Pablo Picasso


Pablo Picasso Picasso was born in 1881 in a house (now a "Casa Natal museum) in Plaza de la Merced in Málaga, the first child of Don José Ruiz y Blasco (1838-1913) and María Picasso y López

He was baptised Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso in the Santiago Apostal parish church in Calle Granada where a small plaque can be seen on the façade.

When Pablo was 10 years old the family moved to La Coruñain Galicia, where his father became a professor at the School of Fine Arts. They stayed almost four years before moving to Barcelona.

Picasso Returns to Málaga five times

In summer 1895, in between the move from La Coruña to Barcelona, the family returned to Málaga by train, via a few hours in Madrid where Picasso was taken to the Prado and made sketches of Velázquez. In Málaga they stayed at 97 Calle Cortina del Muelle, the house of Picasso's uncle Dr Salvador who gave Pablo an allowance of five pesetas a day, a studio and models including an old sailor called Salméron. Notable paintings from this visit are "Still life with Fruit", "Columbus at the Monastery of La Rabida", various oil sketches of Málaga harbour and a nude study of José Roman. These painting were not of the quality of his earlier La Coruña works.

The family returned to Málaga for a six-week holiday in 1896. On this visit Pablo painted a portrait of Aunt Pepa, a couple of small paintings of bulls, and a large black bull seen sideways which became the archetypal Picasso bull. 

At this time Picasso's father sent 16-year-old Pablo to Madrid's Real Academía de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Pablo disliked formal instruction and stopped attending classes soon after enrolment.

By summer 1897 Uncle Salvador had married into aristocracy, namely Adelaida Martinez Loring. He had moved into a grander house at 49 Alhameda. Pablo stayed in an apartment on Plaza Mitana. This  was a "fallow phase" and his only recorded work is a portrait of cousin Mariquita Padrón. Uncle Salvador disapproved of his headstrong nephew andthe way he now signed his works: P Riuz Picasso or P R Picasso. The portrait was received as  "a grotesque daub" and was destroyed by her. To the delight of the family Pablo began courting his pretty cousin Carmen Blasco Alarcon, and they went walking on the Camino de la Caleta. Their hopes were dashed at the end of the summer holiday when he returned to Barcelona and all he gave her as a leaving present was a tambourine with a bunch of roses painted on the membrane. 

In 1899 Pablo was seldom apart from his friend Carles Casagemas. They travelled to Málaga again, where Pablo confirmed to Carmen that he did not intend to marry her. His works at this time were sombre drawings of bullfights, a fish vendor, a rape scene, some whores, a watercolour of a scrawny gypsycalled "La Chata", and possibly "Lola La Chata", a local madam. He visited Paris in 1900 and was impressed with the art scene.

In January 1901 Picasso needed to pay 1200 pesetas to avoid military service. In order to wheedle the money out of Uncle Salvador, a family visit was required. Pablo and Casagemas arrived together on New Year's Day, having worn the same corduroy suits for several months. The landlady of the hostel "Las Tres Naciones" in Calle Casas Quemadas (long since demolished - its location is now Calle Marín García Nº 16) refused them a room. Fortunately a cousin vouched for the pair. Uncle Salvador was appalled by the decadents, not helped by the fact that Casagemas was drunk all the time. Salvador threw their clothes into a dustbin and packed them off to the barber and the tailor. Pablo, fuelled by his uncle's disapproval, refused to make family visits and hung out in port-side bars, gypsy dives and whore houses, including that of Lola La Chata. After 10 days Pablo gave up on Casagemas and, helped by Salvador, he put him on a boat to Barcelona en route to Paris,where he shot himself a month later. Not receiving the funds from Salvador, on 28 January 1901, Picasso took the train to  Madrid and this was the last time he set foot in Málaga. 

Post Málaga


In Madrid Picasso illustrated the magazine Arte Joven (Young Art) founded by his anarchist friend Francisco de Asís Soler, mostly contributing grim cartoons depicting and sympathising with the state of the poor. He started to sign his work simply "Picasso". After a few months here turned to Paris, and over the next few years generally lived between Paris and Barcelona.

This was the beginning of Picasso's Blue Period (1901-1904), characterised by sombre paintings rendered in shades of blue and blue-green. After this came the Rose Period (1904-1906) characterised by a lighter tone and style utilising orange and pink colours, and featuring circus people, acrobats and harlequins. Later came the Analytic Cubism (1909-1912) style of painting Picasso developed with Georges Braque, using monochrome brownish and neutral colours. Both artists took apart objects and "analysed" them in terms of their shapes.

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 Picasso was living in Avignon where,unlike his French comrades, he was not conscripted and was able to continue painting uninterrupted. Among his friends during this period were Jean Cocteau, Jean Hugo and Juan Gris. His paintings became more sombre.

In summer 1918, Picasso married Olga Khokhlova, a ballerina. The two had a son, Paulo, in 1921.

In 1934 Picasso took summer holidays in Spain with Olga and Paulo. They travelled to San Sebastian, Madrid, Toledo and finally Barcelona, where he visited the soon-to-be-opened Museu d'Art de Catalunya in early September. This was to be his last visit to Spain. He separated from Olga the following year and his daughter Maya was born to Marie-Thérèse Walter.

In 1936 he sided with the Republicans at the start of the Spanish Civil War and lived in Mougins (France). He was made Honorary Director of the Prado.

Guernica was exhibited in July 1937 in the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition. Guernica is his best-known masterpiece, and in it we see how the Spanish Civil War - and especially the bombings - affected the artist.

In 1944, after the liberation of Paris, Picasso, then 63 years old, began a romantic relationship with an art student named Françoise Gilot, who was 40 years younger. They had two children: Claude, born in 1947, and Palomain 1949.

Jacqueline Roque (1927-1986) worked at the Madoura Pottery in Vallauris on the French Riviera, where Picasso made and painted ceramics. She became his lover, and then his second wife in 1961. The two remained together for the remainder of Picasso's life.

Picasso's eldest son Paulo and wife Christine visited Málaga in 1954 on the artist's behalf with a view to exhibiting his works. The authorities were not interested. 

Posthumous events


Pablo Picasso died on 8 April 1973 in Mougins aged 92 without leaving a will and, in order to pay French inheritance tax, half of his art collection passed to the state and is today exhibited in Paris.  

Two years before his death, in October 1971, a delegation from Málaga Town Hall went to Notre-Dame-de-Vie in France but Picasso refused to see them. The delegation stayed in a hotel in Mougins and sent a telegram to the Mayor of Málaga asking how to deal with the snub. (The telegram is in Málaga Town Hall's archives, according to his leading biographer, John Richardson, in "A life of Picasso: the Prodigy (Volume 1 1881-1906)".

Picasso's life-long resentment of his birthplace is now conveniently forgotten in Málaga. He never returned after 1901, although it was not possible after 1936. He resented the backwardness, listlessness and air of defeat. Málaga in 1890 was suffering from the phylloxera "blight" disease that had just wiped out vineyards. Barcelona was, by contrast, a city of opportunity. John Richardson explained that the resentment was more to do with his rich Uncle Salvador, the benefactor who stood for the bourgeois hypocrisy and stuffiness that Picasso associated with Málaga.

Christine (daughter in-law) has said Picasso always wanted his art to return to Málaga. Whether this is true or not, the inauguration of the Palacio del Obispo (Bishops Palace) in 1992 was enough for it to be commemorated with the exhibition "Picasso Clásic". This encouraged Christine to commence negotiations with the Andalucian regional government for her family's works to be transferred to a jointly run foundation with a permanent exhibition in Málaga in the specially reformed Buenavente Palace. Málaga lost its Fine Arts Museum, whose works went into storage until 2016 when Malaga Museum was opened.

Picasso was exceptionally prolific. The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000, comprising 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.


Living in Andalucia