Considered as the 'father of Cubist art, most of the world knows him only as 'Picasso,' and His real name is a real tongue twister - Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso - a whopping 23 words!
Picasso’s father, José Ruiz y Blasco, a painter and art teacher, was Picasso's first major indluence. He began teaching his son when Picasso was 7 years old. Picasso's father was a strict academic who believed that artists should learn by copying the great masters. Two years later, Picasso completed his first painting, 'The Picador'. By the age of 13, he began studies at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, where his father taught. Apparently, Picasso's father was in great awe of his son’s talent. When his son painted over one of his father's unfinished sketches of a pigeon, his father was so impressed by the work that he declared he would give up painting, as his son had surpassed him!
More Than Just a Painter
Picasso is known for his paintings, but he was also a sculptor, ceramicist, poet, playwright, and even set designer. During World War I, he began a collaboration with the Paris-based ballet company, Ballets Russes. Picasso designed Cubist-styled sets and costumes for several of their productions. Here, he also met his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, who was a dancer in the company. Although his interest in poetry came later in life, from 1935 to 1959 Picasso wrote over 300 poems. In the 1940',s he also wrote two full-length plays, Desire Caught by the Tail and The Four Little Girls. Both were surrealist works written in a stream of consciousness style.
Scandal Around the Mona Lisa
In 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. French poet, Guillaume Apollinaire, brought in as a suspect, implicated his friend, Picasso. Both men, however, were eventually exonerated. Two years later, it was discovered that an Italian Louvre employee, Vincenzo Peruggia, had stolen the painting, believing that it rightfully belonged in an Italian museum.
Picasso Was a Rule-Breaker
Throughout his career, Picasso thought nothing of breaking rules within the art world, and introducing new methods to express his creativity. For example, Picasso embraced the technique of collage. Gluing fragments of wallpaper and newspaper clippings into his paintings, Picasso was the first artist to incorporate collage into fine art.
The World's Most Prolific Painter
With a career that lasted over 75 years, Picasso used every opportunity he could to be creative. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, he created 13,500 paintings and designs, 100,000 prints and engravings, 34,000 book illustrations, and 300 sculptures and ceramics. No other artist has come close to being as prolific as Picasso.
Picasso Among the World's Most Stolen
In 2012, the Art Loss Register listed 1,147 works by Picasso as stolen. Some high profile heists include the 2010 theft of a Picasso painting, along with five works by other artists, from the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. In 2016, billionaire art collector, Wilma Tisch, sued a Florida art dealer when she realized that her 1929 Picasso painting was for sale in his gallery. Tisch’s collection was so large that she hadn’t noticed that the painting had gone missing. It had been plucked from the walls by a former housekeeper, who sold it to the dealer.
A 'Scandalous' Father
Not only did Picasso love to paint women - he loved to love women. Although married only twice, he had many lovers throughout his life, and left behind four children by three different women. Many of Picasso’s mistresses were much younger than he. In 1935, he had an affair with 17-year-old Marie-Thérèse Walter, while still married to hid first wife, Olga. Françoise Gilot was just 21 years old when she met Picasso, who was 61 at the time. They stayed together for 10 years, and had two children together.
Although Picasso had many romantic relationships, he left behind quite a dysfunctional family. His second wife, Jacqueline Roque, refused to let any his children by his mistress attend his funeral. She later committed suicide, as did Marie-Thérèse, the mistress who broke up his first marriage.
Certainly, Picasso is one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Perhaps it's true, as James Ray has written... "you’ll either pay the price for your greatness; or you’ll pay the price of mediocrity."