15 Pablo Picasso Fun Facts

Photo of Pablo Picasso
Photo of Pablo Picasso

1. Picasso's Full Name Has 23 Words

Picasso was baptized Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso. He was named after various saints and relatives. The "Picasso" is actually from his mother, Maria Picasso y Lopez. His father is named Jose Ruiz Blasco.

2. Picasso's First Word: Pencil

It's like Picasso was born an artist: his first word was "piz," short of lápiz the Spanish word for 'pencil.' His father Ruiz, an artist and art professor, gave him a formal education in art starting from the age of 7. By 13, Ruiz vowed to give up painting as he felt that Pablo had surpassed him.

3. Pablo's First Artworks

At the tender young age of 9, Picasso completed his first painting: Le picador, a man riding a horse in a bullfight.

His first major painting, an "academic" work is First Communion, featuring a portrait of his father, mother, and younger sister kneeling before an altar. Picasso was 15 when he finished it.

4. When He Was Born, The Midwife Thought He Was Stillborn

Picasso had such a difficult birth and was such a weak baby that when he was born, the midwife thought that he was stillborn so she left him on a table to attend his mother. It was his uncle, a doctor named Don Salvador, that saved him.

5. Picasso was a Terrible Student

No doubt about it, Picasso was brilliant: artistically, he was years ahead of his classmates who were all five to six years older than him. But Picasso chafed at being told what to do and he was often thrown into "detention":

For being a bad student I was banished to the 'calaboose' - a bare cell with whitewashed walls and a bench to sit on. I liked it there, because I took along a sketch pad and drew incessantly ... I could have stayed there forever drawing without stopping ”
- Pablo Picasso

6. Picasso's First Job

Picasso signed his first contract in Paris with art dealer Pere Menach, who agreed to pay him 150 francs per month (about US$750 today).

7. Did Picasso Steal the Mona Lisa?

Actually no, but in 1911, when the famous painting Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci was stolen from the Louvre, the police took in Picasso's friend, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. Apollinaire fingered Picasso as a suspect, so the police hauled him in for questioning. Both were later released.

8. Cubism: Full of Little Cubes

In 1909, Picasso and French artist Georges Braque co-founded an art movement known as cubism. Actually, it was a French art critic Louis Vauxcelles who first called it "bizarre cubiques" or cubism, after noting that Picasso and Braque's paintings are "full of little cubes."

9. Picasso claimed "Paul Cézanne was my one and only master."

In 1943, Pablo Picasso declared to photographer George Brassaï that artist Paul Cézanne was "my one and only master."...Read the whole story

10. Guernica

When a Nazi officer saw Guernica he asked Picasso "Was you who did it?" and Picasso is said to have responded, "No, you did!".

11. Picasso is a prolific artist

In all his life Picasso produced about 147,800 pieces, consisting of: 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, 300 sculptures and ceramics and 34,000 illustrations - an impressive 78-year career.

12. Picasso's iconic striped shirt is no ordinary garment

Picasso's iconic shirt is a Breton-striped shirt, which in 1858 became the official uniform for French seamen in Brittany. Picass was also a leader in fashion, and his Breton striped t-shirt was designed by Coco Chanel. The 21 horizontal stripes represent each of Napoleon's victories.

13. Exhibition at the Louvre Museum

Picasso was the first artist to receive a special honour exhibition at the Grand Gallery of the Louvre Museum in Paris in celebration of his 90 years.

14. Picasso was a poet and a playwright

After ending his first marriage in 1935, Picasso dabbled in poetry and later wrote two surrealist plays. Between 1935 and 1959 Picasso wrote over 300 poems that were mostly untitled except for an occasional date and location of where it was written. It was rumoured that Picasso predicted he'd be known more for his poetry than his paintings.

15. Where is Picasso buried?

Picasso was buried in the grounds of a château that he bought on a whim in 1958 in the village of Vauvenargues in the south of France.

Pablo Picasso's Buried Place
Pablo Picasso's Buried Place

Small groups of visitors are now allowed to view his final resting place, where he has lain since his death aged 91. The raised burial mound is topped with his 1933 sculpture, Femme au vase.

Picasso is said to have bought the estate after discovering that it lay on the slopes of Mont Sainte-Victoire, which was painted more than 30 times by Paul Cézanne, the Impressionist artist. "I have just bought myself Cézanne's mountains," he told his agent.