Pablo Picasso


1881, Malaga, Spain
1973, Mougins, France


Arguably the most influential figure in the development of modern art, Pablo Picasso was the son of an obscure academic painter. The Ruiz family (Picasso used his mother’s surname) moved frequently, and the young Pablo had only sporadic formal training. In 1904, he settled in Paris and established a circle of painters, poets, and bohemians. His early Blue and Rose Periods are distinguished by their color palettes and by their subjects (the melancholy poor and circus performers, respectively).

In 1906 and 1907, he undertook an analytical style that developed into Cubism. Picasso and his friend Georges Braque reduced their figurative scenes (primarily café scenes and still lifes) to a network of geometric marks — and thereby interrogated the grammar of pictorial representation. Picasso pulled back from total abstraction, however, and in the 1920s and 1930s experimented with a more classical style, as well as the distorted, dreamlike forms and mythological subjects of Surrealism.

Throughout his career, he depicted his various wives and mistresses in aggressively fragmented portraits. In later life, he reworked the masterpieces of French and Spanish art history in his own style. He continued to work prolifically (in drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and ceramics as well as painting) until his death at age 91.

Conservator Will Shank reveals the mystery behind Picasso's hidden painting.

Works in the Collection

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at copyright@sfmoma.org.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.