Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, also known as Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973), was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a portrayal of the Bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian air forces at the behest of the Spanish nationalist government during the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp are regarded as the three artists who most defined the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting, sculpture, printmaking and ceramics.
Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a naturalistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th century, his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His work is often categorized into periods. While the names of many of his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in his work are the Blue Period (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1904–1906), the African-influenced Period (1907–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), also referred to as the Crystal period.
Picasso was exceptionally prolific throughout his long lifetime. The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000, comprising 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.
Picasso’s early sculptures were carved from wood or modeled in wax or clay, but from 1909 to 1928 Picasso abandoned modeling and instead made sculptural constructions using diverse materials.
From the beginning of his career, Picasso displayed an interest in subject matter of every kind, and demonstrated a great stylistic versatility that enabled him to work in several styles at once. For example, his paintings of 1917 included the pointillist Woman with a Mantilla, the Cubist Figure in an Armchair, and the naturalistic Harlequin. In 1919, he made a number of drawings from postcards and photographs that reflect his interest in the stylistic conventions and static character of posed photographs. In 1921 he simultaneously painted several large neoclassical paintings and two versions of the Cubist composition Three Musicians.
Although his Cubist works approach abstraction, Picasso never relinquished the objects of the real world as subject matter. Prominent in his Cubist paintings are forms easily recognized as guitars, violins, and bottles. When Picasso depicted complex narrative scenes it was usually in prints, drawings, and small-scale works.