Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) needs little introduction: he was one of the most famous and prolific artists of the 20th century, and the founding father of the Cubist movement that set out how we see abstraction in art to this day. His works now stand as the star attractions at major museums and galleries across the world.
Picasso showed a passion and a skill for drawing from an early age. According to his mother, his first words were "piz, piz", a shortening of lápiz, the Spanish word for "pencil". From the age of seven, Picasso received formal artistic training from his father in figure drawing and oil painting. Ruiz was a traditional academic artist and instructor, who believed that proper training required disciplined copying of the masters, and drawing the human body from plaster casts and live models. His son became preoccupied with art to the detriment of his classwork.
From the beginning of the 1900s, Picasso began to make his mark on the European art scene. His Blue and Rose Periods, covering the first decade of the century, put the young Spaniard on the map after his move to Paris. During this period, he became a favourite of the collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein, who introduced his work to the global scene, as well as introducing him to fellow artists such as Henri Matisse.
By 1909, he and Georges Braque had begun to develop Cubism, a more pure form of abstraction than had been seen before, taking an analytical view of objects, figures and space. Despite this, he had move back to less abstract work a decade later, favouring a more weighty neo-Classical style, with elements of Surrealism.
His later work found a neat balance between these styles, and it was in the period from 1930 that he produced some of his most recognisable paintings, by now with his own trademark style that was not in conflict with his contemporaries. An incredibly prolific artist, Picasso produced a huge amount of work, even in his final years, before his death in 1973.