Pablo Picasso was one of the most influential and prolific artists of the 20th century, who created thousands of paintings, sculptures, prints, ceramics, and other works of art. He is widely regarded as the co-founder of Cubism, a revolutionary style that broke down the conventional representation of reality into geometric shapes and multiple perspectives. He also experimented with other movements and techniques, such as Surrealism, Expressionism, Neoclassicism, and Collage.
Top 10 Picasso Famous Paintings
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, which occurred on April 8, 1973, in Mougins, France. To commemorate his life and legacy, many museums and institutions around the world are organizing exhibitions and events that showcase his diverse and innovative oeuvre. In this article, we will introduce you to some of the most famous Picasso paintings that you can see in 2023, as well as some of the exhibitions that feature them.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907)
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) is considered to be the first Cubist painting and one of the most important artworks of the 20th century. It depicts five nude women in a brothel in Barcelona, Spain, with distorted faces and bodies that resemble African masks and Iberian sculptures. The painting shocked and scandalized the art world when it was first exhibited in 1916, as it challenged the traditional notions of beauty, perspective, and composition. Picasso painted it in his studio in Paris, after being inspired by African art that he saw at the Ethnographic Museum of the Trocadéro. The painting is currently part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, where it will be displayed in the exhibition Picasso in Fontainebleau from October 8, 2023 to February 17, 2024.
Guernica is Picasso’s most famous painting and one of his most powerful political statements. It depicts the horrors of war and the suffering of civilians after the bombing of Guernica, a Basque town in northern Spain, by Nazi German and Fascist Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War. The painting is a large-scale mural that measures 3.49 meters by 7.76 meters (11 feet by 25 feet), and it is composed of black, white, and gray tones. It shows a chaotic scene of people and animals in agony, with symbols such as a bull, a horse, a light bulb, and a broken sword. Picasso painted it in Paris in response to a commission from the Spanish Republican government for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. The painting became an icon of anti-war activism and a symbol of peace. It is currently housed at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS) in Madrid, where it will be part of the exhibition Picasso: War Years from March 29 to July 31, 2023.
The Weeping Woman (1937)
The Weeping Woman is a series of paintings that Picasso made between May and June 1937, as a continuation of his Guernica project. The paintings portray the same subject: a woman crying inconsolably, with a handkerchief covering her mouth and a tear falling from her eye. The woman is Dora Maar, a photographer and artist who was Picasso’s lover and muse at the time. She also assisted him in documenting the creation of Guernica and posed for some of the figures in the mural. The paintings are an expression of Picasso’s empathy for the victims of war and violence, as well as his personal feelings for Dora Maar. They are also examples of his mastery of color and form, as he used different combinations of hues and shapes to convey different emotions. One of the most famous versions of The Weeping Woman is owned by Tate Modern in London, where it will be shown in the exhibition Picasso: Love & War from October 19, 2023 to February 18, 2024.
Girl before a Mirror (1932)
Girl before a Mirror is one of Picasso’s most celebrated paintings from his so-called “year of wonders”, when he produced some of his most vibrant and sensual works. It depicts Marie-Thérèse Walter, another lover and muse of Picasso who was 22 years old at the time. She is shown standing before a mirror that reflects her distorted image, with contrasting colors and shapes that suggest her dual personality or identity. The painting is also a metaphor for life and death, as some critics have interpreted the mirror image as a skull or a mask. The painting is full of symbolism and mystery that invite multiple interpretations. It is part of MoMA’s collection, where it will be featured in the exhibition Picasso in Fontainebleau from October 8, 2023 to February 17, 2024.
The Three Musicians (1921)
The Three Musicians is a pair of paintings that Picasso made in the summer of 1921, during his stay in Fontainebleau, France. They are considered to be his last major Cubist works, as well as his homage to the music and poetry of his friends. The paintings depict three figures in costumes that resemble the characters of the Italian commedia dell’arte: a harlequin, a pierrot, and a monk. The figures are also identified as Picasso himself, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and the painter Max Jacob, respectively. The paintings are composed of flat, colorful shapes that create a collage-like effect. They are also filled with references to Picasso’s personal and artistic life, such as musical instruments, masks, newspapers, and letters. One of the paintings belongs to MoMA1, where it will be exhibited in Picasso in Fontainebleau from October 8, 2023 to February 17, 20242. The other painting is owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art7, where it will be displayed in Picasso: The Great Transformation from June 13 to September 17, 2023.
The Old Guitarist (1903)
The Old Guitarist is one of the most iconic paintings from Picasso’s Blue Period, a phase in his early career when he used mostly blue tones and depicted themes of poverty, loneliness, and despair. The painting shows an old, blind man playing a guitar on the street, with his head tilted and his body bent. The painting is a reflection of Picasso’s own situation at the time, as he was struggling financially and emotionally after the death of his friend Carlos Casagemas. The painting also reveals Picasso’s admiration for the Spanish painter El Greco, whose elongated figures and expressive style influenced him. The painting is part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection, where it will be shown in the exhibition Picasso: The Blue Period from April 15 to August 20, 2023.
The Dream (1932)
The Dream is another masterpiece from Picasso’s “year of wonders”, when he painted many portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter in various states of sleep, relaxation, and eroticism. The painting shows her sitting on a red armchair with her eyes closed and her head tilted back, as if she is dreaming or having an orgasm. Her face is divided into two halves: one with soft, feminine features and warm colors, and the other with sharp, angular shapes and cool colors. The painting is a celebration of Picasso’s love and desire for Marie-Thérèse, as well as his exploration of the subconscious and the surreal. The painting is privately owned by Steven A. Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund manager, who lent it to the Fondation Beyeler in Switzerland for the exhibition Picasso: The Late Years from September 10, 2023 to January 14, 2024.
Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) (1955)
Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) (The Women of Algiers (Version O)) is one of a series of 15 paintings that Picasso made between December 1954 and February 1955, inspired by Eugène Delacroix’s 1834 painting The Women of Algiers in their Apartment. The painting depicts four women in a harem-like setting, surrounded by rich fabrics, fruits, flowers, and hookahs. The women are portrayed in Picasso’s signature Cubist style, with distorted faces and bodies that combine different angles and perspectives. The painting also incorporates elements from other sources, such as African masks, Matisse’s patterns, and Cézanne’s still lifes. The painting is a tribute to Picasso’s artistic influences and rivals, as well as a reflection of his fascination with exoticism and eroticism. The painting is currently the most expensive painting ever sold at auction, fetching $179.4 million in 2015. It is owned by Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar, who loaned it to the Louvre Abu Dhabi for the exhibition Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso-Paris from March 25 to July 15, 2023.
La Vie (1903)
La Vie (Life) is another prominent painting from Picasso’s Blue Period, which he considered to be one of his most important works. It depicts a complex scene of six figures in a studio: a naked couple embracing, a woman holding a baby, two men standing behind a curtain, and a painting of two nude women on an easel. The painting is full of symbolism and ambiguity that suggest various interpretations of life, love, death, art, and destiny. The painting also has a personal significance for Picasso, as he originally intended to portray himself and his friend Carlos Casagemas in the main roles, but later changed them to resemble his new lover Fernande Olivier and an unknown man. The painting is part of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection, where it will be displayed in the exhibition Picasso: The Blue Period from April 15 to August 20, 2023.
Les Saltimbanques (1905)
Les Saltimbanques (The Acrobats) is one of the most representative paintings from Picasso’s Rose Period, a phase in his career when he used mostly pink tones and depicted themes of circus performers, harlequins, and clowns. The painting shows a group of six acrobats resting in a field, with their costumes and props scattered around them. The painting is influenced by Picasso’s visits to the Cirque Médrano in Paris, where he befriended some of the performers and admired their skills and lifestyle. The painting also reflects Picasso’s own situation at the time, as he was transitioning from poverty to fame and success. The painting is part of the National Gallery of Art’s collection in Washington D.C., where it will be exhibited in the exhibition Picasso: The Rose Period from September 24, 2023 to January 7, 2024.
Pablo Picasso was a genius who revolutionized the art world with his creativity and innovation. His paintings are not only beautiful and impressive, but also meaningful and expressive. They reveal his thoughts and feelings, his influences and inspirations, his challenges and achievements, and his legacy and impact. In 2023, you have the opportunity to see some of his most famous paintings in various exhibitions around the world, as well as to learn more about his life and work. Don’t miss this chance to admire and appreciate the art of Picasso, one of the greatest artists of all time.
Most Asked Questions and Answers
Q: When and where was Picasso born?
A: Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, in Málaga, Spain.
Q: What was Picasso’s full name?
A: Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.
Q: How many children did Picasso have?
A: Picasso had four children: Paulo (with his first wife Olga Khokhlova), Maya (with his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter), Claude and Paloma (with his lover Françoise Gilot).
Q: How many paintings did Picasso make?
A: Picasso made about 13,500 paintings in his lifetime, as well as thousands of other artworks such as sculptures, prints, ceramics, etc.
Q: What are the main periods or styles of Picasso’s art?
A: Picasso’s art can be divided into several periods or styles, such as the Blue Period, the Rose Period, Cubism, Neoclassicism, Surrealism, Expressionism, etc.
Q: What is Cubism and how did Picasso create it?
A: Cubism is a style of art that breaks down the conventional representation of reality into geometric shapes and multiple perspectives. Picasso created it with his friend and fellow artist Georges Braque in the early 20th century.
Q: Who were some of Picasso’s lovers and muses?
A: Picasso had many lovers and muses throughout his life, such as Fernande Olivier, Eva Gouel, Olga Khokhlova, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot, Jacqueline Roque, etc.
Q: What are some of the themes or motifs that Picasso used in his paintings?
A: Picasso used many themes or motifs in his paintings, such as women, lovers, children, animals, music, circus performers, mythology, war, peace, etc.
Q: Where can you see some of Picasso’s paintings today?
A: You can see some of Picasso’s paintings today in many museums and institutions around the world, such as the Musée National Picasso-Paris in France, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Spain, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Tate Modern in London, etc.
Q: When and where did Picasso die?
A: Picasso died on April 8, 1973, in Mougins, France. He was 91 years old.