Art is a lie that makes us realise the truth – Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain in 1881. He spent most of his working life in Paris and the South of France. Regarded as the forefather of the Cubist movement, Picasso’s revolutionary artistic achievements position him as one of the most important artists in the history of Western art. Prolific and influential, he moved through different periods throughout his artistic oeuvre; his paintings, etchings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics are deemed to personify modern art.
His is best known paintings are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937), his portrayal of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso demonstrated uncanny artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence; during the first decade of the twentieth century his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas.
Aside from the several anti-war paintings that he created, Picasso remained personally neutral during World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II, refusing to join the armed forces for any side or country. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1937, Picasso was already in his late fifties. He was even older at the onset of World War II, and could not be expected to take up arms in those conflicts. As a Spanish citizen living in France, Picasso was under no compulsion to fight against the invading Germans in either World War. In the Spanish Civil War, service for Spaniards living abroad was optional and would have involved a voluntary return to the country to join either side. While Picasso expressed anger and condemnation of Francisco Franco and fascists through his art, he did not take up arms against them. He also remained aloof from the Catalan independence movement during his youth despite expressing general support and being friendly with activists within it.
In 1944 Picasso joined the French Communist Party, attended an international peace conference in Poland, and in 1950 received the Stalin Peace Prize from the Soviet government, But party criticism of a portrait of Stalin as insufficiently realistic cooled Picasso’s interest in Soviet politics, though he remained a loyal member of the Communist Party until his death. Picasso stated: “I am a Communist and my painting is Communist painting. … But if I were a shoemaker, Royalist or Communist or anything else, I would not necessarily hammer my shoes in a special way to show my politics.”
Photo:© – David Douglas-Duncan