The Phases of Picasso


The Many Variations of The Famed Spanish Artist

Pablo Picasso is one of the most famed painters on the globe. Well known for his abstract and cubist paintings his name is synonymous with this particular style of artistry. Yet Picasso did not pioneer this movement alone, his friend and colleague Georges Braque was equally responsible for the rise of this avant-garde style. In the same way Picasso is often only associated with cubism by the layman, yet the Spanish artist was capable of many different variations and certainly did not begin putting paintbrush to canvas and arriving at a cubist form. What is clear is that Picasso (as with many other artists) is that he went through phases, not only learning new skills and image making techniques but also focusing and practicing a style over and over. These phases are referred to as periods and there are several in which he worked through over his lifetime.

Blue Period

The first notable phase Picasso went through was a sombre one. This three-year stretch saw him create images that were not just chromatically blue but also sorrowful in subject matter. The faces of characters were solemn, body language was uncomfortable, and the entire scene of these paintings seemed depressed. A great example of this is the 1903 painting ‘The Old Guitarist’ where a somewhat skeletal elderly man hunches over a guitar facedown, the brown of the guitar’s wood providing the only nonblue elements in the painting.

Rose Period

Luckily things picked up as he entered his second period in 1904, this could have been due to the fact he was romantically involved with a female artist at the time. During this time warmer colours worked their way onto the canvas as did more elaborately dressed figures. Playful circus people and nude models stood proud in this time as things brightened in his life and underneath his brush.

African Period
African Period

African Period

Thanks to African culture and artefacts spreading into Europe at the time, Picasso stumbled across some African art that gave him some profound inspiration. Obviously influenced by the seemingly primitive shapes of sculptures as well as the exaggerated forms of tribal masks, Picasso began to put his own spin on these elements. Here we see covered faces, geometrical female poses, and often bolder colours being introduced.

Cubism
Cubism

Cubism

Beginning in 1909 Picasso focused on the style which he would later be famous for, though many of the paintings in his African period are thought of as proto cubist, this particular time saw him work through many variations of the umbrella term. Beginning with analytic cubism; a name which comes from Picasso and Braque analysing the geometry of shapes and recreating them in simpler more square versions, the pair used a mainly monochrome palette as they explored this style. Later crystal cubism would form as flatter shapes overlapped and intermeshed with one another creating complex forms. As this continued the lighting and angles of the shapes would be enhanced with rendering to create almost surreal planes. This made sense as his final phase would be a surreal one that lasted a decade before the great depression hit.