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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the artistic direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Pablo Picasso

(1881 - 1973), Spain

With his revolutionary approaches to modes of representation and creation in paintings, sculptures, ceramics, drawings, collages, and prints that contributed to several art movements, including Cubism and Surrealism, Pablo Picasso is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Born in 1881 in Málaga, Spain, Picasso learned drawing and painting from his father, who was also an artist. His talent was recognised at an early age, leading him to be admitted to the Barcelona School of Fine Arts at 14. By 1897, he had enrolled to study at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. Early paintings such as First Communion (1896), which depicts his sister Lola kneeling before the altar, reveal his mastery of perspective and lighting. Despite his education, however, he was dissatisfied with the academic system, instead frequenting The Prado Museum to familiarise himself with the works of artists such as El Greco, Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco de Zurbarán.

Picasso left Spain for Paris in 1900, but returned not long after, visiting again for extended periods in 1901 and 1902. During the so-called 'Blue Period' (1901–1904), he portrayed subjects living on the margins of society—the poor, prostitutes, vagrants—with a palette of mainly blue, fostering an air of melancholy. He often depicted his figures with elongated limbs and sombre expressions, not only adding to the blue tone of his works but also recalling the solemn saints found in El Greco's paintings.

After relocating to Paris in 1904, Picasso found better prospects, including the patronage of American art collector and writer Gertrude Stein. In the years known as the 'Rose Period' (1904–1906), he primarily painted with varieties of pink and moved to Montmartre, a district populated by entertainers. One of his best-known paintings, Boy with a Pipe (1905) shows a lean boy dressed in blue, holding a pipe and wearing a garland; behind him is an orange background with pink and white flowers.

Picasso also began to experiment with elements of ancient Iberian and African culture. Early examples include Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1905), in which Stein appears seated with a mask-like face. In 1907, he completed Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, a large oil painting featuring five naked women composed of bold shapes and simple, angular masses evocative of African art. The profile of the figure on the left, for example, evokes ancient Egyptian portraiture. The artist also drew from the ancient Iberian sculpture he had seen at the Louvre and an African mask that his friend Henri Matisse owned. While his close friends and the art world reacted negatively at first, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon came to be recognised for its radical departure from figurative painting—especially idealised female beauty—as it was understood by academic painting at the time.

Picasso's subsequent stylistic changes can be found in his representation of human figures over the decades. In paintings such as Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1910) and Ma Jolie (1911–1912), human forms are almost unrecognisable, having been segmented into intersecting planes and lines. This approach is characteristic of Cubism, a style he and his fellow painter Georges Braque invented around 1907, exploring new ways of representing reality by using multiple viewpoints.

In 1912, Picasso introduced the element of collage to his work, incorporating materials such as newspaper advertisements, wallpaper, and wickerwork. The early 1920s saw him briefly paint in the Neoclassical fashion, returning to figurative representation with paintings such as Woman in White (1923), while Nude Standing by the Sea (1929) shows the influence of Surrealism with a female nude composed of geometric limbs and a curved body.

In the 1930s Picasso began to portray figures with inventively sinuous contours, rendering these distortions in bold colours or monochrome. Guernica (1937)—a large mural painting created in reaction to the Nazi bombing of the town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War—depicts the horrors of war through contorted human bodies and animals. Many of his post-War works directly reference canonical paintings in Western art history—in both titles and compositions—such as Las Meninas (1957), after Velázquez, or Luncheon on the Grass (1961), after Edouard Manet.

Picasso was the first great 20th-century art world star. He was inventiveness personified, a poet and an intellectual: a wealthy celebrity greatly admired for his phenomenal drawing skills but also, posthumously, criticised for his poor treatment of his wives and lovers. After a long and extraordinarily creative life he died in Mougins, France, in 1973.

Biography by Ocula | 2019
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Featured Artworks

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Autoportrait avec deux femmes by Pablo Picasso contemporary artwork
Pablo PicassoAutoportrait avec deux femmes, 1972 Etching
50 x 65.5 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris
Tête de femme by Pablo Picasso contemporary artwork
Pablo PicassoTête de femme, c. 1952 Cut-out metal
6.5 x 6.5 x 1.5 cm
Waddington Custot
Three drawings by Pablo Picasso contemporary artwork
Pablo PicassoThree drawings, 1970 Coloured pencils, ink, marker on book
31.9 x 50.4 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
Paysage by Pablo Picasso contemporary artwork
Pablo PicassoPaysage, 1965 Oil on cardboard
50 x 80 cm
Hauser & Wirth
La Pause by Pablo Picasso contemporary artwork
Pablo PicassoLa Pause, 1951 Pencil on paper
32 x 24 cm
Hauser & Wirth
La Dame à la Collerette (Portrait de Jacqueline à la Fraise) by Pablo Picasso contemporary artwork
Pablo PicassoLa Dame à la Collerette (Portrait de Jacqueline à la Fraise), 1962 Linocut on Arches paper
62.2 x 44.5 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
Nature Morte sous la Lampe by Pablo Picasso contemporary artwork
Pablo PicassoNature Morte sous la Lampe, 1962 Linocut
74.5 x 61.2 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery
Picador et Torero by Pablo Picasso contemporary artwork
Pablo PicassoPicador et Torero, 1959 Linocut
59.7 x 74.9 cm
Cristea Roberts Gallery

Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Pablo Picasso, Seeing Picasso, Maker of the Modern at Pace Gallery, Palo Alto
Open Now
2 November 2019–16 February 2020 Pablo Picasso Seeing Picasso, Maker of the Modern Pace Gallery, Palo Alto
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Prints at Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris, Paris
26 November 2019–18 January 2020 Group Exhibition Prints Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris, 13 Rue de Téhéran
Contemporary art exhibition, Louise Bourgeois & Pablo Picasso, Anatomies of Desire at Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
9 June–14 September 2019 Louise Bourgeois & Pablo Picasso Anatomies of Desire Hauser & Wirth, Zürich

Represented By

In Related Press

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SPOTLIGHT: PICASSO Related Press SPOTLIGHT: PICASSO Gagosian Quarterly : 15 November 2019

'The breasts and distended abdomen were made with the help of three water pitchers; the belly from a portion of a large one, and the breasts from two small ones, all picked up from the scrap heap. The rest was modeled. The fact that the figure was only about half the normal size gave it a grotesque appearance. It had almost no feet, it swayed...

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LOOSE CANON Related Press LOOSE CANON ARTFORUM : 21 October 2019

IN JUNE, NEW YORK'S MUSEUM OF MODERN ART WENT DARK to put the finishing touches on its contentious five-year expansion, which promised to put $450 million and 47,000 square feet of Diller Scofidio + Renfro architecture toward fostering a 'deeper experience of art' across boundaries of media, geography, and identity. Today, MoMA emerges from its...

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New York's MoMA unveils $450m expansion and 'remix' of collection Related Press New York's MoMA unveils $450m expansion and 'remix' of collection The Guardian : 10 October 2019

New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) unveiled its new $450m expansion on Thursday in a revamp of the gallery – including a radical "remix" of its permanent collection, which will see famous works exhibited alongside those of lesser-known artists.The popular Manhattan museum, which attracts 3 million visitors a year, has been closed...

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Painting’s Patriarchal Spirit Related Press Painting’s Patriarchal Spirit Hyperallergic : 20 October 2018

LONDON—In 1981, the Royal Academy of Arts in London put on an exhibition of 20th century painting that changed the art world. A New Spirit in Painting was 'a manifesto,' the accompanying catalogue said; it showcased a set of contemporary, mostly European painters, whose work possessed qualities—figurative, narrative, emotional,...

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