Pablo Picasso * was born on October 25, 1881, in Malaga, Spain - son of artist and professor of drawing, Jose Ruiz Blasco and Maria Picasso Lopez. Rather than adopting the more common name Ruiz, Pablo took the rarer name of his mother Picasso. His unusual expert skill for drawing came early, around the age of 10, when he became his father's pupil in La Coruna in 1891. Soon thereafter, his father redirected his own ambitions to those of his son, providing him with various models and support for his first exhibition at the age of 13.
Already an artistic prodigy, Picasso, at the age of 14, completed the one-month qualifying exam of the Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona in one day. From there he went to the Royal Academy of San Fernando, but finding the teaching there pointless, he spent his time recording life around him, in the cafes, on the streets, in the brothels*, and in the Prado where he discovered Spanish painting. When Picasso decided to return to Barcelona in early 1899, he had made the decision to break with his art school training and to reject his family's plans for his future. He also began to show a decided preference for his mother's surname, signing his works P.R. Picasso, and by late 1901 dropping the Ruiz altogether.
While in Barcelona, Picasso moved among a circle of Catalan* artists and writers. One such friend was Carles Casagemas. Eager to see his own work in place and to experience Paris firsthand, Picasso set off (with friend Casagemas) to conquer, if not Paris, at least a small corner of Montmarte.
The years of 1901 to 1904, known as the blue period because of predominance of the colour blue in his paintings. This was also a time of frequent changes of residence between Barcelona and Paris. During this period, he would gain the emotional experience and material that would stimulate the powerful expressiveness of his work.
Late 1904 through 1906 marked a radical change in colour and mood for Picasso. Engaged in a newly bloomed relationship, he became fascinated with the acrobats, clowns and wandering families of the circus world. The tones of the somber blue period were replaced in the so-called rose period by those of subtle pinks and grays, often highlighted with brighter tones.
In 1907, Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and met Georges Braque, the other leading figure of the Cubist movement. Cubsim was equally the creation of Picasso and Braque and from 1911 to 1913, the two men were in frequent contact. During this time, Picasso also did the set and costume design for Serge Diaghilev's ballet entitled "Parade".
For Picasso, the 1920s were years of artistic exploration and great creative productivity. Picasso continued theater set and costume design and concentrated his painting in the Cubist, Classical and Surrealist genres. From 1929 to 1931, he pioneered wrought iron sculpture as well as producing a rather large quantity of graphic illustrations. In late April of 1937, the world learned the shocking news of the saturation bombing of the civilian target of Guernica, Spain by the Nazi Luftwaffe. Picasso responded to this atrocity with his painting turned anti-war statement Guernica, which expressed in synthetic Cubism his horror at the bombing of this Basque town during the Civil War. On a wider scale, it expressed a horror of war in general, as well as his compassion and hope for its victims. In 1936, he became the director of the Prado Gallery in Madrid. During World War II, he moved to Paris, where he remained until the liberation joined the Communists.
Picasso lived to be 92 years of age and died at Mougins in France. He had left his wife in 1931, and had a succession of mistresses who were a source of inspiration to him, and whom he used as models. He married the last of them, Jacqueline Roque, in 1961.