Pablo Picasso, who died of a heart attack at his home in Southern France on Sunday (April 8) at the age of 91, became a household name within his own lifetime as the most influential and controversial artist of the 20th Century.
Pablo Picasso, who died of a heart attack at his home in Southern France on Sunday (April 8) at the age of 91, became a household name within his own lifetime as the most influential and controversial artist of the 20th Century. Spanish-born Picasso had lived in self-imposed exile in the village of Mougins, outside the township of Vallauris, since the Spanish civil war of 1936-1939. He was a bitter opponent of the Franco Nationalist regime, and swore he would not return to Spain until the Republic was restored. He never did.
He was born in Malaga on October 25, 1881. His father was an artist, and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona. Under him, Picasso received art lessons, and his first style was in the realistic traditions of Ribera and Goya.
After several visits to Paris he settled there in 1903, and for the next four years divided his time between the two countries. These were the years of his 'blue period' using the colour as a dominant feature to depict sorrow and hunger. In 1905, after his own personal conditions had improved, he went into his 'harlequin period', or 'rose period'. A turning point in his career followed two years later when he painted his first cubist work -- the aesthetic and technical revolution against impressionism. He soon assumed leadership of the cubist movement with Georges Braque, and it was not for several years that he switched styles again. In the decade that followed the Great War of 1914-1918, he produced naturalist and abstract works side by side. Later, influenced by Greco-Roman art, he produced on canvas a race of female giants and went through a brief romantic phase of bullfight scenes painted in the spirit of Goya.
The Spanish Republic Government appointed him director of the important Predo art gallery in 1936, and Picasso organised the evacuation of its art treasures during the civil was which broke out that year. In the years following his exile, his expressionism became increasingly free, with Picasso arranging human features in a style which flouted anatomy. After World War Two, and the liberation of Paris in 1945, Picasso became a communist and was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1965. In addition to his painting, he has left his mark on stage design, sculpture, ceramics, pottery and engraving. He was married twice and his second wife, forty-four years his junior, was with him when he died on Sunday in their 40-roomed mansion set in 17 acres surrounded by barbed wire. Just down the road is the pottery-marking communist township of Vallauris -- which he rescued from dereliction when he settled there, and whose inhabitants almost worshipped him.
Picasso had been ill for several weeks before his death.