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  • Writer's pictureTerry Bonneville

Who is Picasso? A Quick Guide to Artist Pablo Picasso and His Work

Updated: Mar 6

A photograph of Pablo Picasso in later life
Pablo Picasso

Nationality: Spanish

Born: 25th October 1881

Died: 8th April 1973, aged 91

Picasso's prolific artistic career was long, varied and illustrious. He is perhaps most well-known as one of the founders of the Cubist art movement, which was generally considered at its most active between 1908 and 1914 although Cubist works were still being created well into the 1920s.

Picasso was a prodigiously talented child and many of his early works show a mature and masterful control of oil paints, as well as an incredible observation skills, compositions and managment of colour. The piece shown here, entitled The Altarboy, was created when he was just fifteen years old.

The Altarboy by Pablo Picasso, 1896
The Altarboy, Pablo Picasso, 1896

The work of Picasso is generally categorised into a number of periods:

The Blue Period (1901–1904)

The Rose Period (1904–1906)

The African-influenced Period (1907–1909)

Analytic Cubism (1909–1912)

Synthetic Cubism / Crystal Period (1912–1919)


Old Guitarist, 1903, by Pablo Picasso, from Picasso's Blue Period
Old Guitarist, 1903, by Pablo Picasso

The Blue Period (1901–1904)

Second to Cubism, this is perhaps Picasso's most well known body of work. Much work of this period is relatively monochromatic as Picasso heavily used pallets of blue and, to a lesser extent, some greens. The subject matter of prostitutes, homeless people and other unfortunate characters added to the melancholy feel of this period and it is often said that this period is linked to the suicide of a friend of Picasso's, Carles Casagemas, himself and artist and poet who travelled and lived with Picasso.


Au Lapin Agile, Pablo Picasso, 1905
Au Lapin Agile, Pablo Picasso, 1905

The Rose Period (1904–1906)

As Picasso found love while in France, the blue period gave way to a more optimistic-feeling body of work in the rose period. It was at this time, as Picasso painted many circus folk, that the Harlequin became a significant icon in his work and one which would become a recurring theme throughout his subsequent periods of creativity.

An excellent example of an early harlequin painting from the rose period is Au Lapin Agile, from 1905.

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