Pablo Picasso

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The path to youth takes a whole life.
Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.
I do not search, I find.

Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 18818 April 1973) was a Spanish artist who lived and worked in Paris for many years. Together with Georges Braque he initiated around 1906–1908 Cubism, based on a strong inspiration of Paul Cézanne's work.

Quotes[edit]

  • What a sad fate for a painter who loves blondes, but who refrains from putting them in his picture because they don’t go with the basket of fruit! What misery for a painter who hates apples to be obliged to use them all the time because they go with the cloth! I put everything I love in my pictures. So much the worse for the things, they have only to arrange themselves with one another.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 256 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • Formerly pictures used to move towards completion in progressive stages. Each day would bring something new. A picture was a sum of additions. With me, picture is a sum of destructions. I do a picture, then I destroy it. But in the long run nothing is lost; the red that I took away from one place turns up somewhere else.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 256 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • It would be very curious to record by means of photographs, not the stage of the picture, but its metamorphoses. Perhaps one would perceive the path taken by the mind in order to put its dreams into a concrete form. But what is really very curious is to observe that fundamentally the picture does not change, that despite appearances the initial vision remains almost intact.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 256 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • I would like to manage to prevent people from ever seeing how a picture of mine has been done. What can it possibly matter? What I want is that the only thing emanating from my pictures should be emotion.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 256 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • Abstract art is only painting. And what’s so dramatic about that? There is no abstract art. One must always begin with something. Afterwards one can remove all semblance of reality; there is no longer any danger as the idea of the object has left an indelible imprint. It is the object which aroused the artist, stimulated his ideas and set of his emotions. These ideas and emotions will be imprisoned in his work for good... Whether he wants it or not, man is the instrument of nature; she imposes on him character and appearance. In my paintings of Dinard, as in my paintings of Purville, I have given expression to more or less the same vision... You cannot go against nature. She is stronger than the strongest of men. We can permit ourselves some liberties, but in details only.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 256-257 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • Neither is there figurative and non-figurative art. All things appear to us in the shape of forms. Even in metaphysics ideas are expressed by forms, well then think how absurd it would be to think of painting without the imagery of forms. A figure, an object, a circle, are forms; they affect us more or less intensely.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 257-258 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • Do you think it interests me that this painting represents two figures? These two figures existed, they exist no more. The sight of them gave me an initial emotion, little by little their real presence grew indistinct they became a fiction for me, then they disappeared, or rather, were turned into problems of all kinds. For me they are no longer two figures but shapes and colours, don’t misunderstand me, shapes and colours, though, that sum up the idea of the two figures and preserve the vibration of their existence.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 258 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • When we did Cubist paintings, our intention was not to produce Cubist paintings but to express what was within us. No one laid down a course of action for us, and our friends the poets followed our endeavour attentively but they never dictated it to us.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 258 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • The academic teaching on beauty is false. We have been misled, but so completely misled that we can no longer find so much as a shadow of a truth again. The beauties of the Parthenon, the Venuses, the Nymphs, the Narcisusses, are so many lies. Art is not the application of a canon of beauty, but what the instinct and the brain can conceive independently of that canon... To tell the truth the Parthenon is only a truss on which a roof has been placed.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 258-259 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • It is not what the artist does that counts. But what he is. Cézanne would never have interested me if he had lived and thought like Jacques-Émile Blanche, even if the apple he had painted had been ten times more beautiful. What interests us is the anxiety of Cézanne, the teaching of Cézanne, the anguish of Van Gogh, in short the inner drama of the man. The rest is false.
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 259 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • Everyone wants to understand painting. Why don’t they try to understand the song of the birds? Why do they love a night, a flower, everything which surrounds man, without attempting to understand them? Whereas where painting is concerned, they want to understand. Let them understand above all that the artist works from necessity; that he, too, is a minute element of the world to whom one should ascribe no more importance than so many things in nature which charm us but which we do not explain to ourselves. Those who attempt to explain a picture are on the wrong track most of the time. Gertrude Stein, overjoyed, told me some time ago that she had finally understood what my picture represented: three musicians. It was a still-life!
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, pp. 259-260 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • How can you expect a beholder to experience my picture as I experienced it? A picture comes to me a long time beforehand; who knows how long a time beforehand, I sensed, saw, and painted it and yet the next day even I do not understand what I have done. How can anyone penetrate my dreams, my instincts, my desires, my thought, which have taken a long time to fashion themselves and come to the surface, above all to grasp what I put there, perhaps involuntary?
    • Boisgeloup, winter 1934, quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 260 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive weapon in the defense against the enemy.
    • La peinture n’est pas faite pour décorer des appartements. C’est un instrument de guerre offensive et défensive contre l’ennemi.
    • La pintura no se ha inventado para adornar las habitaciones. La pintura es un arma ofensiva, en la defensa contra el enemigo.
    • Les lettres françaises (1943-03-24)


  • Accidents, try to change them - it's impossible. The accidental reveals man.
    • Vogue, 1 November 1956


  • The artist is a receptacle for emotions derived from anywhere: from the sky, from the earth, from a piece of paper, from a passing figure, from a spider’s web. This is ’s web. This is why one must not make a distinction between things. For them there are no aristocratic quarterings. One must take things where one finds them.
    • Quoted in Letters of the great artists – from Blake to Pollock -, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 258 (translation Daphne Woodward)


  • [Speaking of computers] But they are useless. They can only give you answers.
    • As discussed in this entry from Quote Investigator, the origin seems to be the article "Pablo Picasso: A Composite Interview" by William Fifield which appeard in The Paris Review 32, Summer-Fall 1964, and collected a number of interviews Fifield had done with Picasso.
    • Common later variant: "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." This variant seems to have arisen in the 1980s, the earliest known appearance in a book is Herman Feshbach, "Reflections on the Microprocessor Revolution: A Physicist's Viewpoint", in Man and Technology (1983), ed. Bruce M. Adkins, where the attribution is described as "rumoured".[1]


  • It means nothing to me. I have no opinion about it, and I don't care.
    • On the first moon landing, quoted in The New York Times, (1969-07-21)


  • For a long time I limited myself to one colour — as a form of discipline.
    • On his "blue" and "rose" periods, quoted in Picasso on Art (1988), ed. Dore Ashton


  • People who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.
    • Quoted in Picasso on Art (1988), ed. Dore Ashton


  • Painting isn't an aesthetic operation; it's a form of magic designed as mediator between this strange hostile world and us.
    • Quoted in Mario Livio, The Golden Ratio (2002), p. 159


  • I do not seek, I find.
    • Quoted in Graham Sutherland, "A Trend in English Draughtsmanship", Signature, III (1936), pp. 7-13.


Misattributed[edit]

  • I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
    • Attributed in Civilization's Quotations : Life's Ideal (2002) by Richard Alan Krieger, p. 132, and many places on the internet, this was actually stated by Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to Anthon van Rappard (August 1885), also rendered "I am always doing what I can't do yet in order to learn how to do it."

Quotes about Picasso[edit]

  • A friend built a modern house and he suggested that Picasso too should have one built. But, said Picasso, of course not, I want an old house. Imagine, he said, if Michelangelo would have been pleased if someone had given him a fine piece of Renaissance furniture, not at all.
    • Gertrude Stein, Picasso (1938) [Dover, 1984, ISBN 0-486-24715-5], p. 31
    • Note: Stein used the spelling "Michael Angelo" rather than "Michelangelo." The quotation preserves this spelling.
  • Picasso' great fresco is a monument to destruction, a cry of outrage and horror amplifed by the spirit of genius.
    • Herbert Read, "Guernica", in A Coat of Many Colours, Routledge, 1945.
  • Picasso es pintor, yo también; Picasso es español, yo también; Picasso es comunista, yo tampoco.
    • Picasso is a painter, so am I; Picasso is Spanish, so am I; Picasso is a communist, neither am I.
    • Salvador Dalí (attributed)

External links[edit]

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Museums[edit]