10 Interesting Facts About Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso wearing a hat 1962
Pablo Picasso in 1962.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Pablo Picasso is considered to be one of the most prolific artists in modern history. From Guernica to Le Demoiselles d’Avignon, his work is often considered as some of the best. You may be familiar with some of Picasso’s work, but how much do you really know about his life? In this article, we are going to look at 10 interesting facts that you may not know about the famous Spanish painter. 

1. Picasso’s first words foreshadowed his career.

Pablo Picasso as a child
Pablo Picasso as a child with his sister Lola, 1889.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Picasso is said to have been a talented artist from a very young age. According to Picasso’s mother, his first word was “piz”, short for “lápiz”, the Spanish word for pencil. From the age of seven, Picasso received artistic training from his father, and at the age of nine Picasso completed his first painting, El Picador. Some 4 years later Picasso would be admitted into the School of Fine Arts of Barcelona.

2. Picasso’s full name was 20 words long.

Pablo Picasso may be the name we are most familiar with, and perhaps we have even heard his slightly longer name Pablo Ruiz Picasso, but his actual full name was incredibly long. In his baptism record, he was named Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, whereas in his birth certificate, his name only went as far as 15 words. His absurdly long name can be attributed to a variety of saints and relatives.

3. Picasso was much more than just a painter.

The co-founder of the Cubist movement and co-inventor of the collage was passionate for more than just one art form. Although we mostly remember his famous paintings, Picasso was also a sculptor, ceramicist, theatre designer, printmaker, poet, and playwright. His written works, however, began until the age of 53, when Picasso became an avid poet and wrote hundreds of poems.

4. Picasso was probably the most prolific artist.

Picasso photographed in front of one of his paintings.
Pablo Picasso in front of his painting The Aficionado, 1912
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The artist responsible for the Guernica is said to have made more than 13,500 paintings and designs, around 100,000 prints and engravings, and more than 300 sculptures. Guinness World Records holds Picasso as the most prolific painter in what were 75 years of a professional artistic career, and his works are valued as some of the most expensive.

5. Picasso was a ladies’ man.

Olga Khokhlova
Picasso’s first wife, Olga Khokhlova, in Picasso’s Montrouge studio, 1918. This image was then painted by Picasso – Portrait d’Olga dans un fauteuil (Portrait of Olga in an Armchair)
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Picasso had a famously complicated relationship with love; he was married 2 times and had children with 3 women. His first wife, Olga Kohklova, died in 1955, but the pair had begun living separate lives some 20 years earlier. His second marriage came with Jacqueline Roque, a French woman who became his muse and wife for 11 years. All throughout his life, Picasso enjoyed the company of lovers who were very frequently his muses at the same time.

6. Picasso had a strange encounter with a Nazi.

Picasso painting Guernica
Pablo Picasso’s Guernica painted in 1937.
Credit: Peter Collins // CC BY-SA 2.0

During the German occupation of Paris in the Second World War, Picasso decided to remain in the city. His work did not match with the artistic expectations and style of the Nazis, which made it impossible for him to exhibit his art. Picasso had numerous encounters with the German secret police, the Gestapo. On one occasion, the Gestapo were searching Picasso’s apartment and when looking at a photograph of Guernica a Nazi officer asked, “Did you do that?”, to which Picasso comically replied, “No, you did”.

7. Picasso’s paintings are amongst the most stolen.

Stolen Picasso painting Le pigeon aux petits pois
Le pigeon aux petit pois (Pigeon with peas) which was one of five paintings stolen from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris on 20 May 2010 and as of 2021 has still yet to be found.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The combined factors of quality and quantity make Picasso’s work very attractive for thieves. His works can be sold at incredibly high prices and the sheer amount produced by Picasso make them ideal for art robberies. To this day more than 1,000 works of Picasso remain stolen.

8. Picasso was a relatively bad student.

Although a very talented artist from his youth, Picasso was a mediocre student when it came to conventional school. He was known to have low grades and a frequent attendee of detention. Despite his lack of skills at school, Picasso was, by all means, a prodigy, having started a serious career from a very young age.

9. Picasso was suspected of stealing the Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa stolen from the Louvre
An empty spot where the Mona Lisa hung in the Louvre Museum after it had been stolen, 1911.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When Picasso was 21 years old, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci was stolen from the Louvre Museum. His best friend at the time, Guillaume Apollinaire, was the main suspect for the robbery. As a result of their close ties, Picasso also became a suspect. Eventually, both men would be exonerated and the case would be solved 2 years later, having found that a man by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia was behind the robbery.

10. Picasso’s death brought many misfortunes.

Picasso’s death came on the 8th of April, 1973, due to pulmonary edema and heart failure. At the moment of his death, Picasso was the richest artist in history, but one who did not have a will. As a result, his paintings were given to French authorities in the form of his estate tax. The whole ordeal made Jaqueline Roque refuse Picasso’s grandson’s attendance at his funeral, which caused him such an impact that it led him to drink a bottle of bleach. Jacqueline, Picasso’s wife, never managed to recover from the death of her husband, eventually killing herself by gunshot 13 years later.

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