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Cubist Painters - 5 Interesting Facts about Pablo Picasso

Updated on October 7, 2015

Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 and was baptised Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso! That’s right, a 23 word name, named after practically all his relatives. He was born in Malaga, Spain but his family didn’t stay there long. When Picasso was ten they moved to La Coruna and then a few years later they moved again to Barcalona and Picasso kept moving around for the rest of his life, until 1958 when he settled in Chateau Vauvenargues until he died in 1973.

Picasso's first painting, 'Le Picador'.
Picasso's first painting, 'Le Picador'.

1. Pablo Picasso was a child prodigy. Most of his artistic skill he learnt from his father, in fact, by the time Picasso was thirteen his father swore he’d never paint again when he witnessed Picasso’s extraordinary talent. By nine he had completed his first painting, ‘Le Picador’, which depicts a man on horseback in a bullring. At age fourteen, he passed the entrance exams at the School of Fine Arts in Barcalona where he was more advanced than most of the senior students in the advanced classes. Both his first two large oil paintings (The First Communion and Science and Charity) were accepted into exhibitions around Spain and he then passed the entrance exams at the Royal Academy of San Fernando but left after a couple of months.

death of casamegas by pablo picasso
death of casamegas by pablo picasso

2. Picasso’s most famous paintings come from his cubist period (between about 1907-17), but he went through many phases before he got to this. In 1901, after his friend Casagemas committed suicide, he began painting in what was known as his Blue Period. ‘Blue’ is both literal and figurative for Picasso as he was painting with almost entirely blue and green but also depicting figures of sadness, loneliness and despair. During this time he moved constantly between Paris and Barcalona but eventually settled in Paris and emerged from his blue funk as he spent time painting the Circus Medrano and by 1905 he was painting pink and yellow paintings of acrobats in what is now known as his ‘Rose Period.’

the set for Parade by Pablo Picasso
the set for Parade by Pablo Picasso

3. In 1916 Picasso met with Diaghilev, the leader of a Russian ballet troupe who asked him to design sets for their performance of the ‘Parade.’ This was a turning point in Picasso’s life. While travelling with the ballet in Rome he met and fell in love with a dancer, Olga Khokhlova and continued travelling with the ballet so he could be with her. Eventually he convinced her to settle down with him and in 1918 they married. His artwork changed again during his time with Olga, which is no doubt a reflection of the extravagant life she dragged him into. Picasso moved away from cubism and began to focus more on conventional Classicism.

Woman with flower by Pablo Picasso (surrealist art)
Woman with flower by Pablo Picasso (surrealist art)

4. Picasso hated fame and being married to Olga only fuelled his fame. The more popular he became, the more uncomfortable he felt, believing that he was being punished by God. He pulled away from Olga and had an affair with his son’s nurse, Marie-Therese. Also at this time he began experimenting with sculptures and putting random objects together. Things weren’t going so well for him during this period; he was attempting to get a divorce from Olga and possibly as a result of this he was going through financial difficulties. His art turned from Classicism to Surrealism and when he was distressed or upset he would frequently paint a bull into his paintings.

guernica by Pablo Picaso
guernica by Pablo Picaso

5. Picasso was living in Paris during the war and while it was under Nazi occupation and was commissioned by the Spanish government to paint a mural for a Parisian exhibition. Devastated by the tragedies in Guernica, a Spanish town, Picasso chose to portray their suffering and this mural remains today a constant reminder of the event. He was not able to exhibit his work during the war because the Nazis did not approve of it. He antagonised them at every opportunity though and probably only escaped arrest because he was such a high profile figure. Picasso joined the Communist party when Paris was liberated in 1944. Putting his unwanted fame to good use, he expressed his humanitarian views at every opportunity, speaking out against both the American intervention in Korea and the Soviet occupation of Hungary.  Picasso won the International Stalin Peace Prize twice, in 1950 and 1961.

Books about Pablo Picasso


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    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 4 years ago

      You mentioned his problems with fame several times. Well, in some cases he found pretty witty ways to deal with it.

      I remember an anecdote I have heard about Picasso. He was on the beach when a family recognized him and sent a kid to ask him if he could draw something. They of course knew anything drawn by him would be a treasure, but Picasso decided to paint something on the kid's back!

      He told this story to his friends with a conclusion: Poor kid, I wonder how long he couldn't wash himself ...

      Thanks for this hub!

    • profile image

      Niisa19 7 years ago


    • jenblacksheep profile image

      jenblacksheep 7 years ago from England

      Thanks guys. I really appreciate the positive feedback. I've found it really interesting researching loads of famous painters. I hope to write some more Cubist painter hubs soon.

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 7 years ago from Indiana

      Wow! Saw the hub on facebook and thought I would take a look. This is a GREAT article! I'm bookmarking it for use in our homeschool. Very interesting stuff! We'll have to look for the bull!

    • schoolmarm profile image

      schoolmarm 7 years ago from Florida

      I find him so interesting and just love his work. Thank you for sharing this.