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June 22, 2011

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain. The son of an art teacher, Picasso showed a remarkable talent for drawing at an early age. He was fourteen when the family moved to Barcelona where his father was a professor at the School of Art. Two years later Picasso had his first exhibition of rather somber, quite classical paintings. Between 1900 and 1904 he made three trips to Paris where he studied the works of the Impressionists. In 1904 he settled in France. From 1901 onwards, Picasso's work can be divided into different periods, each showing distinct influences and personal interests. From 1901 to 1904, in what is called his Blue Period, his paintings were melancholy in mood and subject matter, flat of form and strong contour, nearly monochromatic, and of intense blue. Picasso’s Rose Period (1905-06) offers the same flat forms but with a softer contour, a more romantic mood, and a delicate ink tonality that is often used with the blue of the earlier works. In 1906 Picasso met Henri Matisse, with whom he shared an interest in the works of Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin. At the time he also was influenced by African primitive carvings, featuring distorted, strong, barbaric forms that seem flat but are actually shaded as to be three-dimensional. Called Cubism by the critics, it led to the Cubism practiced by Picasso and others from 1909 to 1911 in which familiar objects such as glasses and pitchers were broken down and transformed into geometric planes. From 1915 until 1936, Picasso painted in various Cubist manners, experimented with Surrealism, and entered his classical (sometimes called white) period in the early 1920's. The anti-war masterpiece Guernica (1937) is painted in this style. A Nazi official once looked at Guernica and asked Picasso if he had done it. Picasso responded, “No, you did it.” Later, Picasso returned to themes of women, children, animals, and birds, painting in various manners often combining all of his previous styles. He also produced lithographs and etchings on classical and literary subjects, sculpture, murals, jewelry, and ceramic works. Picasso's palette was varied, but he often limited himself to tones of gray and black, as in Guernica, or to a favorite combination of black, white, and shades of ochre. Picasso's influence upon modern art has been immeasurable.

We all go through different moods and periods like Picasso. It is my view that we live many lives during this lifetime. The connection between these lives is sometimes strong and other times a mere thread. We may look back and say “What was I thinking?” or “Was that really me?”. It is normal to have these moments. Our moods rise and fall like the tide. Adhering to the principles of the Tao can help us navigate these moods smoothly.