Born in Málaga, Spain, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is widely viewed as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century; he is famed for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of assemblage sculpture and collage and for the extensive variety of styles that he helped to cultivate and explore. While his importance as a painter inevitably adds to his prominence as a printmaker, his graphic oeuvre alone would ensure his significance in the history of modern and contemporary art.
Picasso initially focused on intaglio processes of printing, such as etching and drypoint, and later experimented with lithographs and linocuts. The commission to illustrate the cover of the magazine Minotaure planted the seed for the creation of one of the most important prints in Picasso’s oeuvre, Minotauromachie, a 1935 etching that provided much of the imagery used in renowned painting Guernica (1937), a mural-sized painting depicting carnage made up of jagged shapes and contrasting grayscale. Arguably his most overtly political work, Picasso executed Guernica in response to the ongoing Spanish Civil War. Indeed, the classical theme of the minotaur became a leitmotif throughout all of his artwork for example in the well-known Vollard Suite from the 1930’s. As in his paintings, Picasso addressed politics in his prints, harshly critiquing the repressive Franco dictatorship in The Dream (1932) and Lie of Franco (1937). While much of Picasso’s artwork in general bordered on abstraction through cubism, his prints remain mainly figural and imbued with allegorical references.
In November 1945 the French master lithographer Fernand Mourlot (1896-1988) approached Picasso about the possibility of reproducing some of his paintings via lithograph. He agreed and under the expert guidance of Mourlot, took up color lithography with great enthusiasm, producing 180 by April 1949 alone and going on to make many more Picasso achieved highly innovative and original results by altering techniques to suite his creative needs, leading to his immense popularity as an illustrator.
The artist was prolific up until his death on April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France. Today, his works are held in some of the most important private and public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery, London; The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, as well as institutions devoted solely to his life work, such as the Museo Picasso Málaga, the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, and the Musée National Picasso in Paris.