Pablo Picasso: 1881-1973: Artist
Late Art Inspired By War And Love
Picasso's greatest Surrealist painting had nothing to do with subconscious drives, however. Guernica (1937) was a response to Germany's bombing, abetted by Spain's right-wing government, of the Basque town of Guernica; over 1,600 innocent civilians died in the bombing, and an enraged Picasso immediately began to draw on his entire artistic vocabulary to create a painting that would reflect the horror of the event. Finished after several months, Guernica was a giant, jumbled nightmare image featuring fragments of a woman, a horse, and a bull representing brute force in human affairs. The painting, displayed at the Paris World's Fair of 1937, was, in the words of Picasso biographer Patrick O'Brian, "a passionate and universal outcry against all war, all oppression."
Picasso remained in occupied Paris during World War II. Always he had female companions who showed up in his paintings; in the 1920s he had had a daughter, Maria, by Marie-Thérèse Walter after his marriage to Khoklova broke up, and in the late 1940s, he had two more children by Françoise Gilot, Claude and Paloma. Picasso worked almost nonstop for the rest of his life, producing a staggering amount of work in a variety of styles and media—especially during a phase of his career where he favored paper cut-outs. "He had a much fresher and more childlike attitude than any of us," Claude Picasso recalled in a Newsweek International interview. One of Picasso's best-known works from the later stages of his career was a simple drawing of a white pigeon carrying a small branch. Executed in 1949, it was used for a poster associated with the Paris Peace Congress of that year. It was a rare print shop or college bookstore in the following decades that did not stock a reproduction of the drawing.
In the decades after World War II, Picasso was a celebrity both within and beyond the art world, venerated by younger artists who were creating revolutionary styles such as Abstract Expressionism and who saw Picasso as the very soul of daring innovation. Picasso moved to the south of France in 1948, settling near Aix in 1958 and in the small town of Mougins in 1961. At the age of 80 in 1961, he married Jacqueline Roque, and on his 80th birthday, he stayed up until two in the morning at a variety show, got up early the next morning to attend a ceremony held in his honor, and attended a bullfight the next afternoon. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, eight Picasso paintings were hung in the central Great Gallery of the Louvre Museum in Paris; some of the greatest names in the history of art were moved aside to make room. Picasso died in Antibes, France, on April 8, 1973, after producing hundreds of works in the last few years of his life. Among his last words, spoken to his bachelor doctor, were these, quoted by Patrick O'Brian: "You are wrong not to marry. It's useful."
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Huffington, Arianna Stassinopolous, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer, Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Mailer, Norman, Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995.
O'Brian, Patrick, Picasso: A Biography, Putnam's, 1976.
Atlantic, June 1988, p. 37.
Newsweek International, July 19, 1999, p. 58.
Time International, April 9, 2001, p. 50.
—James M. Manheim
Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - PersonalPablo Picasso: 1881-1973: Artist Biography - Often Created New Paintings Daily, Evolved From Blue Period To Cubism, Late Art Inspired By War And Love