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Painting Art: Pablo Picasso – the 20th Century Genius Research Paper

The life and times of Pablo Picasso

Born Pablo Ruiz in Malaga in 1881, Picasso received early training in arts from his father Don Jose Ruiz Blasco, an art teacher in a local school of fine arts and crafts (Cirlot, 2009). The mother, Maria Picasso Lopez, also played an important role in modeling Pablo Picasso’s career. In Malaga, Picasso spent only the first ten years of his life, but he produced his first work in the city (Cirlot, 2009).

The Blasco family was not financially stable at the time, especially because Don Blasco’s salary was not enough to cater for the family. Therefore, when he was offered a better job in La Coruna, he moved with his family. Apart from Pablo, the family included two other children- Dolores (born in 1884) and Conchita (born in 1887). Here, the family lived for four years (Cirlot, 2009).

By 1894, Blasco had been convinced that his son was a genius in arts after realizing the talent in him. Despite his age, Pablo was producing amazing paintings. History states that Blasco handed over his brush and palette to the young boy in 1895 and declared never to paint again. In the same year, Don Blasco became a professor of arts in the Barcelona School of Fine Arts, where he settled with his family (Cirlot, 2009).

Here, Pablo Picasso enrolled as an art student and excelled in painting, which marked the long career of a 20th-century arts genius. For instance, his two famous works “The First Communion” and the “Science, and Charity” became popular in the institute as “academic oil paintings” (Cirlot, 2009).

Pablo’s uncle also sponsored him to study at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Barcelona, but Picasso decided to drop from the institute within a few months of enrollment.

Pablo Picasso’s work: Examining the Genius in Picasso’s Modernism and influence on Pluralism

Noteworthy, Pablo Picasso was interested in themes that reflect modern life in Barcelona and the world in general. In this way, he promoted the idea of modernism in painting. For instance, his 1901 painting “Death of Casagemas” reflects the death of Case games, his friend who committed suicide after a girl he loved denied him the love expected (Cirlot, 2009).

The tragedy shocked Picasso such that he depicted the death in his painting that used blue color. In addition, he produced another painting “Evocation- the burial of Case games”. The two paintings are important in the evolution of modernism in European arts (Cirlot, 2009).

They were made on canvas and reflected the stylistic influence on the paintings of the time. For instance, they were made in blue color with only a few other colors like black. In addition, the paintings reflected the sad mood of the events, especially because Case games was a minor (FitzGerald, 2006).

During the Blue era, Picasso moved between Paris and Barcelona and made various paintings in blue color, attempting to show the “sad mood” of the population. He selected such themes as despair, isolation, unhappiness, old age, and poverty (FitzGerald, 2006). These themes reflected the true nature of the society at the time, especially because Europe was transforming economically, socially and politically.

Most families experienced isolation because male parents were required to work for many hours in industries and other areas in order to provide for their families (Berger, 2011). The blue paintings of the era depicted gaunt mothers and children in the city.

For example, Picasso’s painting “The frugal repast” of 1904 depicts an emaciated woman and a gaunt blind man seated at a bare table, probably hoping to get food (Cirlot, 2009).

In addition, the blue paintings represent the evils caused by a number of socioeconomic factors. For instance, the subject of beggars and prostitutes is represented in some of Picasso’s paintings because they were some of the most common aspects of the transforming society (FitzGerald, 2006).

Picasso’s Rose period lasted between 1904 and 1906. The paintings in this era had a cheery style and often depicted French acrobats. In addition, they depicted harlequins, a common feature in Paris. These represent modern life in European cities, especially Paris, where acrobatics and other comic arts were popular.

Cubism is perhaps one of the most important artistic movements that define Pablo Picasso’s contribution to the modernism in arts. Picasso and his friend Georges Braque developed analytic cubism, which lasted between 1909 and 1912. They used monochrome brownish as well as neutral colors in most of the paintings (Berger, 2011). The analytical nature of cubism is characterized by the analysis of parts of objects in terms of their shapes.

For instance, Picasso’s 1909 painting “Femme assize”, made of oil and canvas, provides a good example of the works in this era. It depicts a woman sitting on a comfortable chair placed in a small room (Cirlot, 2009). She is looking at something or someone in front of her. It is likely that she was Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso’s mistress who played a significant role in promoting his career (Berger, 2011).

The brightness of the green-yellow sunlight is an indication of the freedom of color use, a major characteristic of cubism style. In addition, each of the elements of the figure, including the garments the woman is wearing, the exposed parts of the chair and the background have different colors and shapes, which is an example of the style of cubism that involved analyzing each element of an object according to its shape.

Lines and color are used to show different shapes of different objects. These aspects are also evident in several other works by Picasso in the cubism era such as “Figure dans un fauteuil,” “La Femme au pot de moutarde” and “Fanny Tellier”, which were made on oil on canvas (Berger, 2011).

Also, surrealism attempts to resolve the previously ignored contradictory conditions of reality as well as dreams. Picasso included aspects of cubism in surrealism, which increased the ability of artists to express themselves emotionally. Picasso’s work “Guernica” (1937) is a good example of his ability to apply cubism in surrealism.

These evidence prove that Picasso’s work influenced the existence of more than one social and arts culture in the 20th century. For instance, while it is agreed that he was aligned to cubism and surrealism, it is evident that Picasso never practiced his painting exclusively based on the two styles.

For example, his painting “Harlequin” was in synthetic cubism, whereas “the drawing of Vollard” was executed in the Ingresque style, which emulated the works of Jean August Dominique, a 19th-century neoclassical artist (Berger, 2011).

Picasso’s impact on modern arts and culture

Pablo Picasso’s role in promoting the 20th-century artistic movements is the work of a genius in the profession (Berger, 2011). Unlike other artists, Picasso’s first work was produced when he was a child. In fact, he created two important movements- the blue and rose movements- when he was still a young person.

In addition, Picasso never aligned himself to a single style- he founded and promoted analytical and synthetic cubism, supported realism and heavily influenced pluralism. In fact, he believed in injecting ideas and philosophies of one style into another to improve the outcomes.

In addition, he believed in reflecting the prevailing social, cultural and political issues affecting his society (Berger, 2011). These aspects explain why Pablo Picasso should be considered “the genius of the 20th-century arts”.


Berger, J. (2011). The success and failure of Picasso. London: Pantheon Books

Cirlot, J. E. (2009). Picasso, birth of a genius. New York and Washington: Praeger.

FitzGerald, M. C. (2006). Making modernism: Picasso and the creation of the market for twentieth-century art. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press

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"Painting Art: Pablo Picasso - the 20th Century Genius." IvyPanda, 23 Aug. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/painting-art-pablo-picasso-the-20th-century-genius/.

1. IvyPanda. "Painting Art: Pablo Picasso - the 20th Century Genius." August 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/painting-art-pablo-picasso-the-20th-century-genius/.


IvyPanda. "Painting Art: Pablo Picasso - the 20th Century Genius." August 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/painting-art-pablo-picasso-the-20th-century-genius/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Painting Art: Pablo Picasso - the 20th Century Genius." August 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/painting-art-pablo-picasso-the-20th-century-genius/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Painting Art: Pablo Picasso - the 20th Century Genius'. 23 August.

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