The 10 Most Famous Pablo Picasso Paintings (Masterpieces)
Pablo Picasso is arguably among the most famous and influential painters of all time. Picasso did many other things besides painting i.e., he was also a sculptor, ceramicist, printmaker, and theatre designer. However, he is most famous for his work as a painter.
Picasso's work is usually categorized into periods, namely the blue period, the rose period, the African-influenced period, and cubism (crystal period). Below are the best/most famous Pablo Picasso paintings.
1. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is a massive oil painting of five revealingly posed prostitutes. Figures and forms in this work are characterized by their disjointedness and sharp angles. The women's facial characteristics also show clear signs of Egyptian influence.
The masks of the two women on the right are reminiscent of those found in Africa, while those of the two women on the left are in Picasso's signature Iberian style.
In light of its complex geometry and several viewpoints, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is often categorized as a proto-cubist work of art.
2. The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso
Picasso painted The Old Guitarist sometime between 1903 and 1904. Picasso's Blue Period, in which he painted almost exclusively in blue and blue-green, includes this masterpiece.
Hunched over his instrument, the frail old man in the artwork has a haggard face and looks very hungry. The poverty, illness, and death that surrounded Picasso during this time are reflected in The Old Guitarist's gloomy blue tones, elongated form, and gloomy subject matter.
In addition to its creative composition and manner, The Old Guitarist is famous for its bleak subject matter. Foreshadowing his later, more abstract approach, Picasso uses extended forms, skewed perspectives, and reduced shapes. It is now part of the Art Institute of Chicago's permanent collection.
3. Ma Jolie by Pablo Picasso
Picasso's Ma Jolie was painted between 1911 and 1912. At the time, Picasso and Georges Braque were developing the Cubist style, and this is widely regarded as one of his most significant works from that time.
Analytic Cubism, of which Ma Jolie is a representative example, deconstructs objects into their component geometric shapes and simultaneously depicts them from a variety of perspectives.
Picasso's Ma Jolie is a complex, multi-layered composition that employs both abstract and identifiable elements. The guitar, some letters, and some shards of human figures are only a few of the many overlapping shapes in this painting. Picasso's Ma Jolie, with its bold color palette and whimsical shapes, exemplifies the avant-garde spirit of Cubism and early 20th-century art in general.
Many people have different ideas about how to interpret Ma Jolie, yet everyone agrees that it is a masterwork of Cubist painting. Presently, it can be found in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
4. Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso
The artwork Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso was completed in 1921. It is one of his most famous pieces from the time of Synthetic Cubism when he used more realistic shapes and colors.
Picasso's "Three Musicians" captures the spirit of a joyous celebration through the use of bold, contrasting colors and simplistic shapes. There are three unique human figures seen in the work. Two of the individuals are playing instruments, and the third is singing.
The close proximity of the figures conveys a message of friendship and happiness. The flat, graphic nature of the painting comes from the use of bold, flat blocks of color, while the use of broken patterns and overlapping shapes conveys motion and energy.
Picasso's "Three Musicians" is largely regarded as one of his most accomplished works from the Synthetic Cubist period, and is hailed for its vivid color, energetic composition, and joyful mood. Presently, it can be found in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
5. Nude, Green Leaves & Bust by Pablo Picasso
Picasso painted several portraits of his mistress and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter beginning in 1932, including one titled "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust." The height of the colorful blue and lilac canvas is almost 5 feet (1.5 m).
Picasso sold the work to his friend, the renowned French-Jewish art dealer Paul Rosenberg, with whom he had an exclusive arrangement at the time.
Sidney and Frances Brody, Los Angeles art collectors, owned the artwork for nearly six decades. It fetched US$106.5 million at auction, ranking as the third-highest price ever paid for a work of art at public sale.
6. The Dream by Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso's "The Dream" is a painting from the year 1932. It's one of his most famous pieces from his Surrealist era, when he was drawing inspiration from the unconscious.
Picasso created a strange, dreamy environment in "The Dream" by distorting and fragmenting forms and using vivid, contrasting colors. The subject of the picture is a naked woman whose body has been broken up into a number of interlocking shapes.
Her face and arms are greatly simplified while her legs and arms are lengthened. A kaleidoscope of abstract patterns and shapes create a surreal backdrop. While the overall composition is flat and abstract, the mix of vivid colors and shattered patterns lends it a feeling of unpredictability and uncertainty.
Picasso's "The Dream" is largely regarded as one of his most accomplished works from the Surrealist era and is lauded for its striking use of color and form as well as its investigation of the human body and the subconscious.
7. Girl Before a Mirror by Pablo Picasso
Picasso created this masterpiece in 1932, a pivotal year in his artistic career. Picasso had already reached the age of 51 by this time in his life, and his status as a major artist was well-established.
Picasso's mistress and creative inspiration, Marie-Thérèse Walter, is pictured here gazing at her own reflection in a mirror. The woman's face has been cut in half and painted in contrasting colors: one side is serene and pastel lilac, while the other is harsh and primary yellow.
In the reflection, our protagonist appears older and her face is sunken, perhaps as a metaphor of her own mortality. The image is rounded off with a vibrant diamond pattern in the background, evoking the harlequin that Picasso frequently used as a symbol. The painting is currently part of the permanent collection at New York's Museum of Modern Art.
8. Guernica by Pablo Picasso
Finished in 1937, "Guernica" is one of Pablo Picasso's most famous paintings. It is widely regarded as one of the best anti-war paintings of the 20th century and is often listed among his most renowned and important works.
When the Basque village of Guernica was bombed by German and Italian planes during the Spanish Civil War, Picasso felt compelled to make this work as a reaction. Picasso painted it in a Cubist style, with its emphasis on shattered forms and jarring color contrasts suggesting violence and anarchy.
Animals and humans alike are shown in the painting with extreme emotion and exaggeration. There is a bull, a horse, and wailing women and children. The political message and daring, experimental use of color and form in "Guernica" have earned it widespread acclaim.
As a strong representation of the horrors of war and the terrible impact of violence on innocent populations, this painting is often cited as one of the best anti-war works of the 20th century. The painting can be seen in the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, Spain.
9. The Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso
Picasso's "The Weeping Woman" is an evocative depiction of loss and mourning due to the use of skewed, disjointed forms and bright, clashing colors.
The face of the woman who is shown to be crying is deformed and contorted, her features accentuated, and her eyes downcast. While the overall composition is flat and abstract, the mix of vivid colors and shattered patterns lends it a feeling of unpredictability and uncertainty.
Famous for its profound emotional impact and its examination of the human condition in times of conflict and sorrow, "The Weeping Woman" has won numerous awards.
It's still one of the 20th century's most iconic artworks, and it's generally agreed that it's one of Picasso's finest works.
10. Dora Maar au Chat by Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso painted "Dora Maar au Chat" in 1941. The subject is Dora Maar, a French photographer and artist who was Picasso's mistress and creative inspiration in the decade between the late 1930s and the early 1940s.
Picasso's "Dora Maar au Chat" is an impressive portrait of the artist's lover, who he depicts using a mixture of abstract and representational styles.
While her torso is drawn in a more realistic style, her face is shattered into a jumble of overlapping shapes. The painting's contrast and humor are achieved in part by her exaggerated features.
While ranking art is subject to factors like individual tastes and preferences, the above paintings stand out the most in terms of impact on art and history. The works of Pablo Picasso, continue to enthrall viewers all over the world.
Picasso's paintings are renowned for their emotional impact and original use of shape and color, from the dramatic political statement of "Guernica" to the bold and innovative use of color and form in "Dora Maar au Chat."
Picasso's works continue to enthrall and inspire people all over the world because of their bold and honest explorations of the human condition in times of conflict and suffering.
Even now, his paintings and sculptures are widely regarded as some of the most influential and iconic works of the 20th century.