Upon discovering the potency of artists like Vincent Van Gogh, he was led to nurture his desire for vibrance by moving to France with his studio partner, Carles Casagemas.  

While in Paris, he and Casegamas discovered a whole new branch of art that generated pure inspiration for new work. A couple of years passed when Picasso and Casagemas eventually moved back to Madrid. Casagemas was hurt by his own failed romance he had developed in Paris. Casagemas ultimately went back to Paris, where he shot the woman he loved, following suit by ending his own life afterwards. 

Upon learning of the tragic choices and death of his friend, Picasso was sent into a deep depression. It was during this mourning when Picasso began what became known as his “Blue Period.”


Picasso’s Periods

Picasso’s Blue Period referred to the expression of his inner sorrow becoming manifest on the canvas. Art historians have noted the substantial density of Picasso’s work between the years of 1901 and 1904, which carried predominantly blue tones and themes. It was a stage of his life that was intensely driven by his emotional suffering, which bred some of his most moving and original work.

After returning to some amount of normalcy, Picasso entered his also famous “Rose Period” in 1906, which was iconic for its depiction of women after the patterns of historical art traditions. This stage garnered some controversy, however, as it sometimes depicted women in odd or unsettling situations. 

Despite any ill receptions, it was again one of Picasso’s most genuine expressions of displaying the human condition that showed us more than rote perfectionism through art.


A Man Out of His Time

Picasso breathed new life into the world of art that would go on to inspire millions. We haven’t even touched on his career in sculpture and ceramics, collage, or his minor return to naturalism through New Mediterraneanism! There’s truly a lot to unpack with such a prolific person in history. He was unafraid to defy what the world expected from him in order to chase his desire to innovate and try something new. It’s why he remains a historical celebrity and is featured so prominently in art academia today.

If you’d like to learn more about Pablo Picasso or feature him in your studies, you can find a timeline figure of him in our Napoleon to Now Timeline Figure set. He is also included in our Artists Activity-Pak

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” - Pablo Picasso

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