15 Anecdotes About Picasso

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The Musée National Picasso (National Picasso Museum) in Paris will reopen this coming October 25th after 5 years of work to renovate and create an addition to the museum. The date also happens to be Pablo Picasso’s birthday. He would be turning 123 years old. Artsper has decided to use the occasion to take a look back at the life and work of one of the most important artists of the 20th century in these 15 anecdotes.

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(c) Succession Picasso, 2014


Picasso’s full given name is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso.


According to his mother, Picasso’s first word was “piz”, as in “lapiz”, meaning “pencil” in Spanish.


He signed his first works Ruiz-Picasso and then for a time P.R-Picasso before ultimately opting for his mother’s last name, Picasso.

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(c) Succession Picasso, 2014


He produced his first painting at the age of 7, “The Little Yellow Picador”, which he refused to give up for his entire life.

picasso artsper


(c) Succession Picasso, 2014


Incredibly prolific, Picasso produced close to 50,000 works throughout his life – paintings, sculptures, ceramics, sketches, prints, tapestries, engravings, etc. The Musée National Picasso contains 300 paintings and 300 sculptures out of a total 5000 works donated as acceptance in lieu by Picasso’s heirs to pay inheritance taxes to the State.


People often asked Picasso to pay his bills with a drawing. He reportedly once refused to sign one of these drawings saying, “I’m buying a meal, not the whole restaurant.”


By X-raying certain paintings, scientists have discovered hidden images beneath the brush strokes. Nobody knows if it was because of a lack of resources or because of dissatisfaction that Picasso would paint over existing works. What we do know is that at the beginning of his career in Montmartre, he was forced to burn some of his works to keep warm.


Picasso loved poetry. Between 1935 and 1959, he composed more than 300 poems and also a play called “Desire Caught by the Tail.”


His Blue Period (1901-1904) was influenced by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas and by the sadness and destitution of those close to him.

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(c) Succession Picasso, 2014


His Rose Period (1904- 1906), marked by joy and romantic feelings, began when he met his first lover, Fernande Olivier, and was influenced by the world of the circus, which he frequented at the Cirque Médrano in Paris.

picasso artsper

(c) Succession Picasso, 2014


American Gertrude Stein was a big fan of Picasso, buying many paintings from him in the early days of his career. She is known for the portrait that Picasso painted of her in 1905. The painting required 90 sittings and when it was completed it was given to Stein as a gift. She told Picasso that the portrait didn’t look like her. He responded: “it will.”

stein picasso artsper


(c) Succession Picasso, 2014


In 1911, Picasso was accused of being an accomplice to the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, after declaring, “Good artists copy, great artists steal!”


Picasso was the first living artist to have a work shown in the Louvre. The 1971 exhibition was in honor of his 90 th birthday.


More than 1000 of the painter’s works are missing and are considered to have been lost or to have disappeared.


When Picasso was asked about his exceptional talent, he answered, “When I was a child, I would draw like Raphael, but it’s taken me an entire lifetime to learn to draw like a child.”

Arte will dedicate a special day to Picasso on Sunday, October 26th, with the airing of 4 new documentaries. The grand finale will be Picasso, l’inventaire d’une vie (Picasso, Inventory of a Life), 110 minutes, airing at 8:45 PM. Olivier Widmaier Picasso co-wrote the documentary with director Hugues Nancy. It’s the story of the artist’s estate and the discovery of tens of thousands of works that he had saved, which led to the donation to the State that allowed for the creation of the Picasso Museum in the Hôtel Salé in 1985.

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