1932 was one wild and productive year for Pablo Picasso. He made over 100 paintings, hid a secret love affair from his ballerina wife, and developed a new style inspired by a romance with a woman 28 years younger. Tate’s latest exhibition Picasso 1932 - Love, Fame, Tragedy pays tribute to Picasso’s wildest year. But who was the man behind the paintings? We uncover the facts you might not know about Picasso’s life.
Picasso once said, "Love is the greatest refreshment in life." He had a string of romances with young beautiful women throughout his life, many of whom became his muse.
War and Peace (Silkscreen print) by Picasso
Born in Spain, Picasso spent most of his life as an expat in France. Donning the French navy uniform, the breton stripe top became Picasso’s signature style. This witty photograph of Picasso with bread for fingers, was taken by famous photographer Robert Doisneau. It’s a play on French words: “mains” meaning hands and “pains” meaning bread.
Les Pains de Picasso by Robert Doisneau, 1952
Picasso is one of the most productive artists that ever lived, creating an estimated 50,000 paintings, drawings, sculpture and ceramics during his lifetime. Born in Málaga, on the South coast of Spain, his first word was supposedly pencil, “piz” in Spanish.
L'Acrobat, 1930 by Picasso photo by Bluesuntree
When Picasso heard of the suffering of the small town of Guernica which was bombed during the Spanish Civil War in 1937, he painted his masterpiece Guernica. The canvas was rolled up and toured around the world, getting its own ‘battle wounds’ along the way. It came to symbolise war and destruction across the world.
Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso
At the age of 62, Picasso joined the French communist party right after Paris had been liberated from the Nazis in 1944. His paintings of doves became known as the ‘dove of peace’ and an important motif to support the cause.
From the 1920s, print shop and gallery owner Mourlot collaborated with the greatest Modernists of his day. He revived the complex process of colour lithographs, using a stone plate to offset an image. In 1945, Picasso worked with Galerie Mourlot for the first time after being recommended by Henri Matisse and Georges Braque. Mourlot once said Picasso came to the shop “like he was going to battle.” In 20 years, Picasso produced 400 lithographs for Mourlot.
Pablo Picasso, Max Pelleqeur and Georges Braque at Atelier Mourlot
Most people don’t realise that Picasso wrote too. He wrote a French poem to Guillaume Apollinaire in 1906. He didn’t take it seriously until 1935 when he wrote poems almost daily until 1959.
Picasso's annotated poem manuscript via Open Culture
Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”) of 1955 sold by Christie’s for the huge sum of $179.4m (€152.3m).
Picasso and Georges Braque led the Cubism movement in 1907, a revolutionary new approach to painting. Picasso also played an important role in a multitude of art movements including Neoclassicism, Surrealism and Expressionism. His depiction of previously taboo subjects, helped us see the world in an entirely new light. Picasso is widely believed to be the most inspiring artist to ever exist.
Violin and Guitar, 1943 by Picasso