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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Restless genius: Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso, 1935
Picasso is credited with founding the Cubist movement

Pablo Picasso's Garcon a la Pipe has become the world's most expensive painting, selling at auction in New York for $104m (58m). BBC News Online looks back at the artist's life.

Born in Malaga, Spain on 25 October, 1881, Pablo Picasso was to dominate Western art in the 20th Century.

The son of an academic painter, Picasso began to draw at an early age.

In 1895, his family moved to Barcelona where Picasso studied at the city's academy of fine arts.

His assocation with fellow artists and intellectuals at the city's landmark cafe Els Quatre Gats saw Picasso's early artistic style flourish. His first exhibition was held in Barcelona in 1900, and the city remained his home until 1904.

Cubist movement

In April 1904, Picasso moved to Paris where his circle of friends included Gertrude and Leo Stein. Early collectors of Picasso's work, the Steins also counted the artists Matisse and Cezanne among their proteges.

From his initial experiments with Impressionism, Picasso's style evolved, giving rise to the Blue Period (1901-1904) and the Rose Period (1905).

However, it was his pivotal work Les Demoiselles d'Avignon in 1907, that was to ensure Picasso's place in art history, as founder of the Cubist movement.

Garcon a la Pipe by Pablo Picasso
Garcon a la Pipe is an example of Picasso's Rose Period

Through Cubism, Picasso sought to recreate compositional form in terms of planes and angles, fragmenting his subject matter to create "an assemblage of geometric forms".

In Cubism, Picasso and co-founder Georges Braque created an austere, often depersonalised pictorial style. Strikingly modern and dauntingly ambiguous, it was to become the most influential art movement of the modern age.

Civil war

From 1912, Picasso began to experiment with new techniques including papier colle - pasting overlapping paper detritus to canvas - to create the style better known today as collage.

Turning his back on Cubism in his late 30s, Picasso's work began to take on more colour and saw a return to the use of classical forms. It was a style he would revert to for decades to come while toying with more controversial ideas.

During the 1920s, the artist also contributed to the Surrealist movement, spearheaded by Salvador Dali and Andre Breton, before turning his attention to sculpture.

Picasso was hugely affected by the outbreak of civil war in Spain, and in 1936 began one of his most significant works Guernica - depicting the horror and turmoil of war.

Pablo Picasso
Picasso stood by his Communist ideals until his death in 1973

The potent image, focusing on the bombing of a Spanish villa by Franco's German allies, was displayed at the World Fair in Paris - and at a series of international exhibitions.

Global attention

Protected by his increasing fame, Picasso remained in France throughout World War II, despite the German occupation and the Nazis' low opinion of his "degenerate art".

In 1944, the artist joined the French Communist Party and became a loud supporter of Joseph Stalin, a position which saw him rejected for French citizenship, it was recently revealed.

Never one to shun the public eye, Picasso continued to work prolifically in painting, drawing and ceramics, as well as flirting with creative writing.

A notorious womaniser, who once said women were either "goddesses or doormats", the artist died in 1973 in France at the age of 92, leaving four children (by three different mistresses) and his second wife, Jacqueline Roque.

His forceful personality, coupled with his frequent changes of artistic style, ensured that few artists have ever been as famous in their lifetime as Picasso.


SEE ALSO:
Picasso painting sells for $104m
06 May 04  |  Entertainment
Who buys paintings for $104m?
06 May 04  |  Magazine
Rare Picasso canvas back on show
11 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Picasso's Malaga museum realised
27 Oct 03  |  Entertainment


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