Picasso was arguably the most influential artist of the twentieth century. He had some degree of influence in all styles of painting which were used during his time, and was known and respected by almost every art enthusiast on the face of the planet. Pablo Picasso, born Pablo Ruiz y Blasco, came into the world on the 25th of October 1881 in the southern Spanish town of Malaga. Pablo was an artist from early in his life – he was a child prodigy. He began his career as a classical painter. He painted things such as portraits and landscapes. But this style didn’t satisfy Picasso, he was a free man and wanted to express himself and ultimately leave a lasting mark on art as we know it.
Picasso turned his attention to cubes. He invented Cubism – a radical art form which used harsh lines and corners to display a picture instead of the usual soft curves (see enclosed picture no. 1). Picasso won a lot of fame for his Cubist paintings, but was criticized for it also. He designed and painted the drop curtain and some giant cubist figures for a ballet in 1917. When the audience saw the huge distorted images on stage, they were angry, they thought the ballet was a joke at their expense. Cubism lived on despite this. Other artists mimicked Picasso’s Cubism, and it took hold. Picasso had only just begun his one-man art revolution.
In the late 1920s, Picasso fixed himself upon an even more revolutionary art form – Surrealism. Surrealism emphasized the role of the unconscious mind in creative activity. Surrealists aimed at creating art from dream, visions, and irrational impulses. Their paintings shocked the world – particularly Picasso’s – it was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. Picasso saw his newly found art form as a kind of “painted literature” or sign language. He took advantage of this fact and also the fact that he was extremely famous, to make a few political statements, statements that would go down in history.
1936 saw the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Fascist revolutionaries, led by Francisco Franco took hold of Spain and imposed a fascist dictatorship upon the country. Due to poor economic control and disregard for the people on the part of the Fascists, the country went through hell. The unemployment rate was phenomenal. The majority of the population were peasants and lived in appalling conditions.