What Impact Did Picasso Have on Modern Art?


A multitude of descriptives have been applied to Pablo Picasso: innovator, chaotic, fascinating, lawless. Born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain, Pablo Picasso is recognized for his unsurpassed impact on modern art. Picasso is considered a brilliant artistic genius by many. He is known for an unconventional, maverick approach to art and to life. A Time Magazine article on Pablo Picasso noted that his "works provide the viewer with a journey through 50 years that changed art more radically than it changed in the 500 years before."

Picasso's Accomplishments

  • Picasso experienced unprecedented exposure due to his massive creative output including more than 20,000 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and photographs. He led the way in the twentieth century's most important movement, cubism, and invented collage. His accomplishments paved the foundation of modernism.

Cubism and Abstract Expressionism

  • Soon after the invention of cubism, cutting-edge Modernists like Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove and Stuart Davis applied Picasso's geometric structures to landscapes, signatures and ads. Emerging after this was the first truly influential school of American painting, abstract expressionism. Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, John Graham and Jackson Pollock used angular spatial framework as a beginning for their sweeping gestures and splatter art.

The Pop Generation

  • The New York School gave way to the pop generation of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns. These artists enjoyed infusing Picasso's ideas with their individual unique style. Johns took it to a penetrating level by reflecting Picasso's versatility in materials, subject matter and thought.

Decline and Resurgance of Influence

  • Picasso has many proteges and even more followers that span the decades. With the rise in popularity of his followers and the development of new media, at times Picasso may appear passe. As a young curator of Boston's Nielson Gallery puts it, "We're the Warhol generation, not the Picasso generation," while Richard Ryan, a professor of painting observes, "You don't hear Picasso's name mentioned as much as you used to." However, he added that when space, color, and form come up, Picasso is there.

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  • Photo Credit Garçon au chien. Poste du Laos. Picasso.1989. image by Blue Moon from Fotolia.com
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