Pablo Picasso Essay Research Paper Picasso

Pablo Picasso Essay, Research Paper

Picasso – Cultural Expression

Essay By: , Art 1010

Picasso was arguably the most influential artist of the twentieth century. He had some degree of

influence in all styles of painting which were used during his time, and was known and respected by almost

every art enthusiast on the face of the planet. Pablo Picasso, born Pablo Ruiz y Blasco, came into the world

on the 25th of October 1881 in the southern Spanish town of Malaga. Pablo was an artist from early in his

life he was a child prodigy. He began his career as a classical painter. He painted things such as portraits

and landscapes. But this style didn t satisfy Picasso, he was a free man and wanted to express himself and

ultimately leave a lasting mark on art as we know it.

From around 1901 to 1903, Picasso began his first truly original style, which is known as the blue

period. During this time Picasso depicted figures whose clothing and body language speaked of the

lowliness of their social status. One of his pieces during this time was The old Guitarist s (pic 1). I believe

that by outlining the guitarist with a black line, it shows how he is cut off from his environment. The

guitarist is also left very little room for movement, especially his head. This may have been done to show

his helplessness. While the color blue was the dominant color of this period, the reason has yet to be


During 1904 to 1905 Picasso s style shifted to what is known as the rose period. Also referred to

as the circus period. Although Picasso s paintings still concentrated on the social outcasts, his pieces were

lightened up with no heavy dark lines, and different shades of color. During this time Picasso focused on

the circus people and. I believe that Picasso had much sympathy for these performers. Forms of artists

themselves, they were paid to provide entertainment for society. But their lifestyle as circus performers

made them possibly feel alienated from society. One of Picasso s pieces from this time was Two acrobats

and a dog (pic 2). In this figure the two acrobats are physically close, but their is no emotional attachment

showing. Their eyes are gazing in different directions. During this period Picasso made the sad clown a

figure that exists today throughout performing industries. It shows how clowns are paid to make laugh, he

must keep his real existence and true feelings hidden.

Picasso s classical period (1905) and Iberian period (1906) were marked by experimentation and

rapid style changes. With lightened beishes and browns being the predominant colors, Picasso ventured into

sculpting, and more joyful pieces of art. Picasso also became interested in the Iberian sculptures. The

Iberian influence is easily visible in self portrait ( pic 3). Picasso reduced the image of his head to an oval,

and his eyes to almond shapes, which revealed his fascination with the simplification of geometric form.

Picasso turned his attention to cubes. He invented Cubism a radical art form which used harsh

lines and corners to display a picture instead of the usual soft curves. Picasso won a lot of fame for his

Cubist paintings, but was criticized for it also. He designed and painted the drop curtain and some giant

cubist figures for a ballet in 1917. When the audience saw the huge distorted images on stage, they were

angry, they thought the ballet was a joke at their expense. Cubism lived on despite this. Other artists

mimicked Picasso s Cubism, and it took hold. Picasso had only just begun his one-man art revolution.

In the late 1920s, Picasso fixed himself upon an even more revolutionary art form Surrealism.

Surrealism emphasized the role of the unconscious mind in creative activity. Surrealists aimed at creating

art from dream, visions, and irrational impulses. Their paintings shocked the world particularly Picasso s

it was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. Picasso saw his newly found art form as a kind of

painted literature or sign language. He took advantage of this fact and also the fact that he was extremely

famous, to make a few political statements, statements that would go down in history.

1936 saw the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Fascist revolutionaries, led by Francisco Franco

took hold of Spain and imposed a fascist dictatorship upon the country. Due to poor economic control and

disregard for the people on the part of the Fascists, the country went through hell. The unemployment rate

was phenomenal. The majority of the population were peasants and lived in appalling conditions.

Impoverished gangs scavenged in fields and rubbish heaps for anything they could find. A vast horde of

ragged, jobless people wandered around from town to town. On top of this the Fascists operated as a police

state and therefore anyone who opposed it would be executed. This incident sparked the most important

time in Picasso s life. On April 26 1937, Nazi German bombers flying under orders from General

Francisco Franco, laid waste to the town of Guernica, in the Basque part of Spain, killing many innocent

civilians. Guernica was not a military target and had no revolutionary significance what so ever. The

bombing of Guernica was an extremely cruel example to the rest of Spain of what would happen if the

Republican resistance continued. This action prompted Picasso to paint Guernica( pict 4); some say his

greatest masterpiece ever. It shows the suffering and destruction of the town, as well as Picasso s own

horror and outrage at what happened. The painting depicts death and carnage on a large scale. A grief

stricken mother is holding her dead child, a woman is burning, a severed arm holding a broken spear is

lying next to a dead man and a horse (Picasso s traditional victim) which represents the people has been

speared through the heart and is in agony. The bull (Picasso s traditional evil figure) stands alone, above

everything else. He is not himself responsible for the destruction but stands as an emblem of the powerful,

terrible forces that caused it. In other words, the bull represents Fascism. The painting therefore says that

Fascism, though not directly responsible, is the underlying cause for violence, death and destruction. The

painting shook not only the art world but also the political world. Guernica is Picasso s major political

expression of all his paintings. Even though it is a single painting, it did so much. And even though it is

painted using expressionism, it is still so powerful and (with no exaggeration) it made people realize what

was going on in Spain and struck up sympathy for the Spanish people, and hatred for the fascists.

Even though Picasso only aimed to express his own horror, outrage, suffering and sorrow of the

Spanish people. By unleashing Guernica on the world, Picasso achieved more than he set out to do.

Guernica struck up mixed emotions. The Nazis thought of his work as degenerate art not only

did it defy the rules of painting; his artwork was anti-Fascist and therefore anti-Nazi. On the other hand,

the British, Americans, French etc. loved his work because it expressed, as nothing else could, the horrors

and atrocities of Fascism (which is just the sort of message that the democratic countries tried to instill into

their own people). When Nazi occupation of Paris (Picasso s home city) came, Picasso s work was

prohibited from public exhibition. Picasso then took on a new role. He refused to leave Paris while the

Nazis were there his fame protected him. But Picasso s refusal to co-operate with the Germans also made

him, as a person, a symbol of freedom, of the unvanquished spirit .

Picasso was one of the greatest artists ever, but also a hero, and a figure of defiance against

Fascism. The reason that I spent so much time on Guernica is because it is my favorite piece of art. I think

Picasso was way ahead of his time. This piece had a huge impact on society at that time.

All 50,000 of Picassos pieces have impacted, and influenced people all over the world. The gift that he

received was actually a gift for all of us.


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