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Pablo Picasso Biography for Kids

Image of a Cubist/surrealist painting in blacks, greys, browns and whites with strong geometric shapes of human body parts and heads and animal body parts and heads with a gold rectangle across the top of the picture. In the gold rectangle are the words "Pablo Picasso Biography for Kids." Below are three more paintings of Picasso: a woman's face from multiple angles at once, the distorted white body of an acrobat, and the cubist image of three musicians.

Hola, my name is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso, but you can call me Picasso.

Black and white photograph of a bald older man in a white and black striped shirt
Pablo Picasso

I am the most important artist of the 20th century. I was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881.

Map of Europe with Spain highlighted in dark green and with a red arrow pointing to a red dot in Spain with the words Malaga, Spain and the date 1881

When I was a child, my mother said to me, “If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the pope.” Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.

Painting of profile of woman with black hair pulled up in a bun and wearing a pink dress with a fluffy white collar looking down
Portrait of the Artist’s Mother by Pablo Picasso 1897 (Public Domain)

My father, who was also a painter and art teacher, taught me to draw and paint, and I soon became a better artist than he!

Painting of teenage boy with black hair and a dark brown suit with a brown background
Self Portrait by Pablo Picasso 1897 (Public Domain)

I never liked school much, because I resented being told what to do by my teachers and so I was often disobedient. I didn’t mind that they sent me to the ‘calaboose,’ a bare cell with whitewashed walls and a bench to sit on. I liked it there, because I took along a sketch pad and drew incessantly … I could have stayed there forever, drawing without stopping.

Sketch in pencil of a few groups of people from another era with the women wearing tall pointed hats and the man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and cape overlooking an arena with a horse dragging a bull out of the arena
“Tricorne” Study by Pablo Picasso 1919 (Public Domain)

I can paint very realistically as I did in my teens,…

Painting of a girl in a long white dress and veil kneeling at an altar with a man behind her dressed in a black priest suit and a boy in a red robe covered by a white robe standing by the altar
First Communion by Pablo Picasso 1896 (Public Domain)

…and I showed my first paintings at a junk shop when I was 13 years old and even sold a few.

Painting of a sick man in a bed with a green cover and a doctor, an older man in a suit looking at something in his hand, sitting on one side of the bed while a nun dressed in a black dress with a large white collar and white headpiece and holding a little girl stands on the other side of the bed
Of Science and Charity by Pablo Picasso 1897 (Public Domain)

But I like to experiment with materials and styles, and I am very creative and never complacent. I paint or draw every day! You might say I am obsessed with my art.

When I was 20, my close friend, Casagemas, took his own life, I became very sad.

Painting of a young man with brown hair with his eyes closed, lying in a coffin and covered by a white blanket
The Death of Casagemas by Pablo Picasso 1901 (Public Domain)

I began to paint in shades of blue, and the people in my paintings of this time often look sad and have an elongated style like that of El Greco, the famous Greek painter, like in my painting The Tragedy…

Painting of a woman standing with her back to the viewer and facing a man and boy and all are looking down. The whole painting is in shades of blue.
The Tragedy by Pablo Picasso 1903 (Public Domain)

…or The Old Blind Guitarist. This is called my Blue Period now.

Painting of an old man with white hair whose head is hanging down as he sits on the ground with his legs crossed and plays a guitar
The Old Blind Guitarist by Pablo Picasso 1903 (Public Domain)

By 1904, when I was 23, I had moved to Paris away from my native Spain, and I fell in love.

Map of Europe with France highlighted in dark green and with a red arrow pointing to a red dot in France with the words Paris, France

My art again reflected my mood – now I was happy, so my paintings had rose and pink colors, so people called this my Rose Period. It was also my Circus Period, for I enjoyed painting circus people and harlequins.

Painting of a tall young man in a red body suit and red cap, an acrobat, and a boy in a harlequin suit of blue and brown diamonds
Acrobat and Young Harlequin by Pablo Picasso 1905 (Public Domain)

In my painting Family of Saltimbanques, you can even see that I included myself as a harlequin in the painting.

Painting of a group of circus performers with a group of five standing on the left side of the picture and one seated on the right side of the picture. The standing group includes a harlequin in a costume with blue and brown diamonds on it holding the hand of a little girl in a pink skirt. They are talking to a fat clown in a red suit, a boy in only brown shorts and a short boy in a blue suit.
Family of Saltimbanques by Pablo Picasso 1905 (Public Domain)

1n 1907, my friend, Georges Braque, and I began experimenting with perspective and challenging the constraints of perspective that had been accepted since the Renaissance. We wanted to try to include many different angles and views of an object in one painting. So we made blocks of different views and started a new style of art called Cubism. My painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) was my first big work in the style of Cubism, and while many found shocking and rejected the angular and jarring view which lacks depth, this pushed my work and art into a new abstract era for which I am known.

A cubist painting of five nude women posed in a confrontational manner and the two on the right are wearing African masks. The images are geometric and distorted rather than realistic.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) by Pablo Picasso 1907 (Public Domain)

I also invented Collage, including bits of newspaper or rope or other real objects in the paintings.

Collage cubist painting of a guitar, a piece of sheet music, a clip from a newspaper, and a wine glass with a brown pattern in the background.
Guitar, Sheet Music and Wine Glass by Pablo Picasso 1912 (Public Domain)

I enjoyed sculpture as well, again making it my own unique style by taking ordinary objects and creating something from them. I once took a bicycle seat and handlebars to create a bull!

Picture of a sculpture of a bike handlebar attached to a bike seat so it looks like a bull
Bull’s Head by Pablo Picasso 1942 (Fair Use)

During World War I, I again changed my style of painting to return to realistic paintings. This was my Classical Period.

Painting of a pitcher on a table with a plate with two apples on top and two apples next to the pitcher on the table
Still Life with Pitcher and Apples by Pablo Picasso 1919 (Public Domain)

Never content with one style, though, I soon began to experiment with depicting paintings based on Freud’s studies on the power of the subconscious mind. This art movement was called Surrealism.

Painting of a white human body on a purplish background contorted with a leg over the head and arms touching the ground
Acrobat by Pablo Picasso 1930 (Fair Use)

One of my famous paintings is from this time of Surrealism and is called Guernica after a Spanish city that the Nazis bombed in 1936 during the Spanish civil war. I depict the horrors of war in a disjointed fashion using only white, black and grey. The Nazis were angry at me for creating the painting Guernica and came to my door. “Did you do this?” one asked me. “No,” I replied, “You did.” They created the violence; I only painted it.

Cubist/surrealist painting in blacks, greys, browns and whites with strong geometric shapes of human body parts and heads and animal body parts and heads
Guernica by Pablo Picasso 1937 (Fair Use)

While my art is shocking and disturbing to many and I am often asked what it means, I don’t want people to try to understand art. Why spoil the magic of it? I do not think when I paint but let my mind and feelings run free. I live my own way, and my art keeps me alive!

Here’s what you should remember about me: 
I am Pablo Picasso.
I lived from 1881 to 1973.
I am a known for my creative experimentation with many styles in especially abstract art.
I am known also for Cubism, Collage and Surrealism.

Watch the video about me too!

Investigate the life and art works of Pablo Picasso in this artist unit study!

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