Author: George Baxter
“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality”. These were the words spoken by child prodigy Pablo Picasso – a Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist and ceramist who is considered by many to be the 20th century’s best art genius. No other artist of the modern period achieved the range of influence which Picasso reached over twentieth century abstract art. Picasso is in all probability best known for the part he played in pioneering and developing Cubism. Picasso entered into marriage twice and was the father of four children, three of which were born outside wedlock.
Born in Malaga, Spain on October 25, 1881, Pablo Picasso was the son of a painter by the name of Don José Ruiz Blasco. His mother’s name was Doña Maria Picasso y Lopez. From a young age Picasso showed an exceptional talent for drawing. His father, realizing Picasso’s outstanding talent handed over his palette and brushes to him and swore to never again paint as long as he lived. In 1895 Picasso’s family moved to Barcelona. Picasso – aged 14 – took only one day to pass the entrance examination for the higher class at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts.
Picasso had his first exhibition in 1900 in Barcelona. That same year, he went to Paris – where he settled in 1904 – and his creativity flourished. The period from 1900 to 1904 was known as his ‘Blue Period’. This period of Picasso’s art is characterized by the utilization of different blue shades. These shades underlined the miserable lives of his subjects; he portrayed beggars, prostitutes and alcoholics. The suicide of Carlos Casagemas, Picasso’s friend; and Picasso’s trip to Spain were the stimuli for his Blue Period. His abstract art works during this period included a portrait of Cassagemas after his death, The Frugal Repast (1904) and Portrait of Soler.
The years 1905 and 1906 saw Picasso shifting from the dark Blue Period to a cheery Rose Period, featuring pink and orange colours and with circus-associated subjects. Most of Picasso’s abstract art paintings during the Rose Period were influenced by the affectionate relationship he had with Fernande Olivier. Following numerous variations and studies, Picasso came out with ‘Les demoiselles d’Avignon’, – his first Cubist work in 1907. African artefacts were the inspiration for this painting which critics considered to be only a copy of African ethnic art. In the following years Picasso along with his new artist friend Georges Braque explored the prospects of Cubism.
Picasso’s abstract art phase from 1908 to 1911 was an Analytic Cubism phase. He and Braque created landscape Cubist paintings using neutral colours and monochromatic browns. The Analytic Cubism phase was followed by the Synthetic Cubism phase which lasted up to 1919. Picasso produced his most celebrated art work ‘Guernica’ during his surrealist and neoclassical phase. For many, this large work done while the Spanish Civil War was in progress; was a depiction of the inhumanity, despair and violence of war.
Picasso was one of the participants in a sculpture exhibition held in 1949, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His final works incorporated a variety of styles and were more expressive and colourful. Pablo Picasso passed away, aged 91, on the 8th of April, 1973 in Mougins, France.
Author: Jane Hannington
The new Saatchi Gallery just off the trendy Kings Road in Chelsea is already becoming a “must see” destination for visitors to London.
Admission is free to this amazing display of contemporary art.
The imposing location at the Duke of York HQ is just a few minutes walk down Kings Road from Sloane Square underground station and just 10 minutes walk from Victoria station.
Currently on display is a stunning exhibition of pictures, sculptures and installations by 24 of China’s leading artists – mainly based in Beijing. Many of these innovative works are stunning and thought provoking and even humorous.
Of note are some very realistic wax sculptures including one of an elderly angel lying prone with realistic fleshy “poultry-looking” wings which appear to be almost real. There are some witty paintings of Chairman Mao in unlikely locations including Venice (enjoying the sun with a bikini-clad companion), the Yalta Conference, the McCarthy hearings and riding in an open carriage with the Queen Mother.
In the basement is a hypnotic installation of life-size elderly state leaders, past and present, including Archbishop Makarios and Fidel Castro. These ancient characters are displayed in their declining years slumped in motorised wheelchairs. They move and collide randomly in the space providing a strangely mesmerising display.
Outside on the plaza is an open air café and on Saturdays in the plaza there is Chelsea market – a veritable bustling melee of stalls cooking and selling delicacies from many of the major cuisines of the world. The aroma from the wonderful food permeates the square where you can buy delicious produce such as French cheeses, juices, Middle Eastern, Thai and Spanish food, as well as organic meat, whole food wraps and good Olde English pies.
A trip to London is not complete without a Saturday stroll in this bustling area of London. You can shop in the eclectic collection of designer boutiques, enjoy good food and complete your day with a memorable visit to the excellent and unforgettable Saatchi Gallery.