Pablo Picasso

Spanish painter and sculptor (1881–1973)
(Redirected from Picasso)

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

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 affects us more or less intensely.

Quotes edit

drawing by Ramon Casas: Pablo Picasso in Spain, c. 1900
portrait of Pablo Picasso, painted by Modigliani in 1915
photo of Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso and Andre Salmon in Montparnasse, Paris in 1916
Picasso, 1909: 'Head of a Woman (Fernande)', sculpture
photo of Picasso, sitting in front of his painting 'The Aficionado', in Summer of 1912
Picasso, 1937: 'Mural after his painting Guernica, he made in 1937; - quote of Picasso, 1937: '..this bull is a bull and this horse is a horse.. .I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are'

Picasso, 1954 - 1970: 'Sylvette', sculpture in Rotterdam; - later quote of his model 'Sylvette' in 1954: 'I was terrified he'd ask me to pose in the nude but he was very sensitive to this. He saw I didn't like myself and wanted to know why.. [she did not tell Picasso] That's why he painted me like that.. ..I didn't speak much
Picasso, 1965: 'Figure découpée', sculpture in Vondelpark, Amsterdam
Picasso, c. 1960s: Marble bull's head, relief in marble
Picasso, 1965-67: 'Chicago Picasso', metal sculpture; - Quote of Picasso, 1943: 'Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy'

1920s edit

  • Among the several sins that I have been accused of committing, none is more false than the one that I have, as the principal objective in my work, the spirit of research. When I paint my object is to show what I have found and not what I am looking for. In art intentions are not sufficient and, as we say in Spanish, love must be proved by facts and not by reasons... [Paris 1923].
    • As quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 311
  • When I hear people speak of the evolution of an artist, it seems to me that they are considering him standing between two mirrors that face each other and reproduce his image an infinite number of times, and that they contemplate the successive images of one mirror as his past, and the images of the other mirror as his future, while his real image is taken as his present. They do not consider that they all are the same images in different planes... [Paris 1923].
    • As quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 311
  • They speak of naturalism in opposition to modern painting. I would like to know if anyone has ever seen a natural work of art. Nature and art, being two different things, cannot be the same thing. Through art we express our conception of what nature is not. Velasquez left us his idea of the people of his epoch. Undoubtedly they were different from what he painted them, but we cannot conceive a Philip IV in any other way than the one Velasquez painted... [Paris 1923].
    • As quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 312

"Picasso Speaks" (1923) edit

"Picasso Speaks" in The Arts, vol. 3, ed. Marius de Zayas, New York, May 1923. pp. 315-329; Reprinted in Alfred Barr: Picasso, New York 1946, pp. 270–1
  • I can hardly understand the importance given to the word research in connection with modern painting. In my opinion to search means nothing in painting. To find is the thing. Nobody is interested in following a man who, with his eyes fixed on the ground, spends his life looking for the purse that fortune should put in his path. The one who finds something no matter what it might be, even if his intention were not to search for it, at least arouses our curiosity, if not our admiration.
    • p. 315
  • We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. If he only shows in his work that he has searched, and re-searched, for the way to put over lies, he would never accomplish anything.
    • p. 315.
  • Cubism is no different from any other school of painting. The same principles and the same elements are common to all. The fact that for a long time cubism has not been understood and that even today there are people who cannot see anything in it, means nothing. I do not read English, and an English book is a blank to me. This does not mean that the English language does not exist, and why should I blame anyone but myself if I cannot understand what I know nothing about?
    • p. 319.
  • Variation does not mean evolution. If an artist varies his mode of expression this only means that he has changed his manner of thinking, and in changing, it might be for the better or it might be for the worse.
    • p. 391.
  • Many think that Cubism is an art of transition, an experiment which is to bring ulterior results. Those who think that way have not understood it. Cubism is not either a seed or a foetus, but an art dealing primarily with forms, and when a form is realized it is there to live its own life. A mineral substance, having geometric formation, is not made so for transitory purposes, it is to remain what it is and will always have its own form.
    • p. 323.

'The Arts', New York, May 1923 edit

As quoted by Marius de Zayas, in 'The Arts', New York, May 1923

  • Mathematics, trigonometry, chemistry, psychoanalysis, music, and what not have been related to cubism to give it an easier interpretation. All this has been pure literature, not to say nonsense, which brought bad results, blinding people with theories. Cubism has kept itself within the limits and limitations of painting, never pretending to go beyond it.
  • The idea of research has often made painting go astray, and made the artist lose himself in mental lucubrations. Perhaps this has been the principal fault of modern art. The spirit of research has poisoned those who have not fully understood all the positive and conclusive elements in modern art and has made them attempt to paint the invisible and, therefore, the unpaintable.
  • And from the point of view of art there are no concrete or abstract forms, but only forms which are more or less convincing lies. That those lies are necessary to our mental selves is beyond any doubt, as it is through them that we form our aesthetic point of view of life. (Paris 1923)
  • I also often hear the word 'evolution'. Repeatedly I am asked to explain how my painting evolved. To me there is no past or future in my art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was. Art does not evolve by itself, the ideas of people change and with them their mode of expression. (Paris 1923)
  • I do not believe I have used radically different elements in the different manners I have used in my paintings. If the subjects I have wanted to express have suggested different ways of expression, I have never hesitated to adopt them. I have never made trials nor experiments. Whenever I had something to say I have said it in the manner in which I have felt it ought to be said. Different motives inevitably require different methods of expression. (Paris 1923)

1930s edit

  • The smell of opium is the least stupid smell in the world.
    • Quote, attributed to Picasso in: Jean Cocteau (1932), Opium: The Diary of an Addict. p. 63
  • When I went to Trocadéro it was disgusting. ...The smell. I was all alone. I wanted to get away. But... I stayed. ...I understood something very important... was happening to me... The masks... were magical things. ...The Negroes' sculptures were intercessors... Against everything; against unknown threatening spirits. I kept looking at the fetishes. I understood: I too am against everything. I too think everything is unknown, is the enemy! Everything! ...I understood ...the purpose ...all the fetishes were ...weapons. To help people stop being dominated by spirits, to become independent. Tools. If we give form to the spirits, we become independent of them. The spirits, the unconscious... emotion, it's the same thing. I understood why I was a painter. All alone in that awful museum, with the masks, the redskin dolls, the dusty mannequins. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon must have come to me that day, but not at all because of the forms: but because it was my first canvas of exorcism—yes, absolutely!
    • Interview with André Malraux (1937) describing a 1907 experience in the Palais du Trocadéro ethnographic museum, as quoted by Jean-Louis Paudrat, "From Africa", Primitivism and 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern (1984) ed., William Ruben, Vol. 1, p. 141; and "Discovery of African Art 1906-7", Primitivism and Twentieth-Century Art: A Documentary History (2003) ed. Jack Flam, Miriam Deutch, p.34; and in Matisse and Picasso: The Story of Their Rivalry and Their Friendship (2003) by Jack Flam, p. 34.
  • It isn't up to the painter to define the symbols. Otherwise it would be better if he wrote them out in so many words! The public who look at the picture must interpret the symbols as they understand them.
    • Picasso (1937), quote in: William Rowlandson (2007), Reading Lezama's Paradiso. p. 115.
    • Reply by Picasso when he was asked to explain the symbolism in the Guernica.
  • ...this bull is a bull and this horse is a horse... If you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my idea to give this meaning. What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are.
    • Paul Jones (2011), The Sociology of Architecture: Constructing Identities. p. 47.
    • Other explanation by Picasso of the Guernica.
  • But there is one very odd thing - to notice that basically a picture doesn't change, that the first 'vision' remains almost intact, in spite of appearances. I often ponder on a light and a dark when I have put them into a painting; I try hard to break them up by interpolating a color that will create a different effect. When the work is photographed, I note that what I put in to correct my first vision has disappeared, and that, after all, the photographic image corresponds with my first vision before the transformation I insisted on. [Boisgeloup, winter 1934]
    • Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 313

"Conversations avec Picasso," 1934–35 edit

Interview with Christian Zervos in: "Conversation avec Picasso," in Cahiers d'Art, Vol X, 7-10, (1935), p. 173-178. Translated in: Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art. 1946, and republished in: Herschel Browning Chip (1968), Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics. (1968), p. 266-273; also quoted in: Richard Friedenthal, Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock -, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963. (transl. Daphne Woodward).
  • It is my misfortune - and probably my delight - to use things as my passions tell me. What a miserable fate for a painter who adores blondes to have to stop himself putting them into a picture because they don't go with the basket of fruit!
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 267).
    • (another and longer version:) 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 paintings. So much the worse for the things, they have only to arrange themselves with one another
      • Richard Friendenthal (1963, p. 256).
  • In the old days pictures went forward toward completion by stages. Every day brought something new. A picture used to be a sum of additions. In my case a picture is a sum of destructions. I do a picture — then I destroy it. In the end though, nothing is lost: the red I took away from one place turns up somewhere else
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 267)
    • Other translation:
      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.
      • Richard Friedenthal (1968, p. 256); Also quoted in: John Bowker (1988), Is anybody out there?: religions and belief in God in the contemporary world. p. 57.
  • 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].
    • Richard Friendenthal (1963, p. 256).
  • 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).
    • Richard Friedenthal, (1963, p. 256).
  • Abstract art is only painting. What about drama?
    There is no abstract art. You always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 270).
    • Other translation:
      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.
      • Richard Friedenthal (1968, p. 256-7).
        • Longer version:
          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).
          • As quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 313
  • 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 affects us more or less intensely. [Boisgeloup, winter 1934].
    • Richard Friedenthal, (1963, pp. 257-258).
  • 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]
    • Richard Friedenthal, (1963, p. 258)
  • 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 Jaques-Emile 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].
    • Richard Friedenthal, (1963, p. 259)
  • 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.
    • Richard Friedenthal, (1963, p. 260).
  • I deal with painting as I deal with things, I paint a window just as I look out of a window. If an open window looks wrong in a picture, I draw the curtain and shut it, just as I would in my own room. In painting, as in life, you must act directly.
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 271).
  • Academic training in beauty is a sham. We have been deceived... The beauties of the Parthenon, Venuses, Nymphs, Narcissuses are so many lies. Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon.
    • Herschel Browning Chip (1968, p. 271), quoted in Chipp (1978, 266); As cited in: Constance Milbrath (1998), Patterns of Artistic Development in Children, p. 257.
  • When we did Cubist paintings [Picasso and Georges Braque, in their early Cubist period in Paris], 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 [a.o. Appolinaire and Cendral] followed our endeavor attentively but they never dictated it to us. [Boisgeloup, winter 1934].
    • Quote of Picasso in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008
  • 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].
    • As quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008
  • The painter goes through states of fullness and evacuation. That is the whole secret of art. I go for a walk in the forest of Fontainebleau. I get 'green' indigestion. I must get rid of this sensation into a picture. Green rules it. A painter paints to unload himself of feelings and visions. People seize on painting to cover up their nakedness. They get what they can wherever they can. In the end I don't believe they get anything at all. They've simply cut a coat to the measure of their own ignorance. They make everything, from God to a picture, in their own image. That is why the picture-hook is the ruination of a painting. [Boisgeloup, winter 1934].
    • As quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008
  • You don't need to show them to me [the notes of the complete interview which Christian Zervos], editor of 'Cahiers d'Art' showed Picasso after their conversations at Boisgeloup: Picasso's country place then]. The essential thing in our period of weak morale is to create enthusiasm. How many people have actually read Homer? All the same the whole world talks of him. In this way the Homeric legend is created. A legend in this sense provokes a valuable stimulus. Enthusiasm is what we need most, we and the younger generation. [Boisgeloup, 1935]
    • As quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008

1940s edit

Stanisław Lorentz guides Pablo Picasso through the National Museum in Warsaw. 1948
  • Almost every evening [in their common early-Cubist years, in Paris], either I went to Braque's studio or Braque came to mine. Each of us had to see what the other had done during the day. We criticized each other's paintings. A canvas wasn't less both of us fear p. 311
  • Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive weapon in the defence 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).
  • When I was a child my mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.
    • As quoted in Life with Picasso, by François Gilot, 1964, p. 60

1950s edit

  • When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is. I'm not crazy about those cocks and asses and flying violinists and all the folklore, but his canvasses are really painted, not just thrown together. Some of the last thing's he's done in Vence [where Matisse painted his late frescos in the chapel] convince me that there's never been anybody since Renoir who has the feeling for light that Chagall has. [Picasso is reacting to Chagall's daughter Ida, 1952]
    • Quote in a writing of Francoise Gilot; as quoted in Marc Chagall, – a Biography, by Sidney Alexander, Cassell, London, 1978, p. 440
  • Les gloires, les trompettes, les palmes... et les bas-reliefs,... tout cela fait un monument.
    • Translation: The glories, trumpets, palms... and low reliefs,... all that makes a monument.
    • Picasso (1952). Quoted in: Michael D. Garval (2004), "A Dream of Stone": Fame, Vision, and Monumentality in Nineteenth-century French Literary Culture. p. 226.
    • Picasso commented on the matter of the monument destruction in Paris.
  • When I don't have red, I use blue.
    • Pablo Picasso (1953); quoted in: Kilkenny (2004), Doomsday Marauders, p. 83.
  • When Matisse died, he left me his Odalisques 'as a legacy', he proclaimed.
    • after the death of Matisse (1954); as quoted in Matisse & Picasso, By Paul Trachtman, Smithsonian Magazine, February 2003, p. 7
  • On August 2, 1914, I took Braque and Derain to the Gare d'Avignon [drafted as a soldier for World war 1.] I never saw them again [not literally a fact, but the close relation between Picasso and Braque ended].
    • Quote in My Galleries and Painters, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, New York Viking Press, 1971, p. 46
    • Picasso in a talk c. 1955, with Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
  • Accidents, try to change them - it's impossible. The accidental reveals man.
    • Quote in Vogue, 1 November 1956.
  • There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence transform a yellow spot into a sun.
    • In: Sergei Eisenstein (1957), Film form [and]: The film sense, p. 127.
  • On met très longtemps à devenir jeune.
    • It takes a very long time to become young.
    • As quoted by Jean Cocteau The Hand of a Stranger (Journal d'un Inconnu). Horizon Press. 1959 [1953]. [1]

1960s edit

Picasso in Nice, France, 1961
  • Even the signature of Kodra is a work of art.
    • Repubblica, 2006[1]
    • La Provincia, 2006[2]
  • 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 a spider'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)
  • L'art n'est pas chaste [...], on devrait l’interdire aux ignorants innocents, ne jamais mettre en contact avec lui ceux qui y sont insuffisamment préparés. Oui, l'art est dangereux. Ou s'il est chaste, ce n'est pas de l'art.
    • Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.
    • Quote by Antonina Vallentin (1963 [1957]), Picasso, p. 168.
  • [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 appeared 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".[2]
  • It's like God's. God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.
    • Picasso quoted in 'TIME'; quoted in: The Atlantic, Vol. 214 (1964), p. 97.
    • Picasso commented on his ambiguous style, or use of multiple styles.
  • Matisse makes a drawing, then he makes a copy of it. He recopies it five times, ten times, always clarifying the line. He's convinced that the last, the most stripped down, is the best, the purest, the definitive one; and in fact, most of the time, it was the first. In drawing, nothing is better than the first attempt.
    • Quote (1964); as quoted in Picasso and Company (trans. 1966) by Gyula Brassaï
  • You have got to be able to picture side by side everything Matisse and I were doing at that time. No one has ever looked at Matisse's painting more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he.
    • Quote by old Picasso (1960's); as quoted in 'Matisse & Picasso', Paul Trachtman, Smithsonian Magazine, February 2003, p 1
  • When there's anything to steal, I steal
    • Quoted in: Thought. Vol. 17 (1965). p. 154.
    • The magazine further commented:
      Picasso's remark — "When there's anything to steal, I steal" — was fair warning to the competition. In modern art he has been, for years, the cock-of- the-walk, (The broody hens, one supposes, are also part of that picture.) But the book is valuable, primarily, for Picasso's observations about his own work and the work of others.
  • 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 me, there are two kinds of women — goddesses and doormats.
    • Quoted in: Briton Hadden, ‎Henry Robinson Luce (1969), Time, Vol. 93. p. 66.

1970s edit

Picasso and Lucien Clergue at Condor Films, 1973
  • I was thinking about Casagemas's death that started me painting in blue.
    • Original: C’est en passant que Casagemas était mort que je me suis mis à piendre en bleu
    • Quoted in Pierre Daix, La Vie de Peintre de Pablo Picasso, Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1977.
    • Picasso explained his friend Pierre Daix (around 1965), why he started painting in blue early around 1905. Picasso had made a portrait of Carles Casagemas in 1899.
  • To contradict. To show one eye full face and one in profile. Nature does many things the way I do, but she hides them! My painting is a series of non-sequiturs. ...
    • Quoted in: Pierre Cabanne (1977), Pablo Picasso: His Life and Times, p. 268.
  • Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.
    • Quoted in: The Artist, Vol. 93 (1978) p. 5.
  • Drink to me. Drink to my health. You know I can't drink any more.
    • Quoted in: Scott Slater, ‎Alec Solomita (1980), Exits: stories of dying moments & parting words. p. 8.
    • Slater & Solomita (1980) explained:
      "It was a spirited dinner and Picasso a cheerful, genial host. After the meal, while pouring wine into a friend's glass, Picasso said, Drink to me. Drink to my health. You know I can't drink any more. A little later, about 11:30 P.M., he left his guests, saying, And now I must go back to work. He was up painting until 3:00 A.M. That morning Picasso woke at 11:30, unable to move. By 11:40 he was dead..".

Attributed from posthumous publications edit

  • I don't know where he [ Marc Chagall ] gets those images; he must have an angel in his head.
    • As quoted in Marc Chagall, – a Biography, by Sidney Alexander, Cassell, London, 1978, p. 33
  • Nothing can be accomplished without solitude; I have made a kind of solitude for myself.
    • Quote in "Picasso", Hans L. C. Jaffe, Thames and Hudson Ltd
  • To find is the thing.
    • Quote in "Picasso", Hans L. C. Jaffe, Thames and Hudson Ltd
  • I do not see why so much importance should be attached to the idea of 'research' in painting.
    • Quote in "Picasso", Hans L. C. Jaffe, Thames and Hudson Ltd
  • I treat paintings as I treat objects. If a window in a picture looks wrong, I close it and draw the curtains, just as I would do in my own room.
    • Quote in "Picasso", Hans L. C. Jaffe, Thames and Hudson Ltd
  • For me, art has neither past nor future. All I have ever made was for the present.
    • Quote in "Picasso", Hans L. C. Jaffe, Thames and Hudson Ltd
  • For a long time I limited myself to one colour — as a form of discipline.
    • quoted in Picasso on Art (1988), ed. Dore Ashton
    • quote on Picasso's 'Blue' and 'Rose' periods
  • "You mustn't alway believe what I say", he once told me. "Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer."
  • I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. After all, what is a painter? He is a collector who gets what he likes in others by painting them himself. This is how I begin and then it becomes something else.
    • Quoted in: Ann Livermore (1988), Artists and Aesthetics in Spain. p. 154
  • People who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.
    • Quoted in Picasso on Art (1988), ed. Dore Ashton.
  • Their forms had no more influence on me than they did on Matisse. Or Derain. But for them, the masks were sculptures like all others. When Matisse showed me his first African head, he spoke to me of Egyptian art.
    • Andre Malraux cites Picasso in: Anatoliĭ Podoksik, ‎Marina Aleksandrovna Bessonova, ‎Pablo Picasso (1989), Picasso: The Artists Work in Soviet Museums. p. 13.
    • Picasso talking about his discovery of African art.
  • La inspiración existe, pero tiene que encontrarte trabajando.
    • Translation: Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
    • In: Tomás R. Villasante (1994), Las ciudades hablan: identidades y movimientos sociales en seis metrópolis latinoamericanas. p. 264.
  • People want to find a 'meaning' in everything and everyone. That's the disease of our age, an age that is anything but practical but believes itself to be more practical than any other age.
    • Quoted in: Ingo F. Walther (1996), Picasso, p. 67.
  • It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
    • Quoted in: Peter Erskine, ‎Rick Mattingly (1998), Drum Perspective, p. 73.
    • Alternative forms:
      • "At eight, I was Raphael", he used to say. "It took me a whole lifetime to paint like a child"
        • From Picasso, my grandfather, Marina Picasso (2001).

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 (18 August 1885)[3], also rendered "I keep on making what I can’t do yet in order to learn to be able to do it."
  • The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.

Disputed edit

  • Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
    • Quote attributed to Picasso in TIME, October 4, 1976, Modern Living: Ozmosis in Central Park [4] [5]
  • Yo no busco, yo encuentro.
    • I do not seek, I find.
    • Quoted in Graham Sutherland, "A Trend in English Draughtsmanship", Signature, III (1936), pp. 7-13.
  • If they took away all my paints, I'd use pastels, if they took away my pastels, I'd use crayons, if they took away my crayons, I'd use a pencil. If they put me in a cell, and stripped me of everything, I'd spit on my finger and draw on the wall.
    • The original quote attributed to Picasso in 1951 quotes him as saying that 'even if he were imprisoned, he would draw on the dust-covered prison walls and on the floor, with his fingers dripped in his own spit' (see above). This expansion appears to derive from an interview given by actor Dustin Hoffman to the L.A. Times in 2001.
  • "No. It took me sixty years to draw that."

Quotes about Picasso edit

  • we are not gladiators. But there is something we are committed to of fundamental importance, something everybody should be committed to. We are committed to the process of changing our position in the world. This is what our literature is about. There is a certain position assigned to me in the world, assigned to him (James Baldwin) in the world, and we are saying we are not satisfied with that position. This is important to me-to everybody. I think you see it is important to me. You may not see that it is important to you but it is. We want to create the new man. Mankind tries all kinds of ways, all kinds of solutions; some of them leading that far and no farther and it is wise that we try something else. We have followed your way and it seems there is a little problem at this point. And so we are offering a new aesthetic. There is nothing wrong with that...Picasso did that. In 1904 he saw that Western art had run out of breath so he went to the Congo-the dispised Congo-and brought out a new art. Don't mind what he was saying before he died: that much is entirely his business. But he borrowed something which saved his art. And we are telling you what we think will save your art. We think we are right, but even if we are wrong it doesn't matter. It couldn't be worse than it is now.
  • I don't try to be prophetic, as I don't sit down to write literature. It is simply this: a writer has to take all the risks of putting down what he sees. No one can tell him about that. No one can control that reality. It reminds me of something Pablo Picasso was supposed to have said to Gertrude Stein while he was painting her portrait. Gertrude said, "I don't look like that." And Picasso replied. "You will." And he was right.
    • Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
  • Well, I looked at Picasso (at the Picasso exhibition in New York, Museum of Modern Art in 1939) until I could smell his armpits and the cigarette smoke on his breast. Finally, in front of one picture – a bone figure on a beach – I got it. I saw that the figure was not his real subject. The plasticity wasn't either – although the plasticity was great. No. Picasso had uncovered a feverishness in himself and is painting it – a feverishness of death and beauty.
    • William Baziotes, his quote in Modern Art U.S.A., R. Blesh, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1956, pp. 268-69
  • At that time I was very friendly with Picasso. Our temperaments were very different, but we had the same idea. Later on it became clear, Picasso is Spanish and I am French; as everyone knows that mean a lot of differences, but during those days the differences did not count... .We were living in Montmarte, we used to meet every day, we used to talk... In those years Picasso and I said things to each other that nobody will ever say again, that nobody could say any more... .It was rather like a pair of climbers roped together.
    • Georges Braque (1954), referring to to the early starting years of Cubism in Paris with Picasso, ca. 1907 -1910; from an interview with Dora Vallier in 1954; as quoted in Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963), Richard Friedenthal, translation: Daphne Woodward, p. 264
  • When we were so friendly with Picasso, there was a time when we had difficulty in recognizing our own pictures. Later, when the revelation went deeper, differences appeared. Revelation is the one thing that cannot be taken from you. But before the revelation took place, there was still a marked intention of carrying painting in a direction that could re-establish the bond between Picasso and ourselves.
    • Georges Braque (1954), referring to early Cubism ca. 1907 -1910 in Paris; from an interview with Dora Vallier in 1954, as quoted in Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963), Richard Friedenthal, translation: Daphne Woodward, p. 265
  • If we had never met Picasso, would Cubism have been what it is? I think not. The meeting with Picasso was a circumstance in our lives.
    • Georges Braque (1954), in an interview with Dora Vallier; as quoted in Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963), Richard Friedenthal, translation: Daphne Woodward, p. 265
  • The hard-and-fast rules of perspective which it succeeded in imposing on art were a ghastly mistake which it has taken four centuries to redress; Cezanne and after him Picasso and myself can take a lot of credit for this.. ..scientific perspective forces the objects in a picture to disappear away form the beholder instead of bringing them within his reach as painting should.
    • Georges Braque (1957), his quote in 'The Observer', by John Richardson, 1 December 1957
  • I had this gorgeous hair and, like Coco Chanel, I used to tailor a man's shirt or jacket to fit me. I was like an iceberg. You couldn't get close to me. They didn't dare come near me, the men. That was why Picasso was intrigued [1954].. ..I was terrified he'd ask me to pose in the nude but he was very sensitive to this. He saw I didn't like myself and wanted to know why.' [she did not tell him.] That's why he painted me like that.. [The curators asked her, 'Why no mouth?:] 'Oh, I didn't speak much.'
  • 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).
  • Outside the Fauve circle, other artists in Paris were taking new and radical approaches to art as well during 1905 and 1906. New influences were circulating in the city. For example, Andre Derain acquired a Negro mask from his friend De Vlaminck. He presented it, with special excitement to Henri Matisse and to a younger artist, Pablo Picasso. In early 1906, Picasso began his studies leading to 'w:Les Demoiselles d' Avignon', the first exploration of the emerging Cubist idiom.
    • Gaston Diehl. The Fauves (The Library of great art movements), September, 1975, p. 32
  • People talk of Picasso as the leader of the Cubists but, strictly speaking, he is no longer a Cubist. Today he is a Cubist, tomorrow he will be something else. The only true Cubists are Gleizes and Metzinger.
    • Marcel Duchamp (1915), his quote from 'A complete reversal of opinions on art'; Marcel Duchamp, in 'Art and Decoration', New York, 1 September 1915
  • Picasso is taking Cézanne's elements - the cone, cylinder and sphere - into Cubism. Matisse is taking Cézanne's interest in the wholeness and the clarity of figures. They're taking almost opposite interpretations of what they see in Cézanne: Picasso is understanding it as decomposition, and Matisse is understanding it as composition.
    • John Elderfield, MoMA-curator and Matisse scholar; as quoted in 'Matisse & Picasso', Paul Trachtman, Smithsonian Magazine, February 2003, p. 4
  • Because of his extraordinary technical virtuosity, Picasso was able effectively and convincingly to employ conflicting styles at will... another instance of his uncommon sensitivity to the arbitrariness of different languages. ...[H]e was probably the first Western artist to insist willfully and persistently on the relative arbitrariness of the means of pictorial representation. Indeed, this... is one of the most original and radical aspects of his entire career. Artists of the previous generation, such as Cézanne and van Gogh, had employed systematic "distortions" in their works, but... as part of a... direct way of communicating the "truth" of his own personal vision. Picasso's contemporaries, including Matisse, followed in that tradition.
    • Jack Flam, Matisse and Picasso: The Story of Their Rivalry and Their Friendship (2003) p. 125.
  • [A]lthough the sculpture made by painters is traditionally regarded as a way of giving material presence to two-dimensional imagery, Picasso was much more concerned with dematerilization, and the possibility of creating "non-space," in both mediums. This issue was especially germane to Picasso's sculpture, and it is also a crucial element of his Painter and Model. ...Picasso ...aspired to a very different type of spatial construction, literally creating a visual "nothingness." Such ideas were no longer Cubist ...but rather were ways of creating signs not simply for things but also for paradoxes—for contradictions as well as for assertions, for states of suspension and nonbeing as well as for being.
    • Jack Flam, Matisse and Picasso: The Story of Their Rivalry and Their Friendship (2003) pp. 142-143.
  • Picasso said, “You can have all the perspectives at once!” What a hero. But tell me, are any of those perspectives a woman’s? Well, then I’m not interested.
    • Hannah Gadsby, quoted here
  • Picasso - never at a loss for words: 'What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has nothing but eyes if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre at every level of his heart if he is a poet...Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being, constantly aware of what goes on in the world, whether it be harrowing, bitter or sweet, and he cannot help being shaped by it... painting is not interior decoration. It is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy.'
  • I was with Cézanne for a long time, and now naturally I am with Picasso.
    • Arshile Gorky (1940's), as quoted in Gorky Memorial Exhibition, Schwabacher pp. 28
  • I have in front of me photographs of all Picasso’s best works. The mere I admire them the further I feel myself removed from all art, it seems so easy, so limited! We are part of the world creation, and we ourselves create nothing.
    • Arshile Gorky (1941), in a letter to his future wife Agnes Magruder (Mougouch), 7 Mai 1941; as quoted in Arshile Gorky, – Goats on the roof, ed. by Matthew Spender, Ridinghouse, London 2009, p. 168
  • ...they [Picasso and Georges Braque ] began working together, each understood and accepted the perspectival ambiguity implicit in Cézanne's colored planes, which they saw as acting simultaneously in two different positions: one an illusion, a colored equivalent for the position of the natural object in depth, the other actual, as an area for color on the surface of the picture.
  • There's no doubt but that without this liberté, égalité and fraternité there could not have been a Monet, Modigliani, Picasso, or Giacometti.
  • ..[Picasso had] a depth of understanding and insight into the inwardness of things.. ..doing very exceptional things of a most abstract psychic nature..
    • Marsden Hartley (1912) in a letter (from Paris) to Rockwell Kent, August 22, 1912, Archives of American Art; as quoted in Marsden Hartley, by Gail R. Scott, Abbeville Publishers, Cross River Press, 1988, New York p. 42
  • Dora Maar is always being referred to as Picasso’s lover, and actually what I want to do is scream and say Dora Maar was an incredible street photographer and Surrealist, and she was amazing. But how often does her name come up in telling his story?
  • As a little female kid in Ohio, It was hard to identify with Picasso: his life with his babes And my life with my cat were rather different.
    • Jenny Holzer Art Is the Highest Form of Hope & Other Quotes by Artists by Phaidon (2016) 87
  • When he [Picasso] paints as an cubist, putting one tone next to another, the arrangement of planes is fine and the result very strong. But those who imitate him achieve nothing worthwhile.
    • Aristide Maillol (1939 – 1944) in Conversations with Judith Cladel; as quoted in Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, Londonp. p. 407
  • Years later he [Picasso] would tell the French writer André Malraux of something else that shaped his Demoiselles [made in Paris, June-July 1907]. Matisse had shown him an African statue he'd bought. Then Picasso went to the dingy ethnographic museum in Paris, the 'Trocadero', with its collection of primitive artefacts. It smelled like a flea market, but it opened his eyes to the magic of masks and fetishes. If you give spirits a shape, you break free from them, he said. Suddenly... I grasped why I was a painter. All alone in that museum, surrounded by masks, Red Indian dolls, dummies covered with dust. The Demoiselles must have come that day.. ..because it was my first exorcising picture.
    • André Malraux, 1940's, in 'Matisse & Picasso', Paul Trachtman, Smithsonian Magazine, February 2003, p. 4
  • Sexuality in art, Picasso’s included, is always an effect of representation: it is produced conventionally, through pictorial signs, and never traceable directly to the artist’s feelings or fantasies about particular women or woman in general. Picasso may be unremittingly macho in his life, but in his work, with rare exceptions, as in the period in the Thirties when he was obsessed with the youthful Marie-Thérèse Walter, his visual construction of gender is interestingly ambiguous.
  • Picasso's great fresco is a monument to destruction, a cry of outrage and horror amplified by the spirit of genius.
    • Herbert Read (1945), 'Guernica', in A Coat of Many Colours, Routledge, 1945; also quoted in Bryan D. Palmer, Cultures of Darkness: Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2000, and Russell Martin, Picasso's War : the destruction of Guernica, and the masterpiece that changed the world. New York : Plume Books, 2003.
  • Well some people try to pick up girls
    And get called assholes
    This never happened to Pablo Picasso
    He could walk down your street
    And girls could not resist his stare and
    So Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole
  • He's the greatest bull artist in the world—and only occasionally the greatest artist in the world.
    • Edward G. Robinson, as quoted in Leonard Spigelgass's epilogue to Robinson's All My Yesterdays: An Autobiography (1973), p. 276
  • Einstein, Picasso, Joyce, gave us our keys; the nature of motion reached us from Proust as from the second-run movie; the Hippodrome girls went down into the eternal lake, Lindbergh had conquered time, Roosevelt had at last spoken openly to us of the demon of our house, and he had named it: fear.
  • Picasso was telling Madame C-- that he could paint anywhere and anyhow. That nothing in the world could stop him. That even if he were imprisoned, he would draw on the dust-covered prison walls and on the floor, with his fingers dripped in his own spit. He said he could paint then and there if he wanted to, or if he felt like it.
  • Francis Newton Souza, "Paris Portrait - II" in Singh, Rana (ed.). Thought vol. iii no. 23 (June 22 1951). Delhi: Siddhartha Publications. pp. 11–12. 
  • 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... the master... ...being a master: 'I don’t search, I find' ["Je ne cherche pas, je trouve"; a famous quote of Picasso, where he criticizes the 'searching' artists] ... the master, the mastery... ...Producing, producing... He [Picasso!] only knows how to work, can’t do anything else. What lost souls!... The great risk is producing for its own sake. You must never force things. You just have to wait.
    • Bram van Velde (1966), in Conversations with Samuel Beckett and Bram van Velde, ed. Charles Juliet, First Dalkey Archive edition, 2009, London and Champaign, 31 October 1966; p. 59
  • "Almost 40 years ago [from 2006] a German official asked Pablo Picasso in front of his painting of the bombing that destroyed Guernica if he had done that. The artist replied, "No: You all did it."

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  1. Addio al pittore Ibrahim Kodra l'albanese che piaceva anche a Brera,, February 2, 2006.
  2. Elena Pontiggia Omaggio al pittore Kodra all’Adafa,, La Provincia, March 5, 2006.
  3. Moore, John (2004). I Am Not a Man, I Am Dynamite!: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Anarchist Tradition. Brooklyn NY: Autonomedia. p. 87.
  4. Lehning, Arthur, ed. (1973). Mikhail Bakunin: Selected Writings. London: Cape. p. 58.