The first astonishing thing about Pablo Picasso is his full name – Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso. He was born in Málaga to José Ruiz a drawing teacher and María Picasso, whose surname he used as his artistic signature.
At the age of 14 his father, recognizing his extraordinary talent, handed all his painting tools to his son and resolved never to paint again. Picasso quickly moved from art school in Madrid to Barcelona where he joined the modernist bohemian movement. He spent what is known as his “blue period” travelling between Barcelona and Paris. On a personal level this period was marked by his harsh living conditions and the suicide of his best friend Carlos Casagemas.
Picasso found the first love of his life in the artist’s model Fernande Olivier with whom his behaviour was obsessive and jealous, even removing her shoes to prevent her from leaving the house. This was followed by his artistic period known as cubism, during which his second lover Eva died and he commenced a third romantic relationship with Gabrielle Depeyre.
Picasso’s life took a different turn on falling in love with and marrying the Russian ballerina Olga Kokhlova and working on scene craft for the Russian ballet and for the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla on the costumes and scenery for his ballet “The Three-cornered Hat”. This was a period of peace and prosperity in which his artistic work and genius was recognized at all levels of society and his first son Pablo was born. However, in 1927 Picasso embarked on a secret affair with a 17-year-old French girl which complicated his life once more. María-Therése became his new muse and bore his second child, Maya.
In 1937 Picasso was asked to work on the Spanish Republic’s stand at the International Exhibition in Paris, and for this he produced his more famous painting “Guernica”. In 1946 Picasso briefly joined the French communist party and designed its famous dove of image for the Paris peace conference of 1949.
Pablo Picasso remained a prolific artist and sculptor to the end of his days. His personal life consisted of innumerable relationships and affairs in which he was controlling and chauvinistic. He died in France in 1973 and will always be known as one of the greatest artists the world has ever known. His Guernica painting was returned to Spain from the United States in 1981 after the death of Franco, fulfilling Picasso’s wishes that it be returned to the Spanish people when democracy was restored.