One of the most prolific and revolutionary artists the world has ever seen, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) had a tremendous impact on the development of 20th-century modern art.
“Every act of creation is, first of all, an act of destruction,” the Spanish artist proclaimed. In his Cubist paintings, he emphasizes the two-dimensionality of the canvas, breaking with conventions regarding perspective, foreshortening and proportion. Picasso was inspired by Iberian and African tribal art. One of his most famous pre-Cubist works is Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), a painting considered immoral and shocking at the time for its depiction of nude women whose faces resemble Iberian tribal masks.
He made many portraits in this style, most often of the women in his life, their expressively colored faces composed of geometric shards of surface planes. In Woman in a Hat (Olga), 1935, he painted his first wife as an assemblage of abstract forms, leaving the viewer to decipher the subject through the contrasting colors and shapes. Picasso was a tireless artist, creating more than 20,000 paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics and sculptures. Tracing his life’s work reveals the progression of modern art, on which he had an unparalleled influence.