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Pablo Picasso is arguably the most important artistic figure of the twentieth century. Before the age of fifty, the Spanish born artist had become the most well-known name in the development of Modern Art, with the most distinct style and eye for artistic creation. His career spanned nearly eighty years, and numerous celebrated love affairs — and although he saw himself primarily as a painter, he had worked in almost every medium, from ceramics to theatrical design. Picasso is seen as one of the greatest, most radical and most influential artists of the twentieth century, his legacy is far-reaching and enduring. He had astonishing powers of invention, continually innovating and refreshing his work and experimenting with one style after another. He is known for being one of the most innovative and productive artists of all time, having created over fifty-thousand pieces of art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and ceramics. Born in Malaga, Spain, on the 25th October 1881, he began to draw from an early age under the guidance of his father, José Ruiz Blasco, who was an academic painter. After studying at the La Lonja art school in Barcelona, Picasso eventually moved to Paris and settled in the early 1900s. The progression of Picasso’s early work is largely categorized by the predominant colour scheme employed in his works at any given time. His earliest artistic phase was the Blue Period (1901–04), featuring motifs from everyday Parisian life, and marked with implicit motifs of poverty, isolation and the human condition through a somber and monochromatic palette. This was followed by the Rose Period, which introduced more lyrical subjects such as jugglers, acrobats and other performers. These two early periods defined Picasso’s his early years in Paris. Picasso’s subsequent experimentation with a new style that would come to be known as Cubism, which broke down objects into basic geometric shapes and fragmented them across the picture plane, is marked by the revolutionary artwork Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which was painted in 1907. The cubist style would inflect his work to varying degrees for the rest of his long career, which moved easily between mediums, including ceramics, sculpture, print making, and collage, all with the same virtuosic ability he possessed with painting. Picasso's work during the 1920s and 1930s is often referred to as his "Surrealist" period, where he produced works that were fantastical and dream-like, often depicting abstract shapes and forms. Although Picasso had lived in France for a number of years, the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War had a distinct impact on him. The bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by Franco’s government horrified the artist, and moved him to paint the powerful large-scale Guernica, 1937, a poignant anti-war statement first shown at the Spanish pavilion at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Picasso drew on various influences and the work of his later years in particular is steeped in themes of art history. His career is punctuated by seminal, highly influential artworks whose impact on both artists that followed and wider culture is undeniable. Unusual among artists, Picasso remained in France during the German occupation. From 1946 to his death, he lived mainly in the south of France. Picasso continued to produce paintings, sculptures, etchings and ceramics throughout his prolific career, producing an enormous body of work. His paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and ceramics all continue to stand as testament to his versatile and prolific talent — Picasso was businessman, genius and maverick in equal measure. There are several museums dedicated to Picasso’s work in France and Spain, the most important being in Paris and Barcelona. His work is also included in the most important museums and private collections throughout the world.
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