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Pablo Picasso was born into an artistic family, his father, Jose Ruiz Blasco, was a painter and an art teacher and gave Picasso his first art lessons. From an early age Picasso painted and drew with great energy. His paintings were filled with portraits of family members, landscapes, religious subjects, pictures of animals and bullfights, and images of sculptures.

At the age of 14, Picasso attended the School of Fine Arts, La Lonja, in Barcelona where he received a background of training in traditional art. After showing great technical abilities in his paintings the boy was enrolled at the prestigious Royal Academy of San Fernando, in Madrid. However, he only stayed a few months as he quickly grew weary of the teaching methods. The early works that he created during this time showed the classical and realistic influences of early Spanish masters such as Velazquez, and El Greco.

In Barcelona, Picasso became a part of a group of young artists that met at cafes called, Els Quatre Gats, The Four Cats. While with this young group of artists Picasso became freer in his work and his sense of design and composition began to develop. During this time he embarked on what is now referred to as his “Blue Period”. The “Blue Period” lasted from about 1901 to 1904and was a time when he painted mostly in shades of blue. His images were melancholy and depicted those living in poverty, the sick, the oppressed and the lonely. One of his most well-known paintings during this “Blue Period” is La Vie (Life).

Following the “Blue Period” in 1904 Picasso met his first love, Fernande Olivier. His style of painting began to change and pink tones began to have more dominance in his paintings. The works that Picasso produced during this period are classified as the “Rose Period’. The lines in the images became softer and the atmosphere in the paintings lighter. Picasso and a friend found inspiration for their work at the circus. Acrobats, clowns, and other circus performers filled his compositions.

Always looking for new ways to express himself on canvas Picasso never stayed with one style for very long. The “Rose Period” ended in 1906 when he and Fernande traveled to Spain and he saw ancient sculptures and began his interest in “Primitivism”. He showed interest in African art and sculpture and their distortion of figures, which eventually opened the door to the development of cubism. He began painting with brighter colors. He was influenced by fellow painter, Cezanne who developed a style of painting in geometric shapes.

Picasso worked with friend, George Braque to develop a new way of portraying the world. Instead of using the linear line of Renaissance artists with the image of a three dimensional object as the eye sees it in real life, they developed a style in which multiple angles are viewed at the same time. One of the Picasso’s early works featuring his new style of painting is Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon (The Girls of Avignon). Until about 1914 Picasso continued experimenting and developing Cubism as a painting style.

By 1912 Picasso and Braque began experimenting with more techniques and began applying everyday objects and materials into their paintings. These collages, or Synthetic Cubism, included newspaper, sandpaper, wallpaper, bottle labels and more, the materials were cut out and glued down; thus, the introduction of the collage to modern art. Picasso’s paintings during this time took on quite a change. They became a very simple series of geometric shapes on a white background. The outbreak of WWI ended the developmental period of Cubism as the mood of Europe quickly changed.

In the 1920s Picasso became involved in a group calling themselves Surrealists. The artists were interested in the world of the subconscious and dreams. In 1925 Picasso painted The Three Dancers which shows a blend of his Cubism style with the new found Surrealist style.

As events in Europe and Spain spiraled Picasso’s art became increasingly tormented reflecting the events in the world. During the Spanish Civil War Nazi bombers destroyed the Basque town of Guernica. In his painting, Guernica, Picasso depicted the horror of the event and symbolized the terror caused by war. Following this in the 1930s Picasso made many paintings that focused on suffering.

At the end of his life Picasso put his energy into reworking paintings by masters such as Velazquez, Delacroix, and Manet.