Pablo Ruiz y Picasso showed artistic ability at an early age, and when he began to study art seriously in Barcelona and Madrid, he was already a skilled painter. In the early 1900s he visited and eventually settled in Paris, where he was part of a vibrant artistic community that included Gertrude Stein. Although greatly influenced by other artists in Europe and beyond, Picasso was inventive and prolific, and early in his career earned a worldwide reputation as an innovator. Along with Henri Matisse, he is considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. His enormous body of work spans so many years that art experts generally separate his career into distinct phases, such as the blue period, the Rose Period and his most famous contribution to modern art, Cubism. Picasso, unlike so many before him, was an international celebrity as well as an important contributor to the world of art.
His father was an art teacher, and the young Pablo grew up in an artistic environment. By the age of fourteen, he was an accomplished draftsman, and in 1900 at age nineteen, he made his first trip to Paris. There he studied the Old Masters, Classical sculpture and also was exposed to the paintings of impressionists and Post Impressionists.
Between 1901 and 1904, his work was dominated by a blue palette, which has led to this time being called his “Blue Period”. Blue, for him, was to symbolize the “…suffering-frequent hunger and cold, the hardships he experienced while attempting to establish himself.” (Aranson, 125) By 1905, his ‘Rose or Circus Period’ was beginning, and also later that year, he became doing painting reflective of a growing interest in African masks. By 1907, he painted what is regarded as his first masterpiece and as the first Cubist painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
Although he said: “I think about Death all the time. She is the only woman who never leaves me.” (Walther) His relationships with ‘live women influenced much of his artwork. It is thought that his switch from ‘blue’ to ‘rose’ that is from depression to happiness was determined by his meeting Fernande Olivier, allegedly his first serious female relationship. He lived with her for seven years. From that time, he did numerous portraits of wives, children and mistresses.