Paris has captured artists’ imaginations for centuries and the celebratory Picasso Museum continues to inspire creatives to this day. Before you peruse their stunning collection, here’s some facts about Picasso to enrich your cultural experience.
At his baptism, Picasso was christened Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso. His incredibly long name is a mixture of his relative’s names as well as saints and Ruiz comes from his father’s name, whereas Picasso stems from his mother’s.
After complications in labour, Picasso (who was extremely small for a child) was believed to be stillborn and left on a side table while medical staff tended to his mother. It was only when his uncle, who was a doctor, blew cigar smoke and he began crying that they realised the mistake and his uncle saved his life.
With a father who also worked as a painter, it was expected that art would be in Picasso’s blood and his first word merely proved that fact. His father, who specialised in naturalistic paintings of birds, began teaching him to create artistic works from the age of 7 decided that he would give up painting when Picasso turned 14 – claiming that his son had become a better painter than him.
The international art world had one of its biggest scandals in 1911 – the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. When the police began asking the public for tips, one of the former thieves singled out French literary figure Guillaume Apollinaire whom he had apparently sold stolen work to. Apollinaire then claimed that his good friend Picasso was responsible for stealing the Mona Lisa and Picasso was detained as a suspect. Da Vinci’s masterpiece was later found a couple of years later stolen by a former Louvre security guard during a deal gone awry.
According to the Art Loss Register, over a thousand works of Picasso’s have been listed as lost, stolen or disputed. They even continue to be stolen to this day, with robberies happening between 2010-2012.
It’s no secret that Picasso has had a string of romantic entanglements with a number of women throughout his life, with four children fathered by three different women. While he was legally married to Olga Khokhlova for a while, they separated after a few years and as divorce was a costly process they remained married until she passed away in 1955. A number of his works were inspired by his lovers, including Dora Maar and Marie Thérese Walter.
With collections and museums dedicated to the artist across the world, Picasso’s body of work spans 91 years and over 150,000 different works. Divided into different artistic phases of his life including Cubism and the Blue Period, he was incredibly experimental and was constantly evolving as an artist.
While Picasso is best known for his paintings, towards the latter years of his life he also began to write poetry (he wrote over 300 poems) and a couple of surrealist plays. While they weren’t nearly as successful as his other artistic works, one of his plays had a public reading with Albert Camus, Simone de-Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.
After Picasso’s father felt he had nothing left to teach his son, Picasso moved onto a fine art school when he turned 13. Although he was an incredibly talented artist, his academics suffered as he spent most of his time painting.
At the age of 91 years old, Picasso said at a dinner party in Mougins, “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore.” He died of a heart attack. Inspired by the artist, Paul McCartney wrote a song literally named Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me) where artist’s final utterance is the foundation of its chorus.
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