Saturday, January 21, 2012

Picasso

Pablo Picasso by Robert Bovington


Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga in 1881 and is perhaps the best known of modern painters - certainly he was one of the pioneers of Cubism.

He had a bit of a head start with his painting career because his father was an art teacher so no doubt he was already skilled in the basics when he entered the Academy at Barcelona in 1895 at the age of 14!

Whilst there, he painted 'Barefoot Girl (1895)'. Later, he studied in Madrid and won a gold medal for 'Customs of Aragón (1898)'.

In 1901 he started working in his studio in Paris - in the Montmatre area. He worked for many years there and, after mastering the traditional forms of art, he started developing his own style.

He went through his 'Blue' period - in colour as well as mood and then broke with tradition with his Cubism work.




One of his masterpieces, in Cubism style, was 'Guernica (1937)' - Picasso's horror at the bombing of the Basque town during the Spanish Civil War was expressed in this spectacular canvas.
 




His home city of Málaga has honoured him by opening the Picasso Casa y Museo in the city and very interesting it is too. When I visited the gallery recently, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the museum. Beforehand, I did wonder whether I would appreciate the exhibits there. I like a cow to look like a cow so artists like Constable are more my cup of tea. My perception of Picasso women was that they were too abstract for my tastes. Well, on my visit to the Picasso Gallery, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes - many of his works are abstract but nevertheless most are strangely attractive and most certainly I could appreciate that here was a true artist - the exhibits were true works of art unlike most of the garbage in Tate Modern where unmade beds and the innards of cows seem to be the norm.

Picasso painted his first picture at the age of 10 and went on to produce over 20,000 paintings, sketches and sculptures. Some are in the museum in Málaga - well about 200 are! The artist's daughter-in-law has donated them. Many of Picasso's works displayed in the museum in Málaga are abstract and many are of his second wife, Jacqueline. I particularly liked one of Picasso's paintings of her - "Señora Z (Jacqueline con flores) 1954", which is an abstract but not so 'way out' as many of his works. Another painting in the museum that I liked was "Olga Koklova con mantilla 1917". Olga was a prima ballerina who Picasso had met in 1916. They were married in 1918. The artist shared his life with a number of women - he had a number of mistresses - and all featured prominently in his works. These paintings had varying degrees of abstractness - some like "Woman in Red Chair 1932" were painted during the artists surrealism period and bear little resemblance to real women. Other works by the artist do capture the likeness of the subject but exhibit Picasso's fondness for disfiguring part of the human form. "The Yellow Pullover 1939" is one such work. It is a portrait of Dora Maar, one of the artist's mistresses.

Following my visit to the museum in Málaga, I determined to find out more about the artist. I discovered that there are many paintings by Picasso that I actually like - even some of the abstract ones but then, during his long lifetime, he had produced a tremendous variety of work and contributed greatly to the development of modern art in the 20th century!


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