Pablo Picasso's Aesthetic Revolution

Geniuses are those who learn from those who preceded them, and build a new path, invent their own language, leave an unmistakable mark. This is undoubtedly what happened to Picasso.

May 28, 2023 - 21:20
Pablo Picasso's Aesthetic Revolution
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, by Pablo Picasso (1907) - Museum of Modern Art, New York

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, commonly known as Pablo Picasso, was born on October 25, 1881, in Málaga, Spain. He was the first of three children born to José Ruiz Blasco and María Picasso López.

Picasso's father was an art teacher and a painter. His mother also had an interest in art, and she often provided him with drawing materials and encouraged his artistic endeavors.

Picasso received formal art training at his father's studio in Málaga. He was exposed to academic art techniques and traditions, and by the age of sixteen, he had completed his first major painting, "First Communion."

The young Pablo showed remarkable talent in drawing from a very young age. He reportedly made his first drawings at the age of seven, and by the time he was thirteen, he had surpassed his father's artistic abilities.

In 1895, when Picasso was fourteen, his family moved to Barcelona, a vibrant and artistic city. Barcelona provided Picasso with new opportunities to immerse himself in the art scene and expand his artistic horizons.

Picasso's early paintings were displayed in local exhibitions and received some recognition. Despite his young age, his artistic talent was evident, and he began to develop his own distinctive style.

During his teenage years, Picasso experimented with various styles, including realism and impressionism. He was also influenced by Spanish artists like Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya, as well as French Post-Impressionists such as Toulouse-Lautrec.


Pablo Picasso's artistic influences were vast and diverse, as he drew inspiration from a wide range of sources throughout his prolific career. Some of the most significant artistic influences on Picasso include:

  • African Art: Picasso was deeply influenced by African tribal art, particularly during his "African Period" in the early 1900s. He admired the bold geometric forms and expressive qualities found in African masks and sculptures, which had a profound impact on his development of Cubism.

  • Paul Cézanne: The works of French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne had a lasting impact on Picasso. Cézanne's exploration of form and structure influenced Picasso's transition from a more realistic style to a more geometric and analytical approach in his art.

  • Iberian Art: Picasso was influenced by the ancient Iberian sculptures found in the Iberian Peninsula, particularly in Spain. The angular and stylized forms of these artworks also contributed to the development of Cubism.

  • El Greco: The Spanish Renaissance painter El Greco's elongated figures and expressive use of color inspired Picasso's exploration of elongated forms and expressive distortions in his art.

  • Henri Toulouse-Lautrec: The works of the French Post-Impressionist painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, known for his depictions of the Parisian nightlife, influenced Picasso's interest in depicting scenes of bohemian life and cabaret culture.

  • Symbolism and Surrealism: Picasso's exposure to Symbolism and Surrealism during the early 20th century influenced his later works, such as "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," which incorporated distorted and fragmented forms.

  • Classical and Renaissance Art: Picasso's admiration for classical art and the works of Renaissance masters can be seen in his later neoclassical works, where he revisited classical themes and techniques.

  • Spanish Masters: Picasso's Spanish heritage played a crucial role in his artistic development. He drew inspiration from Spanish artists like Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and El Greco, as well as traditional Spanish art and folklore.

  • Personal Life and Experiences: Picasso's personal experiences, relationships, and emotional states significantly influenced his art. His family, lovers, and friends often appeared as subjects in his paintings and sculptures.

Picasso's ability to assimilate and reinterpret various artistic influences from different periods and cultures is a testament to his artistic genius and his pivotal role in shaping the course of modern art. 

A revolution in modern art

On the other hand, Pablo Picasso's influence on modern art is immeasurable, as he played a central role in shaping the course of 20th-century art and beyond. His groundbreaking contributions can be seen in various aspects of modern art:

  • Cubism: Alongside Georges Braque, Picasso co-founded Cubism, one of the most significant movements in modern art. Cubism revolutionized artistic representation by breaking down subjects into geometric forms, challenging traditional perspective, and exploring multiple viewpoints simultaneously. This shift away from realistic representation influenced countless artists and laid the groundwork for abstraction.

  • Abstraction and Non-Representational Art: Picasso's explorations in Cubism and subsequent styles inspired artists to further push the boundaries of abstraction. He demonstrated that art could go beyond merely depicting the visible world and embrace pure abstraction, influencing the development of movements like Abstract Expressionism and geometric abstraction.

  • Collage and Assemblage: Picasso's innovative use of collage, incorporating found objects and materials into his art, paved the way for new artistic techniques. This approach greatly expanded the possibilities of art-making and led to the development of assemblage and mixed media art.

  • Fragmentation and Deconstruction: Picasso's habit of deconstructing and rearranging forms in his art influenced subsequent generations of artists. This fragmentation and reassembly of elements can be seen in various art movements, from Surrealism to contemporary art practices.

  • Multiple Artistic Styles: Picasso's prolific career showcased his ability to work in various artistic styles, ranging from Blue and Rose Periods to his neoclassical phase and Surrealism. His versatility demonstrated that artists need not be confined to a single style, inspiring later artists to explore different artistic approaches.

  • Impact on Contemporary Art: Picasso's legacy continues to inspire contemporary artists across mediums. His fusion of the traditional and the experimental, as well as his willingness to challenge conventions, has been emulated by artists seeking to forge new paths in art.

  • Cultural Icon: Picasso's persona and life story have become almost as famous as his art. His reputation as an artistic genius, along with his bohemian lifestyle and passionate affairs, have shaped the public perception of what an artist can be.

  • Global Recognition: Picasso's influence on modern art is not limited to Western culture. His art and ideas have had a profound impact on artists around the world, and his name remains synonymous with modern artistic innovation worldwide.

Picasso's impact on modern art is marked by his pioneering contributions to Cubism, his exploration of abstraction and non-representational art, his use of collage and assemblage, his versatile artistic styles, and his enduring influence on contemporary art. He remains an iconic figure whose legacy continues to shape and inspire generations of artists.

Yamanu Chisisi Member of EA Coordination Team