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date: 08 June 2023

Picasso [Ruiz Picasso], Pablofree

(b Málaga, Oct 25, 1881; d Mougins, France, April 8, 1973).

Picasso [Ruiz Picasso], Pablofree

(b Málaga, Oct 25, 1881; d Mougins, France, April 8, 1973).
  • Melissa McQuillan

Updated in this version

updated bibliography, 22 October 2008

Brassaï: Picasso, in his studio on Grands-Augustins, Paris, gelatin silver print, 1939 (private collection); ©ADAGP/©Estate Brassaï-RMN/© RMN-Grand Palais/Michèle Bellot/Art Resource, NY

Spanish painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker, decorative artist and writer, active in France. He dominated 20th-century European art and was central in the development of the image of the modern artist. Episodes of his life were recounted in intimate detail, his comments on art were published and his working methods recorded on film. Painting was his principal medium, but his sculptures, prints, theatre designs and ceramics all had an impact on their respective disciplines. Even artists not influenced by the style or appearance of his work had to come to terms with its implications.

With Georges Braque Picasso was responsible for Cubism, one of the most radical re-structurings of the way that a work of art constructs its meaning. During his extremely long life Picasso instigated or responded to most of the artistic dialogues taking place in Europe and North America, registering and transforming the developments that he found most fertile. His marketability as a unique and enormously productive artistic personality, together with the distinctiveness of his work and practice, have made him the most extensively exhibited and discussed artist of the 20th century.

I. Life and work.

1. Early years, to 1905.

(i) Spain and Paris.

Picasso received his first lessons in 1888 from his father, José Ruiz Blasco (1838–1913), a painter specializing in pictures of pigeons and doves, and a teacher of drawing at the Escuela Provincial de Bellas Artes in Málaga. It was Picasso’s father who first recognized and encouraged his aptitude for art. His earliest preserved drawings, produced as a child of nine, display a precocious grasp of naturalistic conventions. The imagery of his childhood and teenage drawings reflects his father’s repertory, a fascination with the bullfight (e.g. Bullfight, La Coruña, 2 Sept 1894; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 401) and conventional academic studies (e.g. Study of a Torso, after a Plaster Cast, 1894–5; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 405).

Pablo Picasso: Girl with Bare Feet, oil on canvas, 750×500 mm, 1895 (Paris, Musée Picasso); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY

In 1891 the family, including Picasso’s two younger sisters, moved to La Coruña, on the Atlantic coast, where in 1892 Picasso enrolled in his father’s classes in ornamental drawing at the Escuela de Bellas Artes before progressing to drawing from figures and plaster casts and to painting from nature. In 1895 he produced about 15 oil portraits both of family friends and of socially marginal types which sympathetically present the sitter, for example Girl with Bare Feet (1895; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 2). He also experimented from 1894 with more biting caricatures and satirical sketches in manuscript ‘newspapers’ variously titled Azul (or Asul) y blanco and La Coruña (e.g. 16 Sept 1894; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 402), which emulated the subject-matter of popular political journals of the time.

Picasso’s father changed teaching jobs again in 1895, this time moving to the Escuela de Bellas Artes (known as La Lonja) in Barcelona. In September, aged only 14, Picasso passed the examinations to enter the senior course in classical art and still-life. During the next few years he began to assert his independence, attending the academy only irregularly. He found a studio with a friend, Manuel Pallarés, and began exhibiting his work. The First Communion (1896; Barcelona, Mus. Picasso) and Science and Charity (1897; Barcelona, Mus. Picasso), awarded a gold medal at the Exposición de Bellas Artes in Málaga, were both characterized by a sharp delineation and tonal modelling that contrasted with the light, boldly brushed handling in landscapes of the same period, such as Mountain Landscape (c. 1896; Barcelona, Mus. Picasso).

In autumn 1897 Picasso briefly attended the Academia Real de San Fernando in Madrid, but he was critical of its teaching and instead studied the diverse range of Old Master paintings in the Prado, where he copied a portrait of Philip IV by Velázquez. With Pallarés he departed in June 1898 for the village of Horta de Ebro (now Horta de San Juan). On his return to Barcelona in February 1899 he began to frequent Els Quatre Gats (Cat.: The Four Cats), a café that served as a meeting-place for the Catalan modernist movement. There he became acquainted with a circle of artists and writers; the friendships that most affected his development as an artist were with the painter Carles Casagemas (1880–1901) and the poet Jaime Sabartés (1881–1968). Picasso quickly established himself as provocateur among the younger generation, taking account of Art Nouveau (especially in his graphic work) and in his paintings evoking the fin-de-siècle Symbolism of artists as diverse as Toulouse-Lautrec and Munch; it was through this milieu that he also came to appreciate the work of El Greco.

Several major events in Picasso’s artistic maturation coincided with the new century. In February 1900 he exhibited 150 drawings, mostly portraits, at Els Quatre Gats, directly challenging his older colleague Ramón Casas; several of these were published. A painting, Last Moments (destr.), was selected for the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and in October he left with Casagemas for Paris, where he met two dealers, Pedro Mañach and Berthe Weill, to whom he sold works; Mañach also offered him a regular income in exchange for paintings. Until 1904 Picasso moved restlessly between Spain and Paris. From January to April 1901 he lived in Madrid where, in February, he received news of Casagemas’s suicide. In response he produced several intense images of his dead friend including the Death of Casagemas (summer 1901; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 3) and a symbolically complex work, Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas (1901; Paris, Mus. A. Mod. Ville Paris), which superimposed allusions to the art of the past and in particular to El Greco’s Burial of Count Orgaz (1586–8; Toledo, S Tomé). In Madrid, Picasso and the Catalan writer Francisco de Asis Soler founded a review, Arte Joven, which was modelled on the Barcelona publication Pél i Ploma but which ran for only four issues. This period in Madrid, although brief, marked an important turning-point in the development of Picasso’s identity; it was at this time that he began signing his works Picasso rather than P. Ruiz Picasso or P. R. Picasso as before, favouring his mother’s more distinctive and uncommon surname.

Pablo Picasso: Lady in Green, pastel on paper, h. 20-1/4, w. 14-1/4 inches (52 x 36 cm.), 1901 (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. John L. Loeb Gift, 1961, Accession ID: 61.85); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Picasso’s second visit to Paris lasted from May 1901 to January 1902, and the third from October 1902 to January 1903. During his third stay he shared cramped quarters and a rare period of impoverishment with the poet Max Jacob, whom he had met on his previous visit. In late June 1902, before the opening of his exhibition at the Galerie Vollard, he sold 15 of the 64 works to be displayed; most of these paintings, such as The Death of Casagemas, employed bright hues and broken brushstrokes. The show was favourably reviewed by Félicien Fagus in the Revue Blanche, and an exhibition of Picasso’s pastels (see fig.) was held concurrently at the Sala Parés in Barcelona. He also participated in two exhibitions at the Berthe Weill gallery in Paris in April and November 1902.

(ii) Blue Period.

By the end of 1901, in works such as Self-portrait (late 1901; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 4), Picasso had adopted a predominantly blue palette and shed his motifs of their earlier sardonic social vision. From this time until 1904, known as the Blue Period, his imagery focused on outcasts, beggars and invalided prostitutes, the latter based on observations made at the prison of St Lazare in Paris. He produced his first sculptures: a modelled figure, Seated Woman (1901; see 1967 exh. cat., p. 50), and two bronze facial masks, Blind Singer and Head of a Picador with a Broken Nose (both 1903; see 1967 exh. cat., p. 51). One of the most important works of the period, however, was a painting, La Vie (1903; Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.), a complex Symbolist allegory that evolved through numerous sketches. From X-rays it is known to have been painted over Last Moments and to have undergone several revisions. Its synthesis and layering of references rule out a fixed reading. Autobiography is embedded in the male figure, which was begun as a self-portrait but later given the features of Casagemas; the iconically stiff composition, compressed space and enigmatic gestures, however, evoke a more general significance.

Pablo Picasso: Self-portrait, oil on canvas, 810×600 mm, 1901 (Paris, Musée Picasso); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY

Picasso returned in April 1904 to Paris, where he settled in a studio at Bateau-Lavoir and soon surrounded himself with a ‘Parisian family’. From this time he made France his home. He was introduced to the poet and critic André Salmon by Max Jacob, and in the autumn he met Guillaume Apollinaire. He began a liaison at this time with Fernande Olivier, whose features were given to many of his female figures during the next few years. His first important etching, The Frugal Meal (1904; Geiser, 1933, no. 21), was typical of Blue Period paintings such as The Blind Man’s Meal (1903; New York, Met.) in its subject-matter of a gaunt, impoverished couple in spartan surroundings. The end of the Blue Period was marked by an exhibition in October 1904 at the Berthe Weill gallery of 12 works from the previous three years.

(iii) Rose Period.

By the end of 1904 both the colour schemes and subject-matter of Picasso’s paintings had brightened. His pictures began to be dominated by pink and flesh tints and by delicate drawing; although the works were less monochromatic than those that preceded them, this phase came to be labelled his Rose Period. A fascination with images of saltimbanques, harlequins and clowns may be linked both to frequent visits to the Cirque Médrano and to an identification with such characters as alter-egos, a legacy of the 19th century. Family of Saltimbanques (1905; Washington, DC, N.G.A.), which includes figures that have been identified as disguised portraits of Picasso and members of his circle, sums up his preoccupations during this time. The idea of a group of figures who appear alienated and unable to communicate with each other, placed in a flattened and disjunctive space, seems to have been derived from Manet’s Old Musician (1862; Washington, DC, N.G.A.). Details of more anecdotal subject-matter are visible in preliminary sketches and X-ray photographs, but these were eliminated in the course of painting. Picasso’s debt to late 19th-century Symbolism remains in evidence, here evoking a state of being rather than an allegorical allusion, as had been the case in La Vie.

(iv) Schoorl.

In summer 1905 Picasso visited the town of Schoorl in the Netherlands at the invitation of a writer, Tom Schilperoort. In the few paintings made by him during this month, such as Dutch Girl (Brisbane, Queensland A.G.), he began to introduce weightier figures, and the works that he produced in the autumn developed in gravity and opacity; figures viewed frontally and in strict profile impose an archaizing stylization on a classical simplicity, as in the slightly later La Toilette (1906; Buffalo, NY, Albright-Knox A.G.). Two of these works were purchased by Leo Stein and his sister Gertrude, who soon became two of Picasso’s most important patrons and frequent hosts to him at their weekly salons. The other major artist promoted by the Steins during this period was Henri Matisse, who with fellow painters made a sensation at the Salon d’Automne of 1905 as instigators of a new movement, Fauvism. The Fauvists’ use of bright, unmodulated colour was not immediately reflected in Picasso’s paintings, but the same Salon d’Automne included an Ingres retrospective, a room devoted to Cézanne and three paintings by Henri Rousseau; the work of each of these artists was to play an important role in the evolution of Picasso’s art.

2. Primitivism and Cubism, 1906–15.

In his paintings immediately prior to the early Cubist paintings of 1908, Picasso had initiated the breakdown of illusionistic space that he was to pursue with an apparently greater intellectual rigour through Cubism, a style that over the course of a decade secured his prominent place in the history of 20th-century art. For Picasso, however, the restraint of Cubism was preceded by works exhibiting a raw intensity and violence in part stimulated by his reading of non-Western art, and aligned with European currents of primitivism (see Primitivism, §2). This dialogue of apparently contrasting positions, between the intellect and the emotions, between forms of classicism and expressionism and between the conscious and the unconscious, provided the dynamic of much of Picasso’s work.

Pablo Picasso: Gertrude Stein, oil on canvas, h. 39 3/8, w. 32 in. (100 x 81.3 cm), 1906 (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Gertrude Stein, 1946, Accession ID: 47.106); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Picasso and Fernande Olivier spent the summer of 1906 in Gosol, a remote Catalan village in the Pyrenees where he came to terms with his experience of Iberian sculptures from Osuna, which he had seen in the Louvre in the spring. He began in his work to make reference to forms of archaic art and to make expressive use of distortion with insistently rhythmical repetitions and contrasts. In Gosol, Picasso made his first carved sculptures. The resistance of wood produced simplified forms akin to those in his paintings. Gauguin’s work in the same medium, the most immediate European precedent available to Picasso, had been known to him through Paco Durio, a previous tenant in the Bateau-Lavoir; its primitivism had been given authority by the retrospective held at the Salon d’Automne in 1906, and it offered access to another major stimulus, the art of the Pacific Islands. At the same Salon ten paintings by the recently deceased Cézanne were exhibited. Resolving his response to the achievements of these two artists preoccupied Picasso over the next year and helped define his later work. On his return to Paris, Picasso quickly completed his portrait of Gertrude Stein (1906; New York, Met.), which had been left partly obliterated in the spring after over 80 sittings, giving her a mask-like visage of monumental chiselled forms compressed within a shallow space. The Stein portrait stands as a crucial shift from observation to conceptualization in Picasso’s practice.

(i) ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’.

Pablo Picasso: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, oil on canvas, 2.43×2.33 m, 1907 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY

The primitivism of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907; New York, MOMA) was more shocking still. While it gestated from a series of preparatory drawings (see fig.) and underwent major overpaintings during its production, it does not so much summarize Picasso’s previous work as reframe his understanding of painting; he called it his ‘first exorcism picture’. This radical picture, seen by friends in his studio and designated by various appellations, was put aside and shown publicly only in 1916, when it was given its present title by Salmon. It was purchased by the couturier Jacques Doucet in 1924 and acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1939 at the time of Picasso’s retrospective. Embedded in its matrix are the vestiges of Picasso’s encounters with 19th-century artists: Ingres, Manet, Delacroix, Cézanne and Gauguin. Initially conceiving it as a narrative brothel scene, Picasso changed it to a vertical format, adopted a more discontinuous sense of space for the setting, removed the male visitors and reorientated the women to confront the (implicitly male) viewer. Controversy surrounded its stylistic disjunctures, confused by Picasso’s own equivocal statements. Rubin (1984) has argued that Picasso reworked the painting in late June and early July after a visit to the African and Oceanic collections in the Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro in Paris. Although the painting has defeated most efforts to specify African or Pacific sources, it records Picasso’s reassessment of Gauguin’s primitivism and attests to the revelations accorded by forms of non-Western carving in terms of conceptual principles of representation and an emotively powerful evocation of magic and ritual. Linking eroticism and the fear of death, the Demoiselles fixed an image that was savage in style and violent in its dismemberment of the female body.

Pablo Picasso: Mother and Child, oil on canvas, 810×600 mm, 1907 (Paris, Musée Picasso); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY

In paintings such as Mother and Child (1907; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 19) and wood-carvings such as Figure (1907; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 238), Picasso probed the fetishistic and conceptually simplifying aspects of primitivism. Although the juxtaposition of discordant elements in the Demoiselles gave way to internal pictorial coherence, in general his work of the following year displays an astonishing diversity of handling. Picasso sundered and isolated illusionistic conventions, using bright hues contrasted with subdued greys and earth colours, striated hatchings against angular crumpled planes, and rhythmic repetitions paired with bar-like outlines. In still-lifes painted in spring and summer 1908 and landscapes executed in August at La Rue-des-Bois, Picasso continued to reflect on the work both of Cézanne, which he had studied in depth at the retrospective held at the Salon d’Automne of 1907, and of Henri Rousseau, whom Picasso and Olivier fêted with a banquet in November.

By October 1907, and probably earlier in the spring of that year, Apollinaire had introduced Georges Braque to Picasso. In the winter of 1908–9 Picasso repainted his monumental Three Women (St Petersburg, Hermitage). Possibly in response to Braque’s Cézanne-influenced landscapes from the summer, in this work and a number of still-lifes Picasso imposed a more consistent control both on the surface and on illusions of space, after the example of Cézanne but with a greater concern for physicality. In contrast to Picasso’s usual assertive individualism, the invention of Cubism was such a joint effort that even he and Braque sometimes had difficulty in distinguishing each other’s work; Braque later described their relationship as that of mountaineers roped together.

(ii) Analytical Cubism.

Pablo Picasso: Still-life with a Bottle of Rum, oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 19 7/8 inches (61.3 x 50.5 cm), 1911 (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998, Accession ID: 1999.363.63); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In summer 1909 Picasso and Olivier spent four months at Horta de Ebro, where he made views of the village and landscape not only in paintings and drawings but also in photographs. The spatial continuity he admired in Cézanne’s work was treated in his own paintings, such as House on the Hill, Horta de Ebro (1909; New York, MOMA), in terms of nearly monochromatic tilted facets that fragment forms into a flow of light-dispersing surfaces. These discoveries were taken one stage further in pictures made in 1910 during a visit to the Catalan town of Cadaqués in the company of André Derain and his wife. In these works facets seem to be depleted of their substance, leaving a fragmented scaffolding of vestigial planar edges (see fig.). In a series of etchings illustrating Jacob’s Saint-Matorel (1911; Paris, Geiser, 1933, nos 23–6) Picasso moved towards images that were increasingly transparent and difficult to interpret. The growing discontinuity of figurative fragments that characterized these methods, which came to be labelled Analytical Cubism, was especially apparent in three portraits of art dealers: Ambroise Vollard (spring 1910; Moscow, Pushkin Mus. F. A.), Wilhelm Uhde (spring 1910; St Louis, MO, Joseph Pulitzer priv. col., see Zervos cat. rais., ii, no. 217) and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (autumn, 1910; Chicago, IL, A. Inst.). While experiments in painting and sculpture had been closely interconnected in Picasso’s primitivism, in his Analytical Cubist phase he produced only Head of a Woman (Fernande) (1909; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 243) and two less satisfactory sculptures.

Picasso signalled his disaffection with the bohemian existence of the Bateau-Lavoir by moving in the autumn of 1909 to a new studio and apartment with maid in the vicinity of the Place Pigalle; he and Fernande began to hold regular open house there on Sundays. He sold paintings to the Russian collector Sergey Shchukin and to Gertrude Stein and Vollard, and exhibited internationally from Moscow to New York in 1910–12. Like Braque, however, with whom he worked very closely in this period, Picasso refused to participate in the Salon d’Automne or the Salon des Indépendants, in spite of the growing number of adherents of Cubism who made use of the Salons as a platform for their work.

Pablo Picasso: Woman with Guitar (‘Ma Jolie’), oil on canvas, 1000×654 mm, 1911–2 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY

After working with Braque at Céret in August 1911, Picasso was forced to return hastily to Paris in early September. The confession by Apollinaire’s friend Géry Piéret to the theft of several sculptures, including two Iberian heads sold to Picasso in 1907, had led to Apollinaire’s arrest for the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Although Apollinaire was later exonerated, he and Picasso both suffered concern for their status as foreign residents. The autumn marked a change in Picasso’s personal life. He began a liaison with Eva Gouel (Marcelle Humbert), whose presence in his life he commemorated not in portraits but in the words ‘ma jolie’, taken from a popular song, which he applied to the surface of paintings such as Woman with Guitar (‘Ma Jolie’) (1911–12; New York, MOMA). During his stay at Céret, Picasso had begun to deal openly again with more easily legible imagery after his experiments in the spring with nearly abstract paintings (sometimes labelled Hermetic Cubism). Using a pictorial scaffolding that coincided more clearly with the placement of still-life objects, Picasso filled the interstices with a scintillating touch similar to that used by the Neo-Impressionists. Following Braque’s example he employed stencilled lettering, which he soon exploited in verbal puns, masked meanings and multiple readings.

(iii) First collages.

Pablo Picasso: Still-Life with Chair-caning, oil and painted oilcloth on canvas, 290×370 mm, c. spring 1912 (Paris, Musée Picasso); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY

After painting still-lifes that employed lettering, trompe l’oeil effects, colour and textured paint surfaces, Picasso produced Still-life with Chair-caning (May 1912; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 36), an oval picture suggesting a café table in perspective surrounded by a frame made of rope. This was the first example of collage, a form of painting or drawing that incorporates pre-existing materials or objects as part of the surface. On to the painted background Picasso applied a piece of oil-cloth printed with an illusionistic chair-caning pattern: the very kind of cloth commonly used as a table-covering in working-class kitchens. The three letters written just above the chair-caning, JOU, can be interpreted both as a fragment of the noun JOURNAL and as a verb indicating Picasso’s perception of his activity as a form of play. In the same year, probably following the invention of collage, Picasso applied similar principles to sculpture in three-dimensional constructions beginning with Guitar (cardboard, 1912; New York, MOMA; see figs 1 and 2) and Mandolin and Clarinet (1913). A revelation from African art, a Grebo mask, catalysed Picasso’s vision of the possibilities of spatially disjunctive arrangements of signs for object, form and volume. His invention of this radical new sculptural form was to have enormous repercussions not only for his own later work but also for later developments in modern sculpture.

(iv) Papiers collés and Synthetic Cubism.

Picasso and Eva Gouel spent the summer of 1912 in Céret, Avignon and Sorgues, where they were joined by the Braques, but returned briefly to Paris in September to move into a new studio found for them by Kahnweiler on the Boulevard Raspail; at the end of the year Picasso signed a three-year contract with Kahnweiler, granting him exclusive purchase rights over his paintings. At Sorgues in mid-September Picasso saw Braque’s first papier collé, a variation of collage that employed not only ready-made materials such as newspapers but also purely invented shapes cut out of sheets of blank paper. On his return to Paris in October, Picasso also began to produce works in this medium, for example Violin and Sheet of Music (autumn 1912; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 368). Both collage and papier collé offered a new method not only of suggesting space but also of replacing conventional forms of representation with fragments of images that function as signs. They provided, in other words, a radically new way of dealing with the pictorial language that Picasso had been prising apart and isolating since the Demoiselles. Pasted newsprint helped Picasso to interpose references to tense pre-war politics, to social violence and absurdity and to artistic matters. During two further phases of his development of papier collé in 1913, Picasso discovered that shapes could acquire other meanings or identities simply by their arrangement, without requiring a resemblance to naturalistic appearances. A single shape might wittily and equally convincingly stand for the side of a guitar or a human head. Elements glued on to the surface, or hand-painted imitations of such material in a sophisticated double-take on the relationship between illusion and reality, were incorporated in subsequent paintings such as Geometric Composition: The Guitar (oil on canvas mounted on wood, 870×475 mm, spring 1913; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 38). Each element in the works of this phase, known as Synthetic Cubism, was carefully considered for the ways it could contribute to pictorial meaning.

In the same year that Apollinaire published Les Peintres cubistes: Méditations esthétiques (Paris, 1913), Picasso showed paintings in group exhibitions in Vienna and Prague, at the Armory Show in New York and at the Jack of Diamonds exhibition in Moscow; he also held his first large retrospective, comprising work from 1901 to 1912, at the Galerie Thannhauser in Munich. From mid-March Picasso and Eva Gouel spent five months in Céret, accompanied by Max Jacob and later by Juan Gris, and in August they moved into new quarters in the Rue Schoelcher. Although the designation of two phases of Cubism first made by Kahnweiler in Der Weg zum Kubismus (Munich, 1920), which distinguished between an analytical description of objects and a synthesis of information about an object into a more unified self-sufficient structure, has dated, the terminology remains; however, numerous works of this period resist rigid classification as examples of either Analytical or Synthetic Cubism. Woman in an Armchair (autumn 1913; New York, Mrs Victor Ganz priv. col., see Penrose and Golding, 1973, no. 131), resuming a favourite early theme, includes traces of Analytical Cubist colour and faceting as deliberate signs of other systems of representation within a Synthetic Cubist matrix. By contrast the Card Player (1914; New York, MOMA) appears more ironically detached, but it too rejects a single consistent reading by juxtaposing several kinds of pictorial space and illusionistic conventions.

The Demoiselles, as Picasso’s first major painting to feature stylistic disconnectedness, was followed by papiers collés and Synthetic Cubist paintings that significantly ruptured previous conceptions of style. By such means Picasso discovered that sets of pictorial conventions could be manipulated with the same freedom as individual components. In the unfinished painting The Painter and his Model (oil and pencil on canvas, summer 1914; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 53) and in portrait drawings of 1915, he startlingly made use of naturalistic conventions of drawing, shading and space; nevertheless, concurrent with these critiques of the disintegration of consistency and wholeness in Cubism, he both elaborated the decorative possibilities of Cubism and distilled a more purified austerity. The possible variations made room for humour, irony and high seriousness.

(v) War years.

From June to November 1914 Picasso lived in Avignon. At the outbreak of World War I in August, Braque and Derain were mobilized and Apollinaire applied for French citizenship and joined the artillery. Only Gris, a fellow Spaniard, remained from the Cubist circle. Although, unlike his French colleagues, Picasso was able to carry on painting without interruption, his work became more sombre during the war years as his life altered dramatically. Kahnweiler’s contract had lapsed on his departure from France, and in the autumn of 1914 Picasso’s work began to be sold by Léonce Rosenberg. He suffered deep loss with the death of Eva Gouel on 14 December 1915 but had a brief secret affair with Gaby Lespinasse in 1915–16. In March 1916 Apollinaire returned wounded from the front; although they renewed their friendship, Picasso began to frequent a new social circle, that of the Ballets Russes, with the encouragement of a young poet whom he had recently met, Jean Cocteau, whose admiration quickly approximated adulation.

3.Variations of style, Classicism and the theatre, 1916–24.

(i) Theatre designs, 1916–22.

Cocteau had already begun to plan the ballet that was to become Parade by the time he met Picasso. In May 1916 he introduced Picasso to Serge Diaghilev, impresario of the Ballets Russes, and by August Picasso joined the enterprise. Picasso designed five complete ballet productions by 1924, four of them for the Ballets Russes. Theatre design encouraged his protean qualities and offered new challenges. It brought him into contact with an expanded public and with the dancer Olga Koklova, whom he married in July 1918, and professional associates in other fields. Each ballet had different demands. The first, Parade (première 18 May 1917), and the last, Mercure (première 18 June 1924), spawned the most radical ideas. Parade evolved as a collaborative effort between Picasso, Cocteau, the composer Erik Satie and the choreographer Léonide Massine. The self-referentially theatrical scenario drawn from popular entertainment afforded Picasso scope for his first major juxtaposition of Cubism (the décor) and naturalism (the drop curtain) and his most comprehensive retrospective of imagery to date. Large Cubist constructions were worn as body masks by several ‘Managers’. Costumes for other characters employed found elements or refashioned the image of the body in terms of art (see fig.).

Later Ballets Russes projects adopted more unified, decorative use of pictorial conventions and extended theatrical self-consciousness by displacing the action to a stage within a stage. Diaghilev’s rejection of some sketches gave Picasso a taste of the constrictions of commercial collaboration. For Mercure, staged as part of the Soirées de Paris, an enterprise sponsored by Etienne, Comte de Beaumont (1883–1956), he devised several moving tableaux with ‘poses plastiques’ by Massine and music by Satie. Mercure baited audience taste with a grotesque parody of Classical mythology and seriously challenged conventional dance theatre, quite literally absorbing the dancers into the visual conception of the stage. Picasso also designed a set for Cocteau’s adaptation of Antigone (Dec 1922), his only work for the dramatic theatre during this period; the couturier Coco Chanel (1883–1970) supplied the costumes.

Pablo Picasso: costume design of the Chinese for Parade, 1917 (Paris, Théâtre Archive Champs-Elysées); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Giraudon/Art Resource, NY

Theatre design sanctioned Picasso’s use of style as a convention in the painter’s vocabulary, as an element that could be donned and put aside like a theatrical role, costume or mask. His contact with dance may also have encouraged him to look more closely at bodily gesture and to explore an imagery of motion. Encouraged by Koklova’s bourgeois aspirations, Picasso also assumed a new way of life, moving into a more elegant apartment on the Rue La Boëtie in November 1918, spending time in fashionable resorts, associating with socialites and appearing in fancy dress costume as a matador at one of the Comte de Beaumont’s parties.

(ii) ‘Three Musicians’.

Pablo Picasso: Three Musicians, oil on canvas, 2.01×2.23 m, 1921 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY

In spite of the pressures on his time of both his theatre work and social life, Picasso maintained his ambitions as a painter. Cubism continued to inform his work, but his last large pronouncements of pure Synthetic Cubist order were two versions of Three Musicians (1921; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A., and New York, MOMA). The tightly interlocked, decoratively detailed and visually punning Philadelphia version contrasts with the New York version’s more enigmatic treatment set in a shallow spatial stage. The commedia dell’arte characters, besides referring to Picasso’s past imagery and to his current theatrical preoccupations, may also form part of a tribute to a specific period in his life. According to Reff (1980), Harlequin represents Picasso; Pierrot stands for Apollinaire, who had died on 9 November 1918; and the monk-like figure is a substitute for Max Jacob, who went into seclusion at the Benedictine abbey at St Benoît-sur-Loire in June 1921 and at whose baptism in 1915 Picasso had acted as godfather.

(iii) Classicism in the 1920s.

During the 1920s, concurrent with his continuing investigations of Cubism, Picasso devised a personal form of neo-classicism. Cocteau referred to such retrospective tendencies in the arts after World War I as a ‘rappel à l’ordre’; Picasso, however, had entertained such alternatives to Cubism as early as 1914. As a counterpart to Three Musicians he produced Three Women at the Spring, also in two versions (1921; New York, MOMA and Paris, Mus. Picasso, 74), referring directly to Classical precedent in the physiognomy and garb of the figures and in the massively volumetric suggestion of carved high relief. Not all the classicizing works so directly evoke a golden age; monumental forms are sometimes clothed in modern dress (see fig.), Classical gravity and order are sometimes unsettled (as in Still-life with Pitcher and Apples, 1919; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 64), and some works display a delicate linear lyricism or more elastic distortions. During this period Picasso also paraphrased and parodied work by Manet and the Le Nain brothers, for example The Happy Family, after Le Nain (1917–18; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 56). A soft-focus naturalism, sometimes alluding to Renoir or Corot, served for numerous portraits of Olga and of their son Paulo (b 4 Feb 1921).

Picasso travelled more extensively than before during these years. From February to April 1917 he was in Rome for the preparations of Parade and from there visited Naples and Pompeii. This direct experience of Italy and Roman Antiquity may have encouraged his classicizing investigations. In June and July of the same year he accompanied the Ballets Russes to Madrid and Barcelona and in May 1919 to London. He spent his summers in fashionable seaside towns: Biarritz, Saint-Raphaël, Juan-les-Pins, Dinard, Cap d’Antibes and Monte Carlo. While he lost his two closest friends, Apollinaire and Jacob, he made new acquaintances of a younger generation, such as fellow Spaniard Joan Miró in 1919 and the American Gerald Murphy. His friendship was also courted by poets such as Cocteau and the burgeoning Surrealists Louis Aragon and André Breton.

Pablo Picasso: Three Women at the Spring, oil on canvas, 2.04×1.74 m, 1921 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY

Despite the fluctuation in prices brought about by sales in 1921 and 1923 of the Uhde and Kahnweiler collections sequestered by the French government, Picasso’s reputation prospered. He showed pre-Cubist works in a joint exhibition with Matisse at the Galerie Paul Guillaume (Jan–Feb 1918) and had several exhibitions at Paul Rosenberg’s gallery (1919, 1920 and 1924); he also exhibited in Rome, Munich and New York. His illustrations were published in books by his poet friends, and the first monograph on his work, by Maurice Raynal, appeared in German in 1921 and in French translation in 1922.

4. Interactions with Surrealism, 1925–35.

Pablo Picasso: The Dance, oil on canvas, 2.15×1.43 m, 1925 (London, Tate); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Tate, London/Art Resource, NY

André Breton, the chief theorist and promoter of Surrealism, claimed Picasso as ‘one of ours’ in his article ‘Le Surréalisme et la peinture’, published in the fourth issue of Révolution surréaliste (1925); the Demoiselles was first reproduced in the same issue. At the first Surrealist group exhibition (Nov 1925) Picasso showed some of his Cubist works. He never yielded completely to the concept of ‘psychic automatism in its pure state’ as defined in the first Manifeste du surréalisme—poisson soluble (Paris, 1924), but the movement did lead him to a new imagery and formal vocabulary for emotional expression, releasing the violence, the psychic fears and the eroticism that had been largely contained or sublimated since 1909. This shift towards a more overt expressiveness was heralded by The Dance (1925; London, Tate). Although it emerged from studies related to the ballet and was dependent on Cubism for its conception of space, the fusion of ritual and abandon in the imagery recalls the primitivism of the Demoiselles and the elusive psychological resonances of his Symbolist work. Resurrecting the memory of Casagemas, it also prefigures Picasso’s ritually staged Crucifixion (1930; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 122). Numerous images of women with devouring maws coincide with the breakdown of Picasso’s marriage to Olga (see fig.), while polymorphously eroticized figures can be associated with a new liaison with Marie-Thérèse Walter, whom he met in 1927, although she did not openly appear in his work until the 1930s (see fig.). Images of sexual intercourse between schematic stick figures or inflated monsters, as in Figures by the Sea (12 Jan 1931; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 131), suggest violent or ambivalent emotions.

(i) Renewed interest in Classicism.

Surrealism not only rekindled Picasso’s fascination with the primitive and the erotic but also encouraged a conflation of his abiding interests in Classicism and the bullfight. The mythical hybrid monster known as the Minotaur, half-man and half-bull, became a favourite Surrealist image and the title of a Surrealist periodical, Minotaure, whose first cover Picasso designed in 1933 (original collage, New York, MOMA). Symbolizing both destructive and creative powers, the Minotaur served Picasso as a new artistic identity. The complex etching Minotauromachy (1935; Bloch, no. 288, I–V) provokes multiple narrative and symbolic associations, ultimately stressing private meanings and never yielding a definite reading. In another etching, Model and Surrealist Sculpture (1933; Bloch 187), Picasso wittily confronts the Classical with the fantastic, revealing his growing preoccupation with artistic practice and creativity. His treatment of the theme of the artist’s studio in late Cubist paintings such as Artist and Model (1928; New York, MOMA) and more naturalistic etchings culminated in 1933–4 in the classical idyll of The Sculptor’s Studio, a subsection of 46 of the 100 etchings gathered together in 1937 but offered for sale as the Vollard Suite only in 1950. In these works the artist is represented both as a contemplator and lover of his model/muse and as an active practitioner; and, in contrast to Picasso’s own experience, the making of art is depicted as a natural and unproblematic activity.

(ii) Experiments with different media.

During these years less productive periods of painting alternated with outpourings of etchings and sculptures. In addition to the Vollard Suite, Picasso illustrated Balzac’s Le Chef d’oeuvre inconnu (Paris, 1931) for Vollard with etchings produced in 1927, Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Lausanne, 1931) for Skira and an English translation of Lysistrata (New York, 1934) for the Limited Editions Club. In spring 1926, having produced few sculptures or reliefs since 1915, he executed a group of assemblages, on the theme of guitars, out of cloth, nails and other materials, some protruding aggressively from the surface. Austere and disturbing, they were succeeded in summer 1930 by Surrealist-influenced bas-reliefs mounted on canvas and coated in sand, for example Construction with Bather and Profile (1930; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 125).

In 1921 Picasso had been approached to design a monument to Apollinaire. Finally in 1928, with the assistance of Julio González, a sculptor and trained metalworker, he realized some maquettes made of metal rods such as Figure (1928; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 264). This linear scaffolding became fleshed out with flattened metal shapes in Woman in the Garden (1929–30; Paris, Mus. Picasso), a homage to Marie-Thérèse as well as a proposal for the Apollinaire monument. Although the submissions for the monument were rejected as too radical, the renewed association with González, whom he had known since 1902, produced ten collaborative sculptures over four years in Picasso’s most fruitful artistic dialogue since the Cubist venture with Braque.

Pablo Picasso: Head of a Woman, painted iron, sheet metal, springs and colanders, 370×1000×590 mm, 1931–2 (Paris, Musée Picasso); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY

Unlike the frontal and opaque earlier Cubist constructions, these metal sculptures proposed an open three-dimensional structure that described and marked out a transparently conceived space. Although their radicality portended much for the future of 20th-century sculpture, Picasso returned to a more Classicizing conception of mass and volume in the large metamorphic bronze heads produced in 1931–2 at Boisgeloup, for which Marie-Thérèse served as the inspiration; in works such as Head of a Woman (1931–2; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 300) her features were sometimes recast into a fetishized hermaphroditic image. In autumn 1935, having produced no paintings since May, Picasso wrote some Surrealist automatic poetry; this new venture marked the end of a decade of innovation, response to younger artists, doubt, inner reliance and self-assessment.

(iii) Personal life.

The routine of Picasso’s private life at this time was also punctuated by periods of instability. He continued to spend the summer at seaside resorts, a habit he had established in the early 1920s. In 1933 and 1934 he took his family to Spain, visiting Barcelona (where he saw the Romanesque art in the Museu d’Art de Catalunya in 1934) as well as Madrid, the Escorial, Toledo and Saragossa. After considering and rejecting divorce, Picasso separated from Olga in June 1935. On 5 October Marie-Thérèse gave birth to a daughter, Maïa (María de la Concepción), named after Picasso’s sister. Although by now regarded as a major artist, he began to receive negative notices from those who perceived a decline in his more recent work. He exhibited widely, winning the Carnegie International prize in October 1930 and holding his first large retrospective at the Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, in June 1932. The proliferation of publications on his work included the monumental catalogue raisonné by Christian Zervos (first volume, 1932), followed one year later by the first volume of Bernard Geiser’s Picasso: Peintre-graveur. In July 1935, confronting fame and an apparent crisis in his work, Picasso invited his old friend Sabartés to join him as his secretary and business manager in November.

5. War years and later work, 1936–73.

(i) Spanish Civil War to World War II.

Events of the next years impelled Picasso towards more public meanings for his hitherto personal symbols. On 14 July 1936 he contributed to Popular Front festivities in France. An enlargement of a gouache, Composition with Minotaur (28 May 1936; Paris, Mus. Picasso), became the drop curtain for a performance of Romain Rolland’s play Le 14 juillet; although this belonged to a series of drawings on the Minotaur theme, the gestures and their context suggest a politicized imagery. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on 18 July 1936, the Republican government appointed Picasso director of the Museo del Prado. In January 1937 he etched The Dream and Lie of Franco I and II (Bloch, nos 297 and 298) and wrote an accompanying poem to be sold for the benefit of the Spanish Republic. The sequence of scenes depicts the General as a grotesque polyp reminiscent of Alfred Jarry’s Père Ubu.

Pablo Picasso: Guernica, oil on canvas, 3.51×7.82 m, 1937 (Madrid, Centro de la Reina Sofia); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

In January 1937 the Spanish Republican government asked Picasso to paint a mural for the Spanish pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, due to open in June. After a few preliminary sketches relating to the theme of the artist’s studio, on 1 May Picasso set to work on a vast painting, Guernica (oil on canvas, 3.51×7.82 m; Madrid, Cent. Reina Sofía), finally spurred into action by the aerial bombing by the Falangists of the Basque town of Guernica five days earlier. He then worked intensively, producing more than 50 studies and making extensive revisions on the large canvas. Dora Maar, a Surrealist artist and new companion whom he had met in 1936, photographed seven moments in the production of the final work. Guernica was installed in Paris in mid-June; redolent with political allusions, reportage and historical references, it has since attracted numerous efforts at decipherment. Although a rich mine for analysis, its success as painting or political statement has been obscured by the fact that history has turned it into an icon. Its motifs produced numerous progeny of a more personal nature, but responses to the worsening situation in Spain and preparations for war in the rest of Europe are less in evidence; one such work is Night Fishing at Antibes (Aug 1939; New York, MOMA), which adopts jarring formal devices in a ritualized image of killing and detached observation.

After the invasion of France by the Germans in 1940, Picasso lived in his Paris studio on the Rue des Grands-Augustins. Although watched by the German authorities, he was able to work and even to cast some sculpture in bronze. Skulls and death’s heads evoke the sombre mood, for example in Death’s Head (1943; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 326). Similar imagery featured in paintings such as Skull, Sea Urchins and Lamp on a Table (27 Nov 1946; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 198). Le Désir attrapé par la queue (Paris, 1945), a play written by him in January 1941, deals with the privations of the occupation through the language of poetic automatism. On 19 March 1944 it received a private reading at the home of Michel and Louise Leiris; the participants, in addition to the Leirises, included Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Dora Maar, and among the audience were the Braques, Brassaï, Jacques Lacan and Sabartés.

Shortly after the Liberation on 5 October 1944 L’Humanité announced that Picasso had joined the French Communist Party. The imagery of Massacre in Korea (1951; Paris, Mus. Picasso) and the War and Peace murals (oil on fibreboard, each 4.7×10.2 m, 1952, installed 1954; Vallauris, Mus. N. Picasso) was designed to win party approval. Picasso attended international peace conferences in Warsaw (1948), Paris (1949) and Sheffield (1950), received the Lenin Peace Prize (Nov 1950) and designed posters and a portrait of Stalin at the party’s request. From August 1947 he made ceramics at the Madoura potteries in Vallauris, partly motivated, it would seem, by political concerns. In contrast to this humble medium, however, he also produced a considerable number of bronze sculptures in the early 1950s, including some of his best-known works in the medium such as She-goat (h. 1.21 m, 1950; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 340) and Baboon and Young (h. 533 mm, 1951; New York, MOMA).

(ii) Personal life, late 1930s to 1953.

Pablo Picasso: Dora Maar, oil on canvas, 730×600 mm, 1939 (private collection); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Giraudon/Art Resource, NY

Picasso’s emotional life during this period continued to be turbulent. In the late 1930s he had liaisons with both Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar (see fig.), continuing his involvement with Maar even after meeting a young painter, Françoise Gilot (b 1921), in 1943. Gilot and Picasso began living together in 1946 and had two children, Claude (b 15 May 1947) and Paloma (b 19 April 1949). The years of Picasso’s most active involvement with the Communist Party coincided with this relationship, but Françoise left in 1953. By contrast with these unstable romantic entanglements, Picasso had a profound and durable friendship from early 1936 with Paul Eluard, a supporter of the left and a Communist Party member from 1942, which ended only with the poet’s death in 1952. Before and after World War II Picasso spent an increasing amount of time in the Mediterranean; with the purchase in the summer of 1948 of La Galloise, a villa near Vallauris, he settled more permanently in the south of France, although he retained residences and studios in Paris. His international reputation had expanded and popularized during these years, beginning in 1939 with the publication in Life magazine of photographs of him taken by Brassaï in Paris and with the exhibition Picasso: Forty Years of his Art at MOMA in New York. After the Liberation Picasso’s marketability in the media was confirmed by a film, Visite à Picasso (1948), directed by the art critic Paul Haesaerts. Picasso was granted a retrospective at the first Salon d’Automne held after the Liberation, his first Salon showing in France. In 1946 he decorated the museum in Antibes, which was then renamed in his honour. International retrospectives took place in 1953 in Rome, Milan and São Paulo. Despite his political affiliations during the Cold War period, Picasso enjoyed prosperity and worldly success.

(iii) Variations on Old Master works.

Pablo Picasso: The Maids of Honour (Las meninas), after Velázquez, oil on canvas, 1.93×2.60 m, 1957 (Barcelona, Museu Picasso); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Giraudon/Art Resource, NY

During his final decades Picasso became more obsessed with history than with the present: with earlier art as subject-matter, with his own development and with his place in art history. A watercolour and gouache after Poussin’s Bacchanale (Aug 1944; untraced) heralded numerous paraphrases and variations. Delacroix’s two versions of the Women of Algiers (e.g. 1833; Paris, Louvre; see fig.) prompted 15 paintings and 2 lithographs between December 1954 and February 1955 (e.g. 3 versions in New York, Mrs Victor W. Ganz priv. col., see Late Picasso, 1988 exh. cat., pp. 153–5). This was followed by another sequence, The Maids of Honour (Las meninas), after Velázquez (1957; Barcelona, Mus. Picasso), and series based on Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1959–61; e.g. 10 July 1961; Stuttgart, Staatsgal.; and 30 July 1961; Humlebæk, Louisiana Mus.) and on works by Lucas Cranach, Rembrandt, Murillo and Courbet. The final series, Rape of the Sabines (e.g. 4 and 8 Nov 1962; Paris, Pompidou), conflated references to Poussin and David and alluded to current international tensions; taken as a group, this was his last major political statement. In such works Picasso was not simply borrowing motifs to make up for a diminished imagination. Rather, he pitted himself in competition with his chosen references, breaking them down, recomposing them and becoming ever bolder in his marriages of imagery and style across history.

Pablo Picasso: 347 Series: No. 65, etching, 1968; © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Art Resource, NY

The Old Master took a place as a character in Picasso’s late images, in which series of works interrelate in a vestigial private narrative. Mingling with acrobats, strolling players, commedia dell’arte figures and memories from Picasso’s youth, he represents one of the many possible guises of the artist, who may also be a child genius or an impotent old man. In works such as 25.5.68 I (aquatint) his 17th-century garb recollects Velázquez or Rembrandt (Picasso referred to this character as a musketeer), and occasionally he appears as a specific historical personage; in the etchings published as Suite 347 (1968, see fig.; Bloch 1481–1827) Raphael lives out an erotic fantasy with his mistress, La Fornarina, as imagined by Picasso through Ingres. Much of Picasso’s late work equates art with the erotic, painting with sexual potency, spectating with voyeurism. The obsessive production of such images seems to rebel against the inevitable cessation of work, while some late portraits with staring and gaunt features like death’s heads starkly contrast with the erotic fantasies (see fig.). At the end of his life Picasso again became obsessively preoccupied with Eros and Thanatos, sexual love and death, which had been constant themes in the paintings of his youth.

(iv) Personal life, after 1953.

Picasso’s life was more settled in his last two decades. He met Jacqueline Roque in 1953, and she became his companion that autumn. In 1955 he purchased a new villa, La Californie, at Cannes; its studio provided the motif for some of his most spacious, light-filled paintings, such as The Studio in a Painted Frame (2 April 1956; New York, MOMA). Seeking a quieter working place, in 1958 he bought the Château de Vauvenargues, near Aix-en-Provence. The death of Olga on 11 February 1955 left him free of matrimonial ties, and on 2 March 1961 he married Jacqueline. Numerous tributes marked each year. Another film, Georges Cluzot’s Le Mystère Picasso (1955), focused on his working methods. An enormous retrospective was staged at the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais in Paris, but he rejected some of the establishment’s laurels, refusing the Légion d’honneur in 1967. In his late compulsive productivity, interrupted only by an operation in 1965, he sought to redefine art historical traditions while resisting the historical fixing of his own work. He died intestate at the age of 91.

II. Working methods and technique.

1. Style.

Pablo Picasso: Glass of Absinthe, painted bronze with absinthe spoon, 216×165×85 mm, 1914 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY

A stylistic account of the development of Picasso’s work breaks down into an untidy chronology after 1905. Picasso approached style as an object of critical investigation and as an element whose meanings could be subject to endless permutations according to its context and use. Fragments of different styles may appear in the same work (see fig.), and works of strikingly different appearance may date from the same moment. He adopted particular styles as a form of criticism. Ironically Cubism, which dispossessed the authority of style, became converted into a style by others. Semiotic analysis of Picasso’s work has focused on Cubism, and in particular on collage, as the key to the revolution from representation tied to a resemblance of appearances to the use of pictorial elements, and even style itself, as signs that take on meaning only in context. His presentation of style can be seen also as a kind of masking, not to conceal reality but to set up codes of meaning for a particular situation. Picasso periodically produced works that reflected retrospectively or critically on his position. These ‘masterpiece’ works provide lexicons to the shifts in his thinking. While Family of Saltimbanques (1905) offers a fairly traditional summation, Demoiselles (1907) dismantles the past and spawns a diverse progeny. After Guernica (1937) Picasso confronted the masterpieces of others as if to demonstrate that they, too, were not definitive.

2. Painting.

Pablo Picasso: Crucifixion, oil on wood, 515×665 mm, 1930 (Paris, Musée Picasso); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY

In Picasso’s work there is often a dialogue or overlapping from one medium to another, often involving the destruction of its previous conventions; in his collages and constructions he created hybrid forms using elements from both painting and sculpture. Painting, however, remained his preferred medium: generally oil on canvas, wood or board for larger pictures, and gouache or watercolour on paper when working on a smaller scale. He combined traditional materials such as oil paint and charcoal with unconventional ones such as sand or sawdust, sometimes scratching into the paint or building up the underlying surface with gesso. Although easels appear in studio photographs, he reportedly preferred painting with the canvas propped up at an angle or resting on a table. Dramatic variations occur in his use of colour from evocative monochrome and austere chiaroscuro to delicate pastel hues, ringing primaries and sweet and sour conjunctions. Colour served him as an expressive element, a formal device and a signifier of meaning (see fig.); he did not employ colour spatially in the manner of Matisse, but he laid increasing emphasis on colour in his later years. He painted public mural-sized works only on rare occasions (e.g. Guernica, 1937), favouring a domestic scale in his Cubist-period pictures and generally employing surfaces just over human height for his more ambitious works. He often planned major paintings in a series of preliminary drawings and sketches, through which he recorded a fertile succession of ideas in a variety of styles rather than simply mapping out a composition in the traditional manner. Such ideas might be elaborated in a series of canvases or in the course of substantially repainting a single work.

3. Sculpture.

Pablo Picasso: Woman’s Head, bronze, h. 16, w. 10-1/4, d. 10 inches (40.6 x 26 x 25.4 cm.), 1909 (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, 1995, Accession ID: 1996.403.6); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Picasso’s earliest sculptures were modelled in clay or wax, but he abandoned modelling for construction as a sculptural method from 1909 to 1928 (see fig.). His first carvings in wood (1906) emphasize the natural properties of the material, tending towards a rough, broad handling (see fig.); he returned to wood carving in some small whittled stick pieces such as Standing Woman (1931; Paris, Mus. Picasso), which were subsequently cast in bronze. He rarely employed stone but used carving techniques for both plaster and clay. After purchasing the Château de Boisgeloup for use as a studio in June 1930, he worked on a larger scale, still preferring his sculptures to remain in plaster but casting them in bronze for the sake of durability. At the Madoura potteries in Vallauris from 1947 he exploited the malleability of clay modelled in slabs and vases, which were both fired as ceramics and cast in bronze. At moments Picasso’s sculptural concerns related closely to his investigations as a painter, for example in his explorations of primitivism in 1907 and in the swollen volumes that characterized both paintings of the late 1920s and modelled heads and figures of the early 1930s.

4. Collages, papiers collés and constructions.

Pablo Picasso: Glass of Absinthe, painted bronze with absinthe spoon, 216×165×85 mm, 1914 (New York, Museum of Modern Art); © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY

Picasso’s most radical technical innovations were neither flat like painting, nor solid like conventional sculpture, but a combination of the two. In collages, papiers collés and constructions he went beyond the representation of appearances to the presentation of fragments of reality in combinations of invented shapes; the open-endedness of such juxtaposed signs of the real world was indicated by the fact that some works were never pasted down but simply left pinned. The introduction in collage and construction of materials and methods unfamiliar to fine art had precedents in non-Western art and also in European craft traditions and art made by women and in rural communities. While not inventing such methods, Picasso adapted them to his own ends as a challenge to the rules of fine art. Once Picasso had effected his revolution he produced few collages or papiers collés but continued to explore the possibilities of construction, moving from fragile materials such as paper and string to sheet metal and wood with applied colour. In various versions of Glass of Absinthe (1914; e.g. New York, MOMA) he attached sugar spoons to bronze casts of the modelled wax glass, each cast given a different surface treatment. When, with Julio González’s assistance, Picasso resumed free-standing construction in 1928, his favourite subjects were figures rather than objects, but the soldered, brazed and welded constructions often incorporated and transformed objets trouvés. More diverse materials, including plant matter and objects coated in a unifying layer of sand, were incorporated in Surrealist-influenced relief constructions in 1930. A composite method of modelling, plaster casting and construction appeared in the early 1930s, most such works being later cast in bronze. In 1962, with Picasso’s approval, a small rod Figure (h. 505 mm; Paris, Mus. Picasso, 264) of 1928 was enlarged to 1.98 m and in 1972 to a 4.07 m version in Cor–Ten steel (both New York, MOMA).

5. Printmaking.

Picasso made prints throughout his career, at intervals devoting himself intensively to the medium. He initially favoured etching and drypoint, employing both hatched shading and delicate outlines, and he purchased his own hand-press in 1907, having previously relied on the printer Eugène Delâtre (b 1864). He experimented with woodcuts only from 1906 to 1913, never sharing the enthusiasm for the medium shown by some of his contemporaries such as the German Expressionists. In 1919 he began to make lithographs, often working on transfer drawings rather than directly on a plate. From the mid-1930s he experimented increasingly with the intaglio process, manipulating aquatint and scraping for their rich tonal possibilities and eventually achieving an astonishing technical variety. Louis Fort and later Roger Lacourière (1892–1966) pulled large editions for him, and his association from 1945 with Fernand Mourlot (b 1896) encouraged his further experimentation with lithography (see Lithography, §II, 2, (ii), (c)). In 1951 he began to work with another master printer, Hidalgo Arnéra, on linocuts, which he had first tried in 1939, and from 1952 Aldo Crommelynck (1931–2008) and his brother Piero encouraged and enabled the flourishing of Picasso’s technical innovations as a printmaker.

6. Decorative and applied arts.

Picasso also involved himself with the decorative and applied arts, as early as the turn of the century designing menus, advertisements and newspaper illustrations. He produced book illustrations for friends such as Apollinaire, Jacob, Eluard and Desnos and for publishers of fine books such as Vollard and Skira. From 1948 he designed numerous posters not only to publicize his own work and exhibitions but also for friends, bullfights and peace congresses, using both lithography and linocut. As with every medium that he investigated, Picasso seriously involved himself with all aspects of his theatre design commissions. He painted parts of the scenery, offered suggestions for the development of the scenario and choreography and on at least one occasion (for Manuel de Falla’s ballet El sombrero de tres picos, also known as Le Tricorne, 1919) proposed an instrumental detail for the musical score. Once his interest in the theatre waned, however, he never returned to it with the same dedication, despite the continuing importance of theatrical imagery in his work. From 1947 to 1971 he made ceramics at the Madoura potteries in Vallauris; in addition to thrown pots that were close to sculpture in their formal concerns, he decorated mass-produced items and engraved clay slabs for multiple reproduction.

7. Collaborative work.

The emphasis on Picasso’s individuality has eclipsed the role played by other artists and craftsmen. Some of his most exciting work came out of the intense atmosphere of artistic collaboration. Although Picasso’s relationship with Braque was competitive, it was through their exchange of ideas that Cubism was formulated. Picasso’s later dismissive attitude towards his former colleague suggests anxiety over the issue of originality: yet without Derain and Gris, along with other painters, poets and dealers, the course of Picasso’s Cubism would be unimaginable. For González, the collaboration with Picasso transformed him into a major sculptor, but he in turn enabled Picasso to realize the sculptural possibilities of construction; away from González, Picasso turned to a more traditionally massive conception of sculpture. For printmaking and other more commercial projects such as ceramics, Picasso relied on craftsmen for more than simple technical advice, and from the 1960s Picasso entrusted to others the making of large-scale monuments from his maquettes; Carl Nesjar, for instance, first introduced him to the possibilities of concrete.

III. Character and personality.

In spite of Picasso’s condemnation of theory as ‘blinding’, a theoretical foundation to his work can be established as early as the 1890s, when he came into contact in Barcelona with anarchism and with the ideas of Goethe, Wagner and especially Nietzsche; Nietzsche’s ideas, together with those of Apollinaire and Jarry, sanctioned his construction of the artist–hero as a persona for himself. While not spurning the intellect, for him ideas emerged from the practice of painting itself. His political concerns showed themselves intermittently, and by no means unambiguously, in his imagery; the Blue Period pictures have been accorded anarchist associations or seen as sentimental; some newspaper fragments incorporated in Cubist works suggest a pacifist and anti-nationalist position that counters several paintings of 1912, such as Our Future is in the Air (see Zervos, ii, no. 734); and during the Spanish Civil War he made works specifically in support of the Republican cause, such as The Dream and Lie of Franco etchings (1937), while Guernica (1937) appears as a more generalized humanitarian statement. His most overt act of political commitment was his decision to join the Communist Party in 1944; in spite of Party criticism of his work, he remained a member until his death.

For all the vanguard qualities of his formal language, in his personal behaviour Picasso was sometimes motivated by superstition, from minor details such as his preservation of his nail clippings and locks of hair to the making of paintings as a means of exorcizing fears and anxieties. He made reference to magical powers and formulated myths to account for creativity, especially his own. In the obsessive production of his old age, the act of making itself seems to be fetishized as a talisman protecting him against death. Although not conventionally religious he was fascinated by primitive aspects of ritual, whether in the Crucifixion or in a contemporary bullfight; for him destruction and negation brought forth a work of art just as ritual sacrifice created the possibility of a renewal of life.

Picasso formed few close, lasting friendships; that with Sabartés was a rare example. Nevertheless he always surrounded himself with an audience of a group of friends, just as in his pictures he often surrounded his surrogate image with a community or chosen family. At moments in his artistic life friendship was vital for his work, but such friendships could be cast aside. Neither Braque nor Derain re-established their former intimacy with Picasso after World War I, and Picasso’s friendship with Gris did not prevent him from securing a commission for a theatre design at the expense of the needier artist. Picasso had known González in his youth, but in spite of their physical proximity in Paris he did not renew the acquaintance until he needed his colleague’s metalworking expertise. Initially distrustful of and competitive with Matisse, whom he met in 1906 through Gertrude Stein, he eventually formed a friendship with him towards the end of Matisse’s life. He also expressed admiration for Paul Klee, whom he visited in Switzerland in October 1937.

Pablo Picasso: Igor Stravinsky, pencil and charcoal, 620×485 mm, 1920 (Paris, Musée Picasso); © Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY

Despite some instances of embarrassing behaviour, Picasso was generally regarded as a charming man. He seemed at much greater ease with poets than with painters, both socially and in terms of their ideas. In the years leading to World War I he numbered among his closest friends Apollinaire, Jacob and Salmon, and Apollinaire’s death affected him deeply. Cocteau briefly took his place as the poet closest to Picasso, resuming their friendship after World War II. With Eluard, Picasso found a community of thought on theoretical, political and artistic matters. Picasso also formed a close friendship with the composer Igor Stravinsky (see fig.), whom he met while working for the Ballets Russes.

In evaluating Braque’s role in the formulation of Cubism, Picasso later referred to his former colleague as a ‘wife’, effectively reducing both Braque and women to insignificance. Although Olivier, Maar and Gilot made art, he was dismissive of women artists, yet he was never without female companionship. His first sexual experiences were reportedly with prostitutes, and images of bordellos and harems commingle in both his early and late work. Among his wives and mistresses only Olivier emerged relatively unscathed from the relationship: Koklova’s behaviour became extreme, Maar had a nervous breakdown, Walter and Roque both later committed suicide. Success or failure in managing his relationships also affected Picasso’s self-assurance and ability to work. He once referred to women as either goddesses or doormats, and in his imagery he used women both as objects of sensuous contemplation and as aggressive monsters carved up and distorted to a degree rarely seen in his treatment of male figures. Visual knowledge and possession of the body in its totality, especially the female body, were central to his work, acutely so in his later pictures, in which the sexual act became a metaphor for making art and voyeurism for viewing. Such general attitudes, encouraged by his culture, rather than the frequently cited personal events, are the substantial foundation for the role of women in his work. Picasso took advantage of the indulgences allowed to creative men needing a muse, even if only to destroy her in the process.

IV. Critical reception and posthumous reputation.

  • Melissa McQuillan

Picasso never suffered critical neglect. He received favourable notices from the beginning, especially for his drawing skills. During his first decade in Paris he established his critical milieu, numbering Apollinaire, Salmon, Uhde and Kahnweiler among his supporters. Early criticism employed an idealist vocabulary drawn from Symbolism; the conceptual force of his work, his Spanish origins, his intensity and personal vision were all cited in support of an interpretation of Picasso as a seer and outsider. Picasso’s resurrection of a naturalist vocabulary unsettled the admirers of Cubism during the 1920s but attracted a broader audience for his work both among critics and the public, and he began to be characterized not only as a visionary and as a genius bound to exceed or destroy systems but also as a worthy successor to the Old Masters.

Picasso never taught, but from the moment that he entered into an artistic dialogue with his contemporaries through Cubism he attracted numerous followers. Cubism not only became a stylistic formula that others continued to exploit, but also a springboard for sculptural developments by artists such as Tatlin and Lipchitz and an influence on artists as diverse as Duchamp and Matisse. Picasso’s work of the 1920s sanctioned a return to classicism among younger artists, but during the same period the artist of the Demoiselles was also claimed as one of the progenitors of Surrealism, with Miró and Masson owing him a particular debt. In the USA, too, particularly through his promotion by MOMA in New York, he became a challenging model for artists such as Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning. Even in the 1960s and 1970s, when his work seemed more remote from the concerns of younger artists, Picasso’s wider reputation remained. In the 1980s his late work, the last part of his production to be admitted to the realm of genius, came at last to be lauded for its formal inventiveness and for its assertion of Western traditions.

Art historical evaluation of Picasso’s work has been virtually paralyzed by the way in which he has come to stand for contemporary cultural paradigms of artistic behaviour and productivity. His work has often been misunderstood and caricatured outside avant-garde or modernist art worlds, yet he repeatedly demonstrated his possession of traditional skills. While he subverted formal conventions, he reaffirmed traditional Western values of subjectivity and power, particularly in his attitude towards women. His virile behaviour and flaunting of sexual conventions conformed to bohemian stereotypes, yet on the whole his way of life reassured the public of his essentially bourgeois values. His membership of the Communist Party was seen largely as a reaction against Fascism and as evidence of the humanitarianism that motivated much of his work. Within a decade of his death major exhibitions in Paris, New York and London confirmed his greatness in the form of monumental tributes to the artist. In 1985 the Musée Picasso opened in Paris, formed from works of all periods donated to the French government in lieu of estate duties, making visible for the first time the whole of the artist’s development in a single permanent collection and helping to lay the foundations for a historical revaluation of Picasso’s vast and complex production.

Writings and statements

  • Picasso, Pablo
  • Le Désir attrapé par la queue (Paris, 1945, Eng. trans. 1969)
  • Les Quatres Petites Filles (Paris, 1949, Eng. trans. 1970)
  • Brassaï: Conversations avec Picasso (Paris, 1964)
  • H. Parmelin: Picasso dit … (Paris, 1966, Eng. trans. 1969) [statements recorded by the author]
  • D. Ashton, ed.: Picasso on Art: A Selection of Views (London, 1972) [compilation]
  • M.-L. Bernadec and C. Piot, ed.: Picasso Ecrits (Paris, 1989)


  • F. Olivier: Picasso et ses amis (Paris, 1933, Eng. trans. 1964)
  • G. Stein: Picasso (New York, 1938/R 1984)
  • A. Barr: Picasso: Fifty Years of his Art (New York, 1946/R 1974) [for many years the standard work; did much to construct the image of Picasso’s art]
  • J. Sabartés: Picasso, portraits et souvenirs (Paris, 1946, Eng. trans. 1949)
  • R. Penrose: Picasso: His Life and Work (Harmondsworth, 1958/R 1971, rev. 3/London, 1981)
  • J. Berger: Success and Failure of Picasso (Harmondsworth, 1965)
  • F. Gilot and C. Lake: Life with Picasso (London, 1965)
  • A. Malraux: La Tête d’obsidienne (Paris, 1974, Eng. trans. 1976)
  • G. Ramié: Picasso’s Ceramics (New York, 1976)
  • A. Mag., 65/2 (1980) [issue devoted to Picasso; articles by M. Gedo, R. Johnson, M. Rosenthal and others]
  • G. Ramié: Ceramics of Picasso (New York, 1985)
  • P. Daix: Picasso créateur, la vie intime et l’oeuvre (Paris, 1987); Eng. trans. by O. Emmet as Picasso: Life and Art (London, 1993)
  • J. Richardson: 1881–1906, i of A Life of Picasso (London, 1991)
  • James Lord: Picasso and Dora (London, 1993)
  • K. de Baranano: Picasso: A Dialogue with Ceramics: Ceramics from the Marina Picasso Collection Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, 1998)
  • M. McCully and E. Baudouin: Ceramics by Picasso (Paris, 1999)
Catalogues raisonnés
  • C. Zervos: Pablo Picasso, 33 vols (Paris, 1932–78) [the most comprehensive]
  • B. Geiser: Picasso: Peintre-graveur, 1: Catalogue illustré de l’oeuvre gravé et lithographié, 1899–1931 (Berne, 1933, rev. B. Baer, 1990); 2: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre gravé et des monotypes, 1932–4 (Berne, 1968)
  • F. Mourlot: Picasso lithographie, 4 vols (Monte Carlo, 1949–64)
  • P. Daix and G. Boudaille: Picasso, 1900–1906: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint (Neuchâtel, 1966, Eng. trans. 1967)
  • G. Bloch: Pablo Picasso: Catalogue de l’oeuvre gravé et lithographié, 4 vols (Berne, 1968–79)
  • C. Czwiklitzer: Les Affiches de Picasso (Paris, 1970)
  • W. Spies: Les Sculptures de Picasso (Lausanne, 1971, Eng. trans. 1972; rev. with C. Piot as Picasso: Das plastische Werk, Stuttgart, 1983) [served as a catalogue for exhibition in Berlin and Düsseldorf]
  • G. Ramie: Céramique de Picasso (Paris, 1974, rev. 1984, Eng. trans. 1975)
  • P. Daix and J. Rossellet: Le Cubisme de Picasso: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre, 1907–1916 (Neuchâtel, 1979, Eng. trans. 1979)
  • S. Goeppert, H. Goeppert-Frank and P. Cramer: Pablo Picasso: Catalogue raisonné des livres illustrés (Geneva, 1983)
  • B. Baer: Picasso: Peintre-graveur, iii: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre gravé et des monotypes, 1935–1945, suite aux catalogues de Bernhard Geiser (Berne, 1986)
Museum and exhibition catalogues
  • Picasso: Forty Years of his Art (exh. cat., ed. A. H., Barr jr; New York, MOMA, 1939)
  • Hommage à Pablo Picasso: Peintures, dessins, sculptures, céramiques (exh. cat., ed. J. Leymarie; Paris, Grand Pal. & Petit Pal., 1966)
  • The Sculpture of Picasso (exh. cat., ed. R. Penrose; New York, MOMA, 1967)
  • J. L. Sicart: Museu Picasso, catálogo (Barcelona, 1971)
  • W. Rubin: Picasso in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art (New York, 1972)
  • Picasso: Oeuvres reçues en paiement des droits de succession (exh. cat., ed. D. Bozo; Paris, Grand Pal., 1979)
  • Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective (exh. cat., ed. W. Rubin; New York, MOMA, 1980) [one of the largest retrospectives]
  • Master Drawings by Picasso (exh. cat., ed. G. Tinterow; Cambridge, MA, Fogg, 1981)
  • Pablo Picasso: Eine Ausstellung zum hundertsten Geburtstag (exh. cat., ed. W. Spies; Munich, Haus Kst; Cologne, Josef-Haubrich-Ksthalle; Frankfurt am Main, Städel. Kstinst.; 1981)
  • Picasso’s Picassos: An Exhibition from the Musée Picasso, Paris (exh. cat., eds D. Bozo, T. Hilton and R. Penrose; London, Hayward Gal., 1981)
  • Picasso: The Last Years, 1963–1973 (exh. cat., ed. G. Schiff; New York U., Grey A.G., 1983)
  • Der junge Picasso: Frühwerk und blaue Periode (exh. cat. by M. McCully, P. Daix and others, Berne, Kstmus., 1984)
  • Museu Picasso: Catálog de pintura i dibuix (Barcelona, 1984)
  • D. Bozo, M.-L. Besnard-Bernadec, M. Richet, H. Seckel and others: Musée Picasso: Catalogue sommaire des collections (Paris, 1985, Eng. trans. 1986)
  • M. Moeller: Picasso: Druckgraphik, illustrierte Bücher, Zeichnungen, Collagen und Gemälde aus dem Sprengel Museum Hannover (Hannover, 1986)
  • Je suis le cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso (exh. cat., ed. A. Glimcher and M. Glimcher; essays by R. Krauss, R. Rosenblum, T. Reff and others; London, RA, 1986)
  • M. Richet: Musée Picasso: Catalogue sommaire des collections: II (Paris, 1987, Eng. trans. 1988)
  • Late Picasso: Paintings, Sculpture, Drawings, Prints, 1953–1972 (exh. cat., intro. M. Leiris and others; London, Tate, 1988)
  • Picassos Klassisizmus: Werke, 1914–1934 (exh. cat., ed. U. Weisner; Bielefeld, Städt. Ksthalle, 1988)
  • Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism (exh. cat., ed. W. Rubin; New York, MOMA, 1989–90)
  • On Classic Ground: Picasso, Léger, de Chirico and the New Classicism, 1910–1930 (exh. cat., ed. E. Cowling and J. Mundy; London, Tate, 1990)
  • Picasso: Une Nouvelle Dation (exh. cat., ed. G. Régnier; Paris, Grand Pal., 1990–91)
  • Picasso jeunesse et genèse: Dessins, 1893–1905 (exh. cat., ed. B. Léal; Paris, Mus. Picasso; Nantes, Mus. B.-A.; 1991–2)
  • Picasso and Things (exh. cat., ed. J. S. Boggs; Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.; Paris, Grand Pal.; 1992)
  • Picasso 1905–1906: From the Rose Period to the Ochres of Gósol (exh. cat., ed. N. Rivero and T. Llorens; Barcelona, Mus. Picasso; Berne, Kstmus.; 1992)
  • Picasso: Le Tricorne: Dessins pour le décor et les costumes du ballet de Manuel de Falla (exh. cat., ed. B. Léal; Lyon, Mus. B.-A., 1992)
  • Corps crucifiés (exh. cat., ed. G. Régnier; Paris, Mus. Picasso; Montreal, Mus. B.-A.; 1992–3)
  • Picasso, die Zeit nach Guernica, 1937–1973 (exh. cat., ed. W. Spies; Berlin; Munich, Ksthalle Hypo-Kultstift.; Hamburg, Ksthalle; 1992–3)
  • Max Jacob et Picasso (exh. cat., ed. H. Seckel; Quimper, Mus. B.-A.; Paris, Mus. Picasso; 1994)
  • Picasso photographe, 1901–16 (exh. cat. by A. Baldassari, Paris, Mus. Picasso, 1994)
  • Picasso: Sculptor/Painter (exh. cat., ed. E. Cowling and J. Golding; London, Tate, 1994)
  • Picasso and the Weeping Women (exh. cat. by J. Freeman, Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A.; New York, Met.; Chicago, IL, A. Inst.; 1994–5)
  • Picasso in Clay: Three Decades of Ceramics from the Marina Picasso Collection (exh. cat., Santa Fe, NM, Peters Gal.; Dallas, TX, Pillsbury & Peters F.A.; 2000)
  • Picasso: 25 Years of Edition Ceramics from the Edward & Ann Weston Collection (exh. cat., San Bernardino, CA Stat U., Fullerton A. Mus. and other locations, 1999–2004)
  • Picasso, céramiste à Vallauris: Pièces uniques (exh. cat. by S. Benadretti-Pellard; Golfe-Juan Vallauris, Mus. Magnelli, 2004)
  • Picasso and Ceramics (exh. cat., Toronto, U. Toronto A. Cent.; Antibes, Mus. Picasso; 2004–5)
Specialist studies
  • R. Penrose: Portrait of Picasso (London, 1956, rev. 1971) [good photographs]
  • A. Blunt and P. Pool: Picasso, the Formative Years: A Study of his Sources (London, 1962)
  • P. Pool: ‘Picasso’s Neo-classicism: The First Period, 1905–6’, Apollo, 81 (1965), pp. 122–7
  • J. Palau i Fabre: Picasso en Cataluña (Barcelona, 1966)
  • R. Rosenblum: ‘Picasso as Surrealist’, Artforum, 5/1 (1966), pp. 41–4
  • D. Cooper: Picasso théâtre (Paris, 1967, Eng. trans. 1968) [only study devoted to theatre design]
  • P. Daix: ‘La Période bleue de Picasso et le suicide de Carlos Casagemas’, Gazette des beaux-arts [suppl. is Chron. A.], n.s. 5, 69 (1967), pp. 239–45
  • P. Pool: ‘Picasso’s Neo-classicism: Second Period, 1917–25’, Apollo, 85 (1967), pp. 198–207
  • K. Gallwitz: Picasso at 90: The Late Work (London, 1971)
  • L. Steinberg: Other Criteria (New York, 1972) [contains three important articles: ‘Picasso’s Sleepwatchers’, ‘The Skulls of Picasso’, ‘The Algerian Women and Picasso at Large’]
  • R. Penrose and J. Golding, eds: Picasso in Retrospect (New York, 1973/R 1980) [articles by D.-H. Kahnweiler, T. Reff, R. Rosenblum, J. Golding and others]
  • R. Johnson: ‘Picasso’s Old Guitarist and the Symbolist Sensibility’, Artforum, 13/4 (1974), pp. 56–62
  • R. Penrose: ‘Picasso’s Portrait of Kahnweiler’, Burlington Magazine, 116 (1974), pp. 124–33
  • J. Withers: ‘The Artistic Collaboration of Pablo Picasso and Julio González’, A.J. [New York], 35 (1975–6), pp. 107–14
  • P. Daix: La Vie de peintre de Pablo Picasso (Paris, 1976)
  • E. Lipton: Picasso Criticism, 1901–1939: The Making of an Artist–Hero (London, 1976) [excellent study of critical reception]
  • G. Schiff, ed.: Picasso in Perspective (Englewood Cliffs, 1976) [useful compilation of critical writing]
  • M. Marrinan: ‘Picasso as an “Ingres” Young Cubist’, Burlington Magazine, 119 (1977), pp. 756–63 [discusses role of Ingres in relation to 1907 paintings]
  • M. McCully and R. McVaugh: ‘New Light on Picasso’s La Vie’, Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, 65/2 (1978), pp. 66–71 [analyses information from X-ray photographs]
  • L. Steinberg: ‘Resisting Cézanne: Picasso’s Three Women’, Art in America [cont. as A. America & Elsewhere; A. America], 66/6 (1978), pp. 114–33 [first article in a debate with W. Rubin over the significance of Three Women]
  • R. H. Axsom: ‘Parade’: Cubism as Theater (New York, 1979)
  • W. Rubin: ‘Pablo and Georges and Leo and Bill’, Art in America [cont. as A. America & Elsewhere; A. America], 67/2 (1979), pp. 128–47 [final part of a debate with L. Steinberg]
  • L. Steinberg: ‘The Polemical Part’, A. America., 67/2 (1979), pp. 115–27 [part of debate with Rubin]
  • J. S. Boggs: ‘Picasso and Communism’, Artscanada, 236–7 (1980), pp. 31–6
  • M. M. Gedo: Picasso: Art as Autobiography (Chicago, 1980) [a psychoanalytical biography]
  • K. H. Keen: ‘Picasso’s Communist Interlude: The Murals of War and Peace’, Burlington Magazine, 122 (1980), pp. 464–70
  • R. Krauss: ‘Re-presenting Picasso’, Art in America [cont. as A. America & Elsewhere; A. America], 68/10 (1980), pp. 91–6 [semiotic analysis]
  • L. Nochlin: ‘Picasso’s Color: Schemes and Gambits’, Art in America [cont. as A. America & Elsewhere; A. America], 68/10 (1980), pp. 105–23, 177–83 [unique discussion of role of colour]
  • J. Palau i Fabre: Picasso vivent, 1881–1907: Infantesa i primera joventut d’un demiürg (Barcelona, 1980, Eng. trans. 1981)
  • M. Rosenthal: ‘The Nietzschean Character of Picasso’s Early Development’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 55/2 (1980), pp. 87–91
  • E. F. Fry: ‘Book Review: Pierre Daix and Jean Rosselet: Picasso: The Cubist Years, 1907–1916’, A.J. [New York], 41 (1981), pp. 91–9 [some useful revisions to the catalogue]
  • M. McCully, ed.: A Picasso Anthology: Documents, Criticism, Reminiscences (London, 1981) [compilation of criticism including articles otherwise difficult to find]
  • L. Morris: ‘Painting Picasso Red’, The Guardian (12 Sept 1981), p. 9 [discusses Picasso’s visit to Britain to attend Sheffield Peace Congress]
  • S. G. Galassi: ‘Picasso’s The Lovers of 1919’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 56/6 (1982), pp. 76–82
  • P. H. Tucker: ‘Picasso, Photography, and the Development of Cubism’, Art Bulletin, 64 (1982), pp. 289–99
  • S. Le Men: ‘Eluard et Picasso’, Gazette des beaux-arts [suppl. is Chron. A.], n.s. 5, 101 (1983), pp. 113–24
  • M. Rosenthal: ‘Picasso’s Night Fishing at Antibes: A Meditation on Death’, Art Bulletin, 65 (1983), pp. 649–58
  • M. Leja: ‘Le Vieux Marcheur and Les Deux Risques: Picasso, Prostitution, Venereal Disease and Maternity, 1899–1907’, Art History, 8 (1985), pp. 68–81 [suggests political context for early paintings]
  • N. Staller: ‘Early Picasso and the Origins of Cubism’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 61/1 (1986), pp. 80–91
  • Y.-A. Bois: ‘Kahnweiler’s Lesson’, Representations, 18 (1987), pp. 33–68 [semiotic study]
  • F. Frascina: ‘Picasso’s Art: A Biographic Fact?’ Art History, 10 (1987), pp. 401–15 [book review of Je suis le cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso; good critique of biographical and semiotic approaches]
  • P. Daix: ‘Les Trois Périodes de travail de Picasso sur Les Trois Femmes (automne 1907–automne 1908), les rapports avec Braque et les débuts du cubisme’, Gazette des beaux-arts [suppl. is Chron. A.], 6th ser., 111 (1988), pp. 141–54
  • P. Leighton: Re-ordering the Universe: Picasso and Anarchism, 1897–1914 (Princeton, 1989)
  • L. Steinberg: ‘La Fin de la partie de Picasso’, Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, 27 (1989), pp. 10–38
  • P. Leighton: ‘The White Peril and l’art nègre: Picasso, Primitivism, and Anticolonialism’, Art Bulletin, 72/4 (1990), pp. 609–30
  • M.-L. Bernadac: ‘Le Christ dans l’arène espagnole: La corrida dans l’écrits de Picasso’, Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, 38 (1991), pp. 58–75
  • T. A. Burgard: ‘Picasso and Appropriation’, Art Bulletin, 73/3 (1991), pp. 479–94
  • D. Hollier: ‘Anch’io son scittore: Notes autour de Picasso poète’, Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, 38 (1991), pp. 92–106
  • L. Marin: ‘Dans le laboratoire de l’écriture-figure’, Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, 38 (1991), pp. 76–91
  • D. M. Rothschild: Picasso’s ‘Parade’: From Street to Stage (New York and London, 1991)
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
  • P. Daix: ‘Il n’y a pas “D’Art Nègre” dans Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’, Gazette des beaux-arts [suppl. is Chron. A.], n.s. 5, 76 (1970), pp. 247–69 [position later retracted, but still useful points of argument]
  • L. Steinberg: ‘The Philosophical Brothel, Part 1’, ARTnews, 71/5 (1972), pp. 20–29, rev. in October, 44 (1988), pp. 7–74; ‘The Philosophical Brothel, Part 2’, 6, pp. 38–47 [psychological study of Demoiselles]
  • R. Rosenblum: ‘The Demoiselles d’Avignon Revisited’, ARTnews, 72/4 (1973), pp. 45–8
  • R. Johnson: ‘The Demoiselles d’Avignon and Dionysian Destruction’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 55/2 (1980), pp. 94–101
  • R. Johnson: ‘Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon and the Theatre of the Absurd’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 55/2 (1980), pp. 102–13 [discusses the role of A. Jarry]
  • Y.-A. Bois: ‘Painting as Trauma’, Art in America [cont. as A. America & Elsewhere; A. America], 76/6 (1988), pp. 130–41, 172–3
  • Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 2 vols (exh. cat. by H. Seckel, L. Steinberg, W. Rubin, P. Daix and others; Paris, Mus. Picasso; Barcelona, Mus. Picasso; 1988); rev. and trans. in Studies in Modern Art, 3 (New York, 1994)
  • D. Lomas: ‘A Canon of Deformity: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Physical Anthropology’, Art History, 16/3 (1993), pp. 424–46
  • A. Chave: ‘New Encounters with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon: Gender, Race, and the Origins of Cubism’, Art Bulletin, 76/4 (1994), pp. 597–612
  • R. Arnheim: Picasso’s ‘Guernica’: The Genesis of a Painting (London, 1962) [first monograph on Guernica; uses perceptual psychology in analysis]
  • W. Darr: ‘Images of Eros and Thanatos in Picasso’s Guernica’, A.J. [New York], 25 (1966), pp. 338–46 [applies Freudian psychology]
  • A. Blunt: Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ (London, 1969) [more art historical than Arnheim’s study]
  • H. B. Chipp: ‘Guernica: Love, War and the Bullfight’, A.J. [New York], 33 (1973–4), pp. 100–15 [examines personal significance of imagery]
  • E. Fisch: Picasso: ‘Guernica’ (Freiburg, 1983) [proposes general allegorical and symbolic meanings]
  • W. Hofmann: ‘Picasso’s Guernica in its Historical Context’, Artibus et historiae, 7 (1983), pp. 141–69 [relates Guernica to art historical and contemporary context]
  • P. Tuchman: ‘Guernica and Guernica’, Artforum, 21/8 (1983), pp. 44–51
  • J. Held: ‘How Do the Political Effects of Pictures Come About? The Case of Picasso’s Guernica’, Oxford Art Journal, 11/1 (1988), pp. 33–9
  • E. Opler, ed.: Picasso’s Guernica (New York and London, 1988)
  • H. Chipp: Picasso’s Guernica: History, Transformations, Meanings (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1988; London, 1989)
Subject-matter and iconography
  • R. Kaufmann: ‘Picasso’s Crucifixion of 1930’, Burlington Magazine, 111 (1969), pp. 553–61 [stimulating study of role of Surrealism in this painting’s imagery]
  • T. Reff: ‘Harlequins, Saltimbanques, Clowns and Fools’, Artforum, 10/2 (1971), pp. 30–43
  • B. Barr-Sharrar: ‘Some Aspects of Early Autobiographical Imagery in Picasso’s Suite 347’, Art Bulletin, 54 (1972), pp. 516–33
  • R. Johnson: ‘Picasso’s Musical and Mallarméan Compositions’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 51/5 (1977), pp. 122–7
  • R. Johnson: ‘Picasso’s Parisian Family and the Saltimbanques’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 51/5 (1977), pp. 90–95 [good contextualization of personal meanings in this major composition]
  • C. Ratcliff: ‘Picasso’s Harlequin: Remarks on the Modern’s Harlequin’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 51/5 (1977), pp. 124–6
  • T. Reff: ‘Picasso’s Three Musicians: Maskers, Artists and Friends’, Art in America [cont. as A. America & Elsewhere; A. America], 68/10 (1980), pp. 124–42 [associates imagery with biography]
  • L. A. Smith: ‘Iconographic Issues in Picasso’s Woman in the Garden’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 56/5 (1982), pp. 142–7
  • G. K. Fiero: ‘Picasso’s Minotaur’, Art International, 26/5 (1983), pp. 20–30
  • W. Rubin: ‘From Narrative to “Iconic” in Picasso: The Buried Allegory in Bread and Fruit Dish on a Table and the Role of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’, Art Bulletin, 65 (1983), pp. 615–49
  • S. Stich: ‘Picasso’s Art and Politics in 1936’, i) Art Magazine: A Bi-monthly Review of the Visual Arts, ii) Arts Magazine [prev. pubd as Arts [New York]; A. Dig.], 58/2 (1983), pp. 113–18 [important study of political imagery prior to Guernica]
Papiers collés, collages and graphic works
  • C. Zervos: Dessins de Picasso, 1892–1948 (Paris, 1949)
  • H. Bolliger: Picasso’s ‘Vollard Suite’ (London, 1956)
  • A. Horodisch: Picasso as Book Artist (London, 1962)
  • J. K. Foster: The Posters of Picasso (New York, 1964)
  • B. Geiser and H. Bolliger: Picasso: His Graphic Work, i: 1899–1955 (London, 1966)
  • Picasso: Sixty Years of his Graphic Works (exh. cat., intro. D. H. Kahnweiler and B. Geiser; Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A., 1966)
  • K. Leonhard and H. Bolliger: Picasso: His Graphic Work, ii: 1955–1965 (London, 1967)
  • C. Feld: Picasso: His Recent Drawings, 1966–1968 (London, 1969)
  • R. Rosenblum: ‘Picasso and the Coronation of Alexander III: A Note on the Dating of Some Papiers Collés’, Burlington Magazine, 113 (1971), pp. 604–6
  • L. Steinberg: ‘Picasso: Drawing as if to Possess’, Artforum, 10/2 (1971), pp. 44–53
  • P. Daix: ‘Des Bouleversements chronologiques dans la révolution des papiers collés (1912–1914)’, Gazette des beaux-arts [suppl. is Chron. A.], n.s. 5, 82 (1973), pp. 217–27 [seminal article for chronology]
  • G. Gosselin, ed.: Picasso: 145 Dessins pour la presse et les organisations démocratiques (Paris, 1973)
  • S. Mayer: ‘Greco-Roman Iconography and Style in Picasso’s Illustrations for Ovid’s Metamorphoses’, Art International, 23/8 (1979), pp. 28–35
  • R. Krauss: ‘In the Name of Picasso’, October, 16 (1981), pp. 5–22[applies semiotic analysis to papiers collés]
  • Picasso the Printmaker: Graphics from the Marina Picasso Collection (exh. cat. by B. Baer, Dallas, TX, Mus. A., 1983)
  • P. Leighton: ‘Picasso’s Collages and the Threat of War, 1912–13’, Art Bulletin, 67 (1985), pp. 653–72 [stimulating study of the significance of newspaper articles in papiers collés]
  • P. Gilmour: ‘Picasso and his Printers’, Print Collector’s Newsletter (July–Aug 1987), pp. 81–90
  • A. Parigoris: ‘Les Constructions cubistes dans Les Soirées de Paris: Apollinaire, Picasso et les clichés Kahnweiler’, Revue de l’art, 82 (1988), pp. 61–74
  • D. H. Kahnweiler: The Sculpture of Picasso (London, 1949) [early study: first to point out relation between constructions and African masks]
  • W. Spies: Les Sculptures de Picasso (Lausanne, 1971, Eng. trans. 1972)
  • R. Johnson: The Early Sculpture of Picasso, 1901–1914 (New York, 1976)
  • S. C. Foster: ‘Picasso’s Sculpture of 1907–8: Some Remarks on its Relation to Earlier and Later Work’, A.J. [New York], 38 (1979), pp. 267–72
  • S. Fairweather: Picasso’s Concrete Sculptures (New York, 1982) [devoted to late concrete public works; good illustrations]
  • R. Rosenblum: ‘Notes on Picasso’s Sculpture’, ARTnews, 82/1 (1983), pp. 60–66
  • G. Ramié: Picasso’s Ceramics (New York, 1976)
  • G. Ramié: Ceramics of Picasso (Barcelona, 1985)
  • K. de Baranano: Picasso: A Dialogue with Ceramics: Ceramics from the Marina Picasso Collection, Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, 1998)
  • M. McCully and E. Baudouin: Ceramics by Picasso (Paris, 1999)
  • Picasso: 25 Years of Edition Ceramics from the Edward & Ann Weston Collection (exh. cat., San Bernardino, CA State U., Fullerton A. Mus. and elsewhere; 1999–2004)
  • Picasso in Clay: Three Decades of Ceramics from the Marina Picasso Collection (exh. cat., Santa Fe, NM, Peters Gal.; Dallas, TX, Pillsbury & Peters F.A.; 2000)
  • Picasso, céramiste à Vallauris: Pièces uniques (exh. cat. by S. Pellard; Golfe-Juan Vallauris, Mus. Magnelli, 2004)
  • Picasso and Ceramics (exh. cat., Toronto, U. Toronto A. Cent.; Antibes, Mus. Picasso; 2004–5)
General works
  • P. Daix: ‘Le Retour de Picasso au portrait (1914–1921): Une Problématique de généralisation du cubisme’, Le Retour à l’ordre dans les arts plastiques et l’architecture, 1919–1925: Actes du 2ème colloque d’historie de l’art contemporain (février 1974), St-Etienne, 1974, pp. 83–94 [important discussion about return of naturalism]
  • M. McCully: Els Quatre Gats: Art in Barcelona around 1900 (Princeton, 1978)
  • W. Rubin: ‘Picasso’, ‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, 1 (exh. cat., ed. W. Rubin; New York, MOMA, 1984) [relates Les Demoiselles to Trocadéro visit and discusses changing significance of Picasso’s primitivism and use of non-European art]
  • Douglas Cooper und die Meister des Kubismus (exh. cat. by D. Kosinki, Basle, Kstmus.; London, Tate; 1987) [Tate version in English]
  • P. Leighton, ed.: ‘Revising Cubism’, A. J. [New York], 47/4 (1988) [issue devoted to Cubism; articles by E. Fry, C. Poggi and D. Cottington]
  • Picasso and Braque: A Symposium: New York, 1992
Specialist bibliographies
  • H. Matarasso: Bibliographie des livres illustrés par Pablo Picasso: Oeuvres graphiques, 1905–1956 (Nice, 1956)
  • J. A. Gaya Nuno: Bibliografia crítica y antológica de Picasso (San Juan, 1966)
  • R. A. Kibbey: Picasso: A Comprehensive Bibliography (London, 1977)

    For further bibliography see Cubism.