He studied with his father, H. Ruiz, at the schools of fine arts in La Coruña, Barcelona and at the Madrid San Fernando Academy, carried away by French art, familiar from reproductions. He was influenced by anarchism. In 1900 Picasso first came to Paris, since 1904 he has been living there permanently. Exhibited since 1901 with “Aunt Weil” and with A. Vollard. At this time, he was moving away from the influence of the Art Nouveau style, which for a long time remained in the manner of emphasizing the silhouettes of figures, as well as in coloristic monochromy. Picasso elects Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec as his “teacher”. He begins to write in bright pasty strokes in the manner of protofovism.
“Blue” and “pink” periods
For the years of travel between Paris and Barcelona (1901-04), the so-called “blue period” falls: the master’s palette is dominated by blue shades. The paintings of this period are characterized by images of poverty, melancholy and sadness (Picasso believed – “who is sad, he is sincere”); people’s movements are slowed down, they seem to listen to themselves (“A lover of absinthe”, 1901; “Date”, 1902, both in the Hermitage; “Old beggarly old man with a boy”, 1903, Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow). In the next period, called “Pink”, there are scenes of friendship, admiring the beauty of a naked body. The product of the transition period – from “blue” to “pink” – “Girl on the Ball” (1905, Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow).
In 1907, Picasso created the composition Avignon Maidens (Museum of Modern Art, New York) – a large panel whose characters are visitors and girls of a brothel in the Avignon quarter of Barcelona (as the poet A. Salmon, who gave the name to the work) believed to appear as sexless creatures , some awesome idols. The work combines different stylistic manners: the pink figures of the characters are geometrized, the faces of some of them are written in a line style that imitates the techniques of African sculptors. The Avignon Maidens made a sensation, the picture laid the foundation for many experiments. The taste for sharp, destructive deformation turned out to be the banner of the new century. In 1908-09, Picasso, together with J. Braque, influencing each other, developing a new style – cubism, which became a radical turn from the search for the artistic equivalent of reality to its complete reconstruction. Neutral, mainly ocher, gray, brown and greenish tones are used, typical for Cezanne’s painting, but noticeably “heavier”, opaque; they are combined into geometric formulas, exposing some initial “prototypes” of human figures, things and the natural world (“Queen Isabo”, “Lady with a Fan”, both 1909; “Portrait of A. Vollard”, 1910, all at the Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow ; “Dryad”, “Farmer”, “Three Women”, a series of still lifes, 1909-10, the Hermitage). The first stage of cubism was subsequently called the “analytical” one. Since 1919, it is gradually reborn, and in 1913 a “synthetic” stage appears, which is characterized by a high color of forms, the desire for a planar interpretation of objects. Still lifes begin to prevail, mainly with musical instruments, pipes and tobacco boxes, notes, bottles of wine, etc. – attributes inherent in the lifestyle of artistic bohemia of the beginning of the century. A “cubist cryptography” appears in the compositions: encrypted phone numbers, houses, fragments of the names of lovers, street names, zucchini. Picasso uses collage – pasting on canvas ads, labels and newspaper clippings; over time, the volume of foreign material in the picture increases (dusting with sand, mounting pieces of wood and metal, glass fragments, the use of gypsum, etc.). In the “synthetic” period, there is also a desire for harmonization of color, balanced compositions that sometimes fit into the oval. In the future, the fascination with cubism disappears, however, some of its features continue to be preserved in the paintings until the end of the artist’s life (Three Musicians, 1921, Museum of Modern Art, New York).
Already in the painting “The Artist and His Model” (1914) and in a number of drawings, Picasso showed interest in precise contours and plastic forms. In three to four years, neoclassical and realistic trends become apparent to everyone. It bothers many: the innovator, who seduced so many artists, has returned to tradition. Critical notes about the “chameleon artist” appeared in the press. In 1917, Picasso made the scenery for the ballet “Parade” by E. Satie (text by J. Cocteau) in the “Pompeian style.” The marriage of the ballerina Olga Khokhlova, the birth of his son Paul is accompanied by a return to the world of clear, understandable, alien to the dramatic expression of forms. A trip to Italy also strengthens interest in the classics. The master makes some drawings from photographs. He departs from the grotesque manner of the 1900s, in a different way “activates” the form, as if competing with his idol of those years – Ingres (this period is often called the “Engra”).