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15 Anecdotes About Picasso
A closer look 12 Feb 2018

15 Anecdotes About Picasso

Pablo Picasso, Guernica
Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937

Pablo Picasso is perhaps the most iconic artist of the twentieth century. He towers over the history of modern and contemporary art. In this article, Artsper has taken the opportunity to look back at the life and work of one of the most important artists of the history of art in these 15 anecdotes that cover all things cubism, blue period and much more about the Grand Master.

1. His full name

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Portrait of Picasso in his home in Cannes

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.

2. His first word

Pablo Picasso
Picasso as a child

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

3. His signature

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Picasso’s signature

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.

4. His first painting

Pablo Picasso
The Little Yellow Picador (1889)

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

5. More than 50 000 works

Pablo Picasso

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.

6. Pay his bills by Drawing

Pablo Picasso
Dove of Peace, 1961

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.”

7. Hidden images beneath the brush strokes

Pablo Picasso
The old blind guitarist, 1903

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.

8. Is Picasso a Poet ?

Pablo Picasso
A poem by Picasso

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

9. The reason of his Blue Period

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La Célestina, 1904

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.

10. And why a Pink Period ?

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“Maternità”, 1905

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.

11. His proximity with a Major Figure of Art

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Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1906

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”.

12. He was accused of stealing the Mona Lisa


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!”

13. He was the first artist to exhibit at the Louvre during his lifetime


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

14. More than 1000 of his works were stolen

Stolen Picasso
La coiffeuse, 1911

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

15. His artistic Secret

Picasso, Sketch of a horse

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.

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