More about Picasso.…

Self-Portrait 1907 by Pablo Picasso

Yesterday’s post, “Wild ‘n Crazy Picasso Por­traits”, left me inspired to write a lit­tle bit more about this amaz­ing artist…

Span­ish artist, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), is often under-appreciated by peo­ple who don’t know much about him.… I usu­ally have to remind stu­dents of “Rule #1″ when teach­ing a class about Picasso for the first time! Picasso is best known for co-founding the Cubist move­ment and for the wide vari­ety of styles embod­ied in his work, but there is so much more to him than that! So here are a few “details” that I find fas­ci­nat­ing about Picasso, and will hope­fully inspire your stu­dents, too!

1. It was cus­tom­ary that Span­ish chil­dren were named after fam­ily mem­bers, and Picasso must have had a big fam­ily! His full name, given to him by his par­ents at birth, was Pablo Diego José Fran­cisco de Paula Juan Nepo­mu­ceno María de los Reme­dios Cipri­ano de la San­tísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso. Picasso was eccen­tric from the day he was born!

2. Picasso’s father was an artist and art teacher. Young Picasso showed so much nat­ural abil­ity and tal­ent that by the time he was 13 his artist father quit paint­ing alto­gether because his son had surpassed him in abil­ity. Picasso is said to be as much a child prodigy as Mozart was.

3. Before Picasso ever painted in an abstract style, he had mas­tered the art of paint­ing real­is­ti­cally. It always sur­prises stu­dents to learn that he painted both “The Artist’s Mother, Maria Picasso Lopez” andThe Altar Boyin 1896 when he was just fif­teen years old, and “Boy with But­ter­fly Net” forty-two years later when he was fifty-seven! In Picasso’s own words, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael but a life­time to paint like a child.”

4. Picasso believed that his abil­ity to paint was a “gift” that came from the out­side and there­fore he (as the artist) was only its medium, almost as if the “gift” had con­trol of him! Picasso is quoted as say­ing, “Paint­ing is stronger than me; it makes me do what it wants.”

5. When Picasso moved to Paris in 1900 (remem­ber, he was already paint­ing like Raphael!) he was liv­ing in such poverty that he would burn his art­work to heat his apart­ment. Today his work sells for mil­lions. (His paint­ing, “Dora Maar Au Chat”, pic­tured at the bot­tom of this post, recently sold for over $95 million!!)

6. Picasso pro­duced over 20,000 draw­ings, paint­ings, prints and sculp­tures dur­ing his 70 year career and became one of the most rec­og­nized fig­ures in 20th-century art. His paint­ings spanned many dif­fer­ent styles, yet even after his work became pop­u­lar, he was never afraid to change what he was doing and try new things. His style changed more over the course of his life­time than any other artist.

Learn­ing about Picasso offers a great oppor­tu­nity to talk to stu­dents about orig­i­nal­ity and the impor­tance of not wor­ry­ing about “what oth­ers will think”.… Picasso cer­tainly didn’t! Ask stu­dents why they think Picasso chose to “paint like a child” when he was capa­ble of paint­ing like Renais­sance painter “Raphael. This is a great dis­cus­sion starter!

Before teach­ing any les­son inspired by a famous artist, it’s always a good idea to learn more about that artist so you can share some inter­est­ing facts with your stu­dents. Kids love hear­ing sto­ries and see­ing pic­tures of what these artists looked like, which make them seem more “human”, rather than just a famous name they keep hearing!

Click here for more detail about Picasso’s many dif­fer­ent paint­ing styles (and always check for age-appropriateness of any art book or web site before show­ing it to children.)

 For a great kids’ book about Picasso, look for Picasso (Get­ting to Know the World’s Great­est Artists) by Mike Venezia. This fun to read biog­ra­phy includes a good selec­tion of Picasso’s dif­fer­ent styles. This is part of a series, so while you’re at it, check out some of the author’s many other books on famous artists, as well!

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One Response to More about Picasso.…

  1. Adam Trowbridge June 14, 2009 at 2:24 am #

    Hey!

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