Pablo Picasso was a prominent Spanish artist, famous for his numerous works of different styles and techniques. Picasso is believed to be one of the founders of cubism, an avant-garde art movement that appeared at the beginning of 20th century. The first cubist painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) comprises many traits of artist’s personal style and gives a hint about the personal feelings and attitudes towards women. One of the last cubist paintings, Guernica (1937), which was created thirty years later, shows Picasso’s changes and the new way of expressing political concerns through the canvas.
Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 in Spain. First he studied painting with his father and later he attended schools of fine arts in Corunna, Barcelona and Madrid. Since 1904 Picasso lived in Paris, and that is why he is sometimes considered to be French artist. His first significant works were painted in the beginning of 20th century. Generally, there were several periods of Picasso’s work each of them characterized by specific features and peculiarities. For instance, works of Blue period were painted in gloomy blue and green colors while in paintings of Rose period Picasso use rose, gold and grey shades. All the paintings of the two mentioned periods were dedicated to the loneliness of poor and blind people and wandering actors. In 1907 Picasso created the painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which marked the break with realistic tradition and showed the interest of the artist to avant-garde. Passion to African sculpture led Picasso to new art movement, which was called cubism. The artist reduced a thing into geometric elements, dealing with the combinations of breaking planes and towering volumes. By means of cubism, he transformed the reality into a set of abstract parts. In the late 30s Picasso’s work became more connected with the historical events of those times. In 1936-1939 the painter became a prominent figure in Popular front in France and took part in struggle of Spanish people against fascism. Among the most famous works are Woman in Tears (1937), Wounded Bird and Cat (1939), series The Dream and Lie of Franco and many others (Richardson 64). One of the most crucial protests against fascism is expressed in the monumental painting Guernica. Later works also contained antiwar motives. After the war Picasso parodied the paintings of previous artists and worked as a sculptor, ceramist and graphic. Pablo Picasso died in 1973 in Mougins, France.
When in 1907 Picasso decided to stop experiments with color and to leave Blue and Rose periods behind, he paid much attention to the analysis of the form and its deformation. At this time he created his first cubist work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. According to one of the versions, the “plot” of the painting was taken from the brothel situated in Barcelona. Another version says that Picasso meant some problems in private life (Dagen 17). On the canvas we see five naked women, painted in different styles. Two right figures have faces, resembling African masks and they seem to symbolize the appearance of cubism, new movement in art. The painting relates to African period of Picasso’s work, but at the same time the masks and the hand, which moves the curtain, mark the new stage of artist’s work. Women are painted in rose color, and the background has blue shades. These issues remind about the early oeuvre of Pablo Picasso. It goes without saying that this painting played a key role not only in the life and style of Picasso, but in the general development of modern art as well. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was presented in 30 years after its painting and was accepted quite controversially (Richardson 43). Thus, this painting was the first one, where Picasso breaks the lines and volumes, cuts faces and transforms separate elements into geometric forms. All the works painted in this new style was quickly bought up, and the artist became more wealthy and famous.
In 1937 Pablo Picasso created one more prominent canvas, which was called Guernica. It was painted in black and white colors in the style of cubism. The bloody events, namely the raid and bombing, took place in the small Spanish town and took lives of more than 2000 innocent people. Picasso was commissioned to create a painting that would show all the tragedy of these events, and he managed to cope with the task in a month. The main images on Guernicaare mother with dead child in her arms, dead horse and defeated horseman, bull and another woman with the lamp. All these images are symbolic. The viewers see horror in the eyes of depicted people and they are able to draw a parallel between the picture and the real events. For instance, bull in considered a symbol of death, cruelty, war. Black and white colors exaggerate all the images and the general message of the painting.
Thus, comparing and contrasting the two mentioned paintings in terms of Picasso’s style and its changing, it needs to be mentioned that they have both similarities and differences. Both Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Guernicahave cubist lines and cut elements of reality. But the changes that occurred in 30 years are also quiet obvious. Picasso paid less attention to the color in his first cubist painting and later in Guernicahe lost it at all, and we see the picture in black and white color. Besides, while Les Demoiselles d’Avignon stresses the feelings of the artist and his personal point of view at some things, the later work expresses the feelings of many people, who suffered from the events in Guernica. At the same time, this painting makes the viewers think about images on the canvas and what is more they can experience them and live them though. To my way of thinking, the political and social events influenced the techniques and style of Pablo Picasso greatly and they are seen almost at first sight.
Summing up, Pablo Picasso is a unique artist who made an invaluable contribution to the development of modern art. All his works are the great examples of avant-garde art. Picasso was one of the founders of cubism, which is characteristic to many of his paintings. Cut lines, geometric figures, broken reality and abstract elements are few of the main features of Picasso’s works, by means of which the artist managed to transmit his inner world, feelings and emotions. The analysis of his two prominent paintings, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937) helps us to understand how can an artist change and develop under the influence of social and political events, self-development and age-progress.