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Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was born into a family of artists. His father was a painter, taught drawing and was a restorer at the museum in Malaga. The young Picasso’s talent was evident already at an early age, and at the age of 14 he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona and two years later to the Academy in Madrid, which he soon quit, though, to join the artistic avant-garde in the city.
In1901 he visited Paris for the first time, and in 1904 he moved there permanently. In 1907 he finalised the epoch-making painting ”Les Demoiselles D’Avignon”, which created much sensation. In that painting Picasso used the mask motif for the first time and broke with all previous painting traditions. The same year he met Georges Braque, and in the following years the two of them developed in close cooperation cubism that became the foundation for great parts of modern art. From 1916 he returned to a more traditional, classic idiom, but from the mid-1920s he was influenced by surrealism.
”Suite Vollard” is a series of 100 graphic works – primarily etchings and dry point – created in the period 1930-37. The series was produced at the request of Ambroise Vollard, a Parisian art dealer and publisher, who had arranged one of Picasso’s first exhibitions in Paris, and who in the preceding years had purchased and published prints by Picasso.
The 100 prints are grouped into five groups: The sculptor’s studio, Rembrandt, Minotaur, the blind Minotaur and the Love Fight. The series furthermore contains three portraits of Vollard and 27 separate prints, which cannot be grouped. Many of the prints were produced in short, hectic work periods and are almost in the nature of diary notes.
In ”Suite Vollard” the Minotaur figure from the Greek mythical world is introduced to Picasso’s art. Minotaur was half bull, half human and demanded every year a tribute of seven young men and women from Athens. They were shut in the Labyrinth in Knossos in Crete, where Minotaur lived. The hero Theseus managed to kill it and escape from the labyrinth by means of the ball of string that Ariadne had given to him. Picasso regarded Minotaur as an image of himself – at the same time sensitive, virile and brutish, just to finally collapse deadly wounded in the bullring.
Moreover, the suite holds an atmosphere of a bygone age – a lost golden age with youth, heroes, beautiful women, mythological creatures, endless beaches and a blue Mediterranean. From time to time the idyll is interrupted, however, by rape and horror.
”Suite Vollard” is a zenith in the artwork of Picasso, followed in 1937 by yet another major work, the painting ”Guernica”. This painting depicts the horror of war and the Nazis’ bombardment of the civilian population of the town of Guernica during the Spanish civil war. Besides, in several of the prints of the ”Suite Vollard” there are one or more elements that are repeated in ”Guernica”.
Picasso is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. He was extremely productive, mastered painting, etching, sculpture and ceramics, and was at the same time innovative. And he was an accurate portrayer of the world around him and human life in all its facets.
Pablo Picasso, 1962. Photographer unknown