Pablo Picasso was one of the leading artists in the twentieth-century. Together with Georges Braque, he developed a new style of painting called Cubism. Picasso paintings are today some of the most admired and loved.

Picasso's painting career can broadly be divided into five stages:

  • The Blue Period
  • The Rose Period
  • The African Influenced Period
  • Analytic Cubism Period
  • Synthetic Cubism Period
The Blue Period (1901-1904):

The Picasso paintings of this period are somber and emotional. They were influenced by the recent death of a close friend and by a trip through Spain. The works depict acrobats, harlequins, beggars, prostitutes and artists. They are characterized by a distinct blue tint.

The most famous Picasso painting of this period is The Old Guitarist (1903).

This well known Picasso painting depicts a blind man in rags huddled with a guitar. There is a ghostly portrait of a woman underneath the painting. This leads us to believe that Picasso possibly originally painted a seated woman.

Other paintings of this period are Dama en Eden Concert (1903), La Vida (1903), Las dos hermanas (1904).

The Rose Period (1905-1907):

The Picasso paintings of this period are noticeably more cheerful than those of The Blue Period. He employs happier colors like orange and pink. This change in style can perhaps be attributed to Picasso's happy personal life at the moment: he was in a fulfilling relationship with Fernande Olivier. The paintings of this period are also believed to be French inspired. Picasso's highest selling painting belongs to this period. This is the Garcon á la pipe (Boy with a Pipe) . This famous Picasso painting depicts a Parisian boy holding a pipe in his left hand. It sold for 104.1 million at an auction in Sotheby's in New York. In 1905, he also portrayed a group of circus workers in Family of Saltimbanques .

Other popular Picasso paintings of this period are Woman in a Chemise (Madeleine) (1904-2905), Harlequin Family (1905), The Girl with a Goat (1906).

African Influenced (1907-1909):

Pablo Picasso's paintings of this period have been influenced by African sculpture. The French empire was expanding in Africa during this time, and Paris museums were full of African artifacts. Picasso's most important work of this period is Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907). This is Picasso's first Cubist work.

Cubism is a style of painting in which the painter represents three dimensional natural forms in a flat area of patterns and colors. The forms depicted overlap and intertwine.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon depicts five prostitutes in a brothel on the Avignon Street in Barcelona. Picasso prepared for this work by making a 100 sketches and studies. Each figure is drawn differently. While some are wearing African derived masks, others are influenced by Iberian sculptures.

Another Picasso painting of this period is Trois Femmes (1907-1908).

Analytic Cubism(1909-1912):

The Cubist paintings of this style have a monochromatic color scheme. They are the product of the painter's analysis of natural forms and subsequent representation in the Cubist style. A famous Picasso painting of this period is Le Guitariste .

Synthetic Cubism (1912-1919):

Picasso's famous painting of this period is Still-Life with Chair Caning (1911-1912). This Picasso painting is an oval picture. It was meant to be a café table in perspective, surrounded by a rope frame.

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