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Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. When he died in 1973, he was ninety-one years old. But he still took up his paints and brushes to start a new picture as if he were seeing things for the first time.
That's why we have called him the youngest painter. Yong people are always trying new things and new ways of doing things. They don't hesitate to attempt one thing after another. Eager to experiment, they welcome new ideas. They are restless and alive and never satisfied. They seek perfection1.
When he was over ninety this great painter still lived his life like a young man. He was still restlessly looking for new ideas and for new ways to use his artistic materials. No one knew what to expect from him next. No one could be sure what kind of picture he would produce. If he had painted a picture of you it might have looked exactly like you. Or it might have been all lines, squares, circles and strange-colored shapes. It might not have looked human at all.
At such times Picasso was trying to paint what he saw with his mind as well as with his eyes. He put in the side of the face as well as the front. He may have painted it flat, as though it had no depth. Sometimes he seemed to paint just as a child paints, simply for his own pleasure. He didn't imitate2 others. “If the subjects I have wanted to express have suggested different ways of expression, I have never hesitated to use them,” he said.
Most painters discover a style of painting that suits them and stick to3 that, especially if people admire their pictures. As the artist grows older his pictures may change, but not very much. But Picasso was like a man who had not yet found his own particular style of painting. He was still struggling to find perfect expression for his own uneasy4 spirit.
The first thing one noticed about him was the look of his large, wide-open eyes. Gertrude Stein, a famous American writer who knew him in his youth, mentioned this hungry look, and one can still see it in pictures of him today.
Picasso painted a picture of Gertrude Stein in 1906. She visited the painter's studio5 eighty or ninety times while he painted her picture. While Picasso painted they talked about everything in the world that interested them. Then one day Picasso wiped out the painted head on which he had worked6 for so long. “When I look at you I can't see you any more!”he said.
Picasso went away for the summer. When he returned he went at once to the unfinished picture in the corner of his studio. Quickly he finished the face from memory. He could see the woman's face more clearly in his mind than he could see it when she sat in the studio in front of him.
When people complained to him that the painting of Miss Stein didn't look like her, Picasso would reply, “Too bad. She'll have to arrange to look like the picture.” But thirty years later Gertrude Stein said that Picasso's painting of her was the only picture she knew that showed her as she really was.
If ever anyone was born to be a painter, Picasso was. His father was a painter and art teacher who gave his son his first lessons in drawing. Picasso won a prize for his first important painting, “Science and Charity”, when he was only fifteen. He studied art in several cities in Spain. But there was no one to teach him all he wanted to know. When he was nineteen he visited Paris.
Paris was then the centre of the world for artists. Everything that was new and exciting in the world of painting seemed to happen there. When he was twenty-three Picasso returned there to live and lived in France for the rest of his life.
He was already a fine painter. He painted scenes of town life— people in the streets and in restaurants, at horse races, bull fights and circuses7. They were painted in bright colours, lovely to look at.
But life was not easy for an unknown painter. The struggle began to show in a new choice of subjects. For several years he painted people from the poorer parts of the city. He painted men and women who were thin, hungry, tired, sick and blind. His colours got darker. Most of these pictures were painted in shades of blue and showed very clearly what the artist saw and felt. The paintings of this “blue period” are full of pity and despair8.
Picasso did not have to wait long for success. As he began to sell his pictures and to become recognized as a painter his pictures took on a warmer look. At the same time he began to paint with more and more freedom and independence. He began to see people and places in simple forms and shapes. He no longer tried to make his pictures true-to-life.
The results at first seemed strange and unreal. The pictures were difficult to understand. He painted human heads, scenes from nature, or ordinary objects all in the same way: as if their shapes were the one important thing about them. This style of painting, which spread to many other artists, was known as Cubism9.
Picasso was often attacked for this new, sometimes frightening style. It produced pictures like some of our worst dreams. The camera has made it unnecessary for painters to make exact representations of what they see. A camera can reflect real life more exactly. What great paintings give us is a view of life through one man's eyes, and every man's view is different.
Some of Picasso's paintings are rich, soft-coloured and beautiful. Others are ugly and cruel and strange with sharp, black outlines10. But such paintings can make our own view of the world sharper. For they force us to say to ourselves, “What does he see that makes him paint like that?” And we begin to look beneath the surface of the things we see.
Picasso painted thousands of pictures in many different styles. Sometimes he painted the natural look of things. Sometimes he seemed to break them apart. He demanded the right to show us what the mind knows as well as what the eye sees. He himself remained as curious about the world as he had been when he was young.
他已然是个不错的画家了。他描绘姿态各异的市井人生 —— 街上行人、饭店食客、赛马的赌民、斗牛场和马戏场的观众。画面色彩亮丽，赏心悦目。
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