How did Picasso produce so much work

Pablo Picasso

Who Was Pablo Picasso?

Pablo Picasso (Málaga 10/25/1881–4/8/1973 Mougins) was a Spanish painter, graphic artist and sculptor. He is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His exuberant productivity resulted in a complete oeuvre of more than 15,000 paintings, 3,200 ceramics, 7,000 drawings, 1,200 sculptures and 20,000 prints. Picasso was born in Malága as the son of the painter and drawing teacher José Ruiz Blasco and his wife Maria Picasso y Lopez. From 1901 he used his mother's name, which came from Italy, as a stage name, because he was fascinated by the two "S" and he thought it was more melodious. Picasso's fame is linked to the invention of Cubism - together with George Braques. His painting “Les Demoiselles d‘Avignon” (March – July 1907, MoMA) became an icon of modernism in the 1920s.

Childhood and earliest works

Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga on October 25, 1881, the first child of José Ruiz Blasco (1838-1913) and Maria Picasso y Lopez.

In September 1891 the Ruiz Picasso family moved to La Coruna. Four years later, José was appointed to teach at the La Lonja Art Academy in Barcelona. Therefore, the family moved to Catalonia in September 1895. In the summer Picasso visited Madrid and spent the holidays in Malaga. Small seascapes were created during a boat trip to Barcelona. In winter he created his first large picture in an academic style: "The First Communion" (Museu Picasso, Bacelona)

In the following year Pablo Picasso stayed again in Málaga, where he (for the first time) dealt with landscapes and bullfighting images. Before he passed his entrance examination at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid in October 1897, he painted “Science and Mercy” (Museu Picasso, Barcelona).


In October 1897 Picasso began studying painting at the San Fernando Academy. The child prodigy visited the traditional institution sporadically until 1899.

Picasso returned to Barcelona in May / June 1898. He spent the summer in Horta de Ebro, where his friend Pallarès lived; In addition, Picasso stayed for several months in the Santa Barbara Mountains. The young painter did not return to Barcelona until February 1899. There he became a member of the group "El Quatre Gats [The Four Cats]", where he met Jaime Sabartès and Carles Casagemas. In February 1900 Picasso exhibited “El Quatre Gats”.

First stays in Paris

→ Pablo Picasso and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Together with Casagemas, Picasso traveled to Paris for the first time in October 1900. There he moved into Nonell's former studio on Montmartre. He met the art dealers Pedro Manach and Berthe Weill and sold three bullfighting watercolors. On December 20, 1900, Picasso and Casagemas returned to Barcelona.

Picasso spent Christmas in Malága, and in mid-January 1901 he went to Madrid. There he heard about Casagema's suicide in Paris (February 17). Before Picasso himself traveled to Paris again, he spent April in Barcelona. In May Picasso went back to France and lived on Boulevard de Clichy, in the house where Casagemas had his studio. In 1901 Picasso had his first major exhibition together with Iturrino in the Paris gallery Vollard (June 25th-July 14th). During his stay, Picasso met the poet Max Jacob. That winter, Picasso presented himself in a “self-portrait” (1901, Musée Picasso, Paris). He did not return to Barcelona until the end of January 1902.

Picasso's second exhibition in Paris - together with Bernard-Lemaire at Galerie Berthe Weill (April 1-15, 1902) - was organized while he was in Barcelona. The importance of Paris for Picasso is evident from the fact that the young painter lived there again in October 1902. During this phase he developed the blue period.

Blue and Pink Periods

The precocious artist developed the so-called after the tragic suicide of his friend Casagemas Blue period, the 1906 the Pink period followed. In the Blue Period, Picasso chose beggars, mothers with children (from St. Lazare prison) and absinthe drinkers as motifs for his pictures. From 1904/05 he turned to maternity pictures, jugglers and harlequins. The characteristic blue or pink coloring of the works is interpreted as an expression of melancholy and hope. The paintings "Das Leben" and "Die Jauklerfamilie" are the main works of these first two stylistic phases in the work of Pablo Picasso.

Blue period

→ Pablo Picasso: Blue Period

For the first time, Pablo Picasso presented works from the Blue Period at the end of 1902 in a group exhibition at Berthe Weill (November 15-December 15). He spent 1903 in Barcelona. In the spring of 1903 he began work on "Life" (Cleveland Museum of Fine Arts). Picasso did not return to Paris until the autumn of 1904 and moved into Paco Durio's early studio in the Bateau-Lavoir. This year the Spaniard met Guillaume Apollinaire, André Salmon and Fernand Olivier.

Pink period

→ Pablo Picasso: Pink Period

Picasso changed his style as early as autumn 1904 and developed the so-called pink period with the help of images of motherhood. In the spring of 1905 he exhibited the first pictures of this new phase at the Serruier gallery in Paris (25.2.-6.3.). In the following spring, “Die Gaukler” (National Gallery, Washington) was created, and in the summer, during a stay in Schoorl, Holland, “The Three Dutch Women” (Musée national d'art moderne / Musée Picasso, Paris). In the autumn of 1905 Picasso got to know the collector siblings Gertrude and Leo Stein. A short time later he turned to the harlequin pictures and began the "Portrait of Gertrude Stein" (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) in winter, which was not completed until the following year.

Pablo Picasso met Henri Matisse through Getrude Stein in 1906. At the beginning of March he was able to sell most of the Pink Period paintings to the art dealer Vollard. Picasso traveled with his girlfriend Fernande Olivier to Barcelona in early May and to Gósol in northern Catalonia in mid-May. Pablo Picasso spent a few weeks there and turned to nude painting. In addition to the files with voluminous bodies, Picasso also created the painting "Two Brothers".

Invention of Cubism

The key work of modernism is Picasso's painting “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon“(1907), on which he showed figures from different perspectives at the same time for the first time. In doing so, he laid the foundation for Cubism, which was developed together with Georges Braque from 1908 onwards. Based on the ideas of Paul Cézanne and African sculpture, Picasso and Braque dismantled the objects in the picture into facets and cuboid structures. Volume and rhythm became more important than the colors, which were reduced in favor of an almost monochrome coloring. Analytical Cubism was followed by synthetic Cubism in 1912, for which the two painters used the collage method in their paintings. With their experiments, Picasso and Braque sparked a wave of enthusiasm - at least in a small group of Parisian avant-gardists. The Cubists (second rank) include Juan Gris, Robert Delaunay and Fernand Léger, who were also known as the "Salon Cubists".

Back to the classical and liaison with surrealism

From 1917 Pablo Picasso broke away from Cubism and turned to it classicism from Ingres to. The trigger was the first public presentation of "Les Demoiselles d’Avignon" and his work for the ballet "Parade" for the troupe of Sergei Diaghilev. Picasso designed the set, costumes and curtains - and met his first wife Olga (→ Picasso's first wife: Olga Picasso). After the wedding in 1918 and the end of the First World War, Picasso had advanced to become France's leading painter alongside Henri Matisse. Its international reputation had also grown enormously during the 1910s. Maurice Raynal published the first monograph on Pablo Picasso in Munich in 1921. In 1923 the first important interview by Picasso appeared in the magazine "The Arts". Christian Zervos, the founder of "Cahiers d’art" became the publisher of the catalog of works from 1932.

In 1922 Picasso met the Dadaist and surrealist poets André Breton, Louis Aragon and Tristan Tzara, whereby Breton not only sold "Les Demoiselles d’Avignon" to a patron, but also tried to hire Picasso for the Surrealism movement. The older painter had already received a visit from his younger compatriot Joan Miró in 1921. Pablo Picasso dealt with surrealism in his art and exhibited with the group without ever feeling part of the group.

Picasso's love life was lifelong marked by his exuberant masculinity, although the painter was quite pleased when two women fought over him in the truest sense of the word. In 1927 he met Marie-Thérèse Walter (1909–1977), then 15, who was first his model and then his lover. When she gave birth to their daughter María de la Concepción, known as Maya, in 1935, the affair could no longer be kept secret, and Olga left Picasso with Paulo. Between 1936 and 1943 he had a relationship with Dora Maar, followed by Françoise Gilot (1943–1953) and Jacqueline Roque, whom Picasso married after Olga's death on March 2, 1961.

First retrospectives and Guernica

The national and international fame of the painter from Spain had increased so much in the early 1930s that he became two in 1932 self-curated solo exhibitions The first retrospective at the Georges Petit gallery in Paris (June 16–30) was followed by a second at the Kunsthaus Zürich (September 11– November 13, → Picasso. The first museum exhibition in 1932). These successes were overshadowed by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Appointed director of the Prado, the Republican government commissioned him to paint “Guernica“For the Spanish World Exhibition Pavilion 1937 (→ Picasso: Guernica). During the Second World War, Picasso stayed in the south of France and joined the on October 5, 1944 French Communist Party at.

Picasso in World War II

The phase from 1939 to 1945 in Picasso's work is less known and popular than other phases in his career (→ Düsseldorf | K20: Picasso 1939–1945). What is striking about the paintings and sculptures is that they do not show any victims, weapons or fights. Instead, the artist dealt with still lifes, portraits, landscapes and nudes on a daily basis. The dark vanitas motifs of the still lifes tell of death and tragedy in their own way. This is reminiscent of an observation made by Christian Zervos. Picasso's biographer stands out for his "unparalleled ability to be enthusiastic about the things around him". Between 1937 and 1945 he counted over 2,200 paintings, which impressively demonstrates the energetic productivity of the Spaniard. And yet: the simplicity and banality of the chosen topics collide with formal violence and the destruction of the integrity of many forms. In recent research, three works have been named that directly address war: the play “How to grab wishes by the tail” (1941), the sculpture “Man with Sheep” (1943) and the painting “The Leichenhaus” (1945).

The war years from 1939 to 1945 marked a turning point in Picasso's work. In contrast to many other artists, Picasso had made a conscious decision to stay in Paris. The painter sublimated the omnipresence of death, suffering and fear in a rough, relentless and sometimes unpleasant style. What is striking are the impetuous distortions that Picasso imposed on the objects and people in his pictures. For him, the “man with sheep”, an antiheroic figure as protector of the weak and thus a counter-image to Breker's sculptures, which Picasso saw in the orangery of the Tuileries Garden in July 1942, becomes a symbol of hope. In response to this, he created “Man with Sheep”, thus succeeding Auguste Rodin's “John the Baptist”.

Although Picasso's works were defamed as "degenerate" during the Nazi tyranny in Paris - more precisely: from November 22, 1940 - and for this reason were no longer allowed to be exhibited, the painter continued to work obsessively on oil paintings and sculptures. Immediately before the start of the war on September 3, 1939, Picasso fled Paris to south-west France, but returned to the German-occupied capital in August 1940. Until the liberation of Paris in August 1944, he lived there secluded in his studio.

“I didn't paint the war because I'm not the kind of painter who tries to portray something like a photographer. But I am sure that the war made its way into the pictures I created. "1 (Pablo Picasso in an interview with Peter Whitney, August 1944)

From the “flying dove” to the dove of peace

After the Second World War, Pablo Picasso was one of the most famous living artists of his time. He took part in several world peace congresses (1948, 1950). For the World Peace Congress in Sheffield in 1950, he designed the lithograph "Flying Dove", which is known as Dove of peace became the ultimate symbol of peace (→ Picasso: the invention of the dove of peace).

Late works

From 1953 the painter of the century was honored in countless retrospectives. In his late work he then occupied himself with famous pictures from art history such as “The Women of Algiers” by Eugène Delacroix, “Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez, “The Rape of the Sabine Women” by Poussin and Jacques-Louis David or “Breakfast in the open air "After Edouard Manet (→ Picasso. Painting Against Time). However, the star painter never opened up to abstraction, although he gave impetus to some of the groundbreaking artistic developments of the 20th century:

“There is no such thing as abstract art. You always have to start with something. Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality. Then there is no longer any danger anyway, because the idea of ​​the thing has meanwhile left an indelible mark. "(Pablo Picasso on his rejection of abstraction)

Pablo Picasso and Jacqueline Roque met in 1952 when Jacqueline was an assistant to the ceramicist Suzanne Ramié (1905–1974). In the same summer, Picasso's relationship with Françoise cooled off and he returned to Paris alone at the end of October 1952. For several months he moved between Vallauris and Paris. In August 1953, at the invitation of the Lazerme couple, Picasso took Maya and Paul to Perpignan at the foot of the eastern Pyrenees, where he met the divorced Jacqueline again. After his return, Françoise separated from him and returned to Paris with the children. It was not until the following year that Jacqueline was the first model for Pablo Picasso (June and October 1954). In a series of portraits, he combined elements of cubism and the synthetic style that was characteristic of him. The portraits are conceived as formal contrasts: large-scale design (especially in the background) stands next to elaborate areas, cubist form shattering in the face and antique volumes, decorative patterns meet sparsely painted canvas. The pictures are all dated precisely to the day, which reveals the high productivity of the painter, who is now over 70 years old - but also his almost compulsive work in the studio. In September he finally separated from Françoise and moved in with Jacqueline and her daughter Catherine in Paris.

Jacqueline became the model for Picasso's modifications of the "Women of Algiers" (1954) after Eugène Delacroix (15 paintings and two lithographs), which were inspired by the death of Henri Matisse. After the death of his wife Olga (February 11th), the now world-famous artist acquired the villa "La Californie" with an extensive garden with tropical trees above Cannes. Here the documentary filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot shot the film “Le mystère Picasso” in the studio, which observes the drawing Picasso at work. One of the most important pictures of the following year is “Jacqueline in the Atelier” (April 2–8, Rosengart Collection, Lucerne), followed by the 58-part series on “Las Meninas” (August 17–30) by Diego Velázquez, Portraits of Jacqueline as "Lola from Valence" by Edouard Manet.

In September 1958, Picasso exchanged the “Villa Californie” for Vauvenargues Castle, as more and more onlookers wanted to see the “Picasso myth”. Vauvenargues Castle is located at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire near Aix-en-Provence. From June 1961 Picasso's last place of work and life was to be the Villa Notre-Dame-de-Vie near the village of Mougins in the mountains above Cannes. Shortly before, on March 2, 1961, he and Jacqueline had married. In the following year, on 6.January “Seated Woman with a Yellow-Green Hat” (6.1.1962, Catherine Hutin-Blay Collection), followed this year by over 70 portraits in the media of painting, drawing, ceramics and graphics. In the following eleven years, which Picasso remained until his death on April 8, 1973, his work revolved around the Old Masters - such as Rembrandt van Rijn - and Jacqueline. On the evening before his death, he revised the highly abstracted "Reclining female nude and head" (private property). The exuberant sexuality and virility of Picasso's late work is tamed here in a geometrically stylized representation.


Pablo Picasso died of a heart attack on April 8, 1973 in Mougins at the age of 91. He was buried in the garden of his castle Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence.

Picasso left no will, which is why a bitter legal dispute broke out among the heirs. The French state collected inheritance tax in the form of paintings, thereby establishing the Picasso Museum in Paris (opened in 1985). Picasso's many relationships and illegitimate children such as the photographer Claude Picasso and the designer Paloma Picasso from the relationship with Francoise Gilot as well as the grandchildren of his legitimate son Paulo Picasso are entitled to inherit.
In 1976 the artist's estate was estimated at 3.75 billion francs (approx. 696 million euros). This included houses, real estate, studios, various properties and Picasso's own private art collection with valuable pictures by friends or artists he admired, such as Matisse, Miró, Modigliani, Cézanne and van Gogh. The famous Spanish painter's own artistic estate is valued at CHF 1.275 billion. It comprises: 1885 paintings, 7,089 drawings, 19,134 graphics, 3,222 ceramic works, 1,228 sculptures and objects, as well as 175 sketchbooks with around 7,000 drawings that Picasso often made as sketches for large works.

The heirs did not have a happy life. Pablito, Picasso's grandson, tried to poison himself immediately after the grandfather's death. He died several months later. Picasso's son, Paulo (1921-1975), succumbed to drug and alcohol addiction in 1975. Marie-Thérèse Walter, the painter's long-time lover, hanged herself in 1977; and Picasso's second wife, Jacqueline Roque, shot himself dead in 1986.

Pablo Picasso's wives: wives and girlfriends

  • Fernande Olivier (1881–1966): Pablo Picasso and the Parisian divorced Fernande Olivier met in the autumn of 1904. They were in a relationship and lived together until 1911.
  • Eva Gouel (née Marcelle Humbert, 1885–1915): 1911–1915
  • Olga Chochlowa (1891–1955): 1. ⚭ 1918, Russian dancer and mother of Paulo Picasso; In 1937 Pablo Picasso separated from her and lived with Marie-Thérèse Walter and their daughter. Still, he never divorced Olga. → Picasso's first wife: Olga Picasso
  • Marie-Thérèse Walter (1909–1977): 1926–1936; first meeting on January 8, 1927 in front of the Galeries Lafayette, model and mother of María de la Concepción, known as Maya Picasso (born October 5, 1935)
  • Dora Maar (1907–1997): 1936–1943, photographer and painter, surrealist and communist. Dora Maar ducked the work on "Guernica".
  • Françoise Gilot (* 1921): 1943–1953, French painter and graphic artist. From 1948 Gilot lived with Picasso in Vallauris in southern France. She is the mother of Paloma and Claude Picasso.
  • Jacqueline Roque (1927–1986): March 2–2, 1961, When Jacqueline met Picasso, she was 46 years younger than the star painter and ceramics seller at Madoura in Vallauris, in whose studio Picasso had been creating ceramics since 1946.


  • Paulo Picasso (1921-1975)
  • María de la Concepción, called Maya Picasso (* October 5th, 1935)
  • Claude Picasso (* May 15, 1947)
  • Paloma Picasso (* April 19, 1949)
Published by from May 17, 2021
The world was divided into two camps, and Picasso was suitable as a figurehead and projectionist for both systems and in both German states. The Museum Ludwig analyzes the political dimension of its works and poses the question of the social role of art.
Published by from May 10, 2021
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Published by Alexandra Matznervon May 3, 2021
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Published by from March 16, 2021
The Berggruen Museum is the only public museum in Europe to show a painting from the series “Les Femmes d’Alger [The Women of Algiers]” (winter 1954/55). Around the picture “The Women of Algiers (Verision L)” (1955), paintings and works on paper will show Picasso's handling of Delacroix's composition and its successor.
Published by from March 12, 2021
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Published by from December 30, 2020
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Published by from December 17, 2020
“Picasso-Rodin” will reveal surprising similarities in the creative processes of both artists. The exhibition on Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin, organized by the Picasso Museum Paris and the Musée Rodin, offers a unique encounter between two extraordinary artists whose formal inventions mark a turning point in modern art.
Published by Alexandra Matzner on February 29, 2020
The exhibition “Picasso 1939–1945” in the K20 tells the story of the person Pablo Picasso during the Second World War and the contradictions of everyday life in these times with paintings, sculptures, drawings and contemporary documents from the years 1939 to 1945.
Published by from January 26, 2020
Pablo Picasso's lifelong preoccupation with paper is the subject of the groundbreaking exhibition “Picasso and Paper”. With almost 300 works from the artist's entire career, “Picasso and Paper” offers new insights into the creative spirit and working method of Picasso (spring 2020).
Published by from July 22, 2019
Pablo Picasso's long-standing occupation with paper is the subject of the groundbreaking exhibition Picasso and Paper. With almost 300 works from the artist's entire career, “Picasso on Paper” offers new insights into the creative spirit and working method of Picasso.
Published by from July 16, 2019
A cooperation renewed in 2018 guarantees the presence of 70 paintings, sculptures, installations and drawings in the Kunsthaus extension, which was completed at the end of 2020, for 20 years. In autumn 2019, sculptures and works on paper will show the complex relationship between surface and space in modern art.
Published by from July 11, 2019
As a painter, draftsman and sculptor, Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920) is one of the most important artists of the early 20th century. On the 100th anniversary of the anniversary of his death, the Albertina is dedicating an exhibition to the comrade-in-arms of classical modernism in autumn 2020.
Published by Alexandra Matzner on April 3, 2019
Pablo Picasso apparently made effortless use of all genres, techniques and materials, often breaking new ground - including in printmaking.