HAIRCUT 100: Day 88, No. 88. Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973): alongside Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp, probably the most significant, innovative, revolutionary and influential artist of the twentieth century, his work defining Modernism in painting and the plastic arts. Picasso was born in Spain – the son of an art teacher – but spent most of his life in France. As a child, he showed exceptional talent, which blossomed in Paris at the start of the new century, amidst a Bohemian atmosphere charged with the stirrings of avant-garde rebellion. The influence of Munch, Lautrec, Renoir, Gauguin, and van Gogh can be felt in his early work, dancing across the canvas and leaving behind them a passion for blue. This became the dominant colour for Picasso’s depiction of the Mysteries of Paris: the beggar, the whore, the sick and the starving.
Picasso’s stunning painting ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (‘The Young Ladies of Avignon,’ 1907), portrays five naked prostitutes with mask-like faces in a confrontational stance, the artist abandoning perspective in favor of a flat, two-dimensional plane that radically breaks with traditional European representation. This was a revolutionary and controversial work that already anticipated the cubism of ‘Girl with a Mandolin. (1910). Like Giotto, Michelangelo, and Bernini; Wordsworth and Coleridge; Elvis, The Beatles and The Sex Pistols, Picasso’s work stands at the beginning of a new epoch. He was as prolific as he was protean, working in different mediums and radically different styles, ranging from classical realism to cubism, primitivism, neo-classicism, surrealism and monumental archetypes. It has been estimated that Picasso produced around 50,000 pieces in his life, achieving universal recognition and a vast fortune. This year, Picasso’s painting ‘Femme Assise’ (1909) sold for £43.2 million at Sotheby’s. ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’