Pablo Picasso died the year I was born. By the end of his life, he had forged a life’s work of paintings, collages, sculptures and drawings. Most know Picasso for his primitive, modern paintings. And, like you, I had a difficult time fully appreciating his over-simplistic, abstract style. “Anyone can paint like this” went through my head a lot. In fact, many people seem to believe that Picasso’s abstraction of the human figure is the result of his inability to draw.
It wasn’t until I discovered that Picasso was an amazing realist draftsman that I felt a greater appreciation for the artist. In fact, his father, a drawing teacher, enrolled Pablo into Barcelona Academy of Art “La Concha” at age 13. It was that same year that Picasso’s father felt his son surpassed him as an artist.
Picasso experimented with styles all throughout his life. In fact, he pioneered some of them. He invented collage and, along with Georges Braque, invented Cubism, for which we see as one of his most notable styles. Other styles and movements Picasso influenced: Impressionism, Surrealism, Realism and Expressionism.
Underneath the abstracted forms and geometric shapes of Picasso’s paintings is an understanding and knowledge of the human form that surpasses many artists of his time.
To view a Picasso painting without knowing the breadth and depth of his life, talent and skills is not truly looking at his painting. Because of his strong drawing foundation and the passion to experiment, he was able to successfully take his style in many directions over his life.
Styles come and styles go. But to own a solid foundational skill in drawing means an artist is not painted into a corner. They own the skill, the visual language, and the set of tools, to create their own unique artistic signature.