Tomorrow, October 25th, is Pablo Picasso‘s 130th birthday. As most of you surely know, Picasso was a Spanish painter who co-founded the Cubist movement in the early part of the 20th Century. His full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name that pays homage to various saints and relatives and is quite challenging to say in one breath.
From an early age he had an interest in drawing. His father, Don José Ruiz y Blasco, was a painter who specialized in painting naturalistic portraits of birds and other game who felt that formal artistic training was important. So, from the age of seven, Pablo’s father trained him in figure drawing and oil painting. One popular story says that Picasso’s father discovered his son painting over his unfinished sketch of a pigeon at the age of thirteen and declared that his son had already surpassed him as an artist, whereupon he vowed to give up painting forever. When he was 16, his father enrolled him in the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Spain’s foremost art academy, but young Picasso disliked formal training and quit attending classes.
At the age of 19, Picasso went to Paris for the first time and met and eventually shared a room with the poet Max Jacob, who helped Picasso learn French. Eventually he made the acquaintance of the American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein who became collectors of his work, with Gertrude eventually becoming his principle patron and champion of his work. In 1909 he invented analytic Cubism with Georges Braque, a style of painting characterized by neutral colors and a shape-based, deconstruction of its subjects.
Picasso is well-known for his cubist works but he produced works that had influences of realism, symbolism, modernism, neo-classical and surrealism. He was also a prolific sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and stage designer. The total number of works that he produced in his lifetime is said to be approximately 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs; an estimated 50,000 pieces of art! His paintings have been ranked as the world’s most expensive as well. One of his paintings, Garçon à la pipe , which he painted when he was 24 years old in 1905 sold for an unprecedented $104,168,000 in 2004.
Tomorrow, in recognition of Picasso’s birthday the good folks at People’s Improve Theater in New York, or
“The Pit” as it’s affectionately known, are throwing Pablo a birthday party that they claim “will have him rolling in the grave, with laughter!” Guests include Eugene Mirman (see video clip) and Kristen Schaal of Flight of the Conchords fame, Nick Turner and “other internationally known cubists.” What does stand-up comedy have to do with fine art? Well, you’ll have to head on down to The Pit to find out but with this line-up, it’s bound to be good. Plus, half the proceeds go to the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Tickets are still available here so get out there and say “Happy Birthday Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.” You may have to add in a few extra bars to the birthday song to fit in that name though so be prepared.