Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. When he died in 1973, he was ninety-one years old. But he still took up his paints and brushes to start a new picture as if he were seeing things for the first time.

  That’s why we have called him the youngest painter. Yong people are always trying new things and new ways of doing things. They don’t hesitate to attempt one thing after another. Eager to experiment, they welcome new ideas. They are restless and alive and never satisfied. They seek perfection1.

  When he was over ninety this great painter still lived his life like a young man. He was still restlessly looking for new ideas and for new ways to use his artistic materials. No one knew what to expect from him next. No one could be sure what kind of picture he would produce. If he had painted a picture of you it might have looked exactly like you. Or it might have been all lines, squares, circles and strange-colored shapes. It might not have looked human at all.

  At such times Picasso was trying to paint what he saw with his mind as well as with his eyes. He put in the side of the face as well as the front. He may have painted it flat, as though it had no depth. Sometimes he seemed to paint just as a child paints, simply for his own pleasure. He didn’t imitate2 others. “If the subjects I have wanted to express have suggested different ways of expression, I have never hesitated to use them,” he said.

  Most painters discover a style of painting that suits them and stick to3 that, especially if people admire their pictures. As the artist grows older his pictures may change, but not very much. But Picasso was like a man who had not yet found his own particular style of painting. He was still struggling to find perfect expression for his own uneasy4 spirit.

  The first thing one noticed about him was the look of his large, wide-open eyes. Gertrude Stein, a famous American writer who knew him in his youth, mentioned this hungry look, and one can still see it in pictures of him today.

  Picasso painted a picture of Gertrude Stein in 1906. She visited the painter’s studio5 eighty or ninety times while he painted her picture. While Picasso painted they talked about everything in the world that interested them. Then one day Picasso wiped out the painted head on which he had worked6 for so long. “When I look at you I can’t see you any more!”he said.

  Picasso went away for the summer. When he returned he went at once to the unfinished picture in the corner of his studio. Quickly he finished the face from memory. He could see the woman’s face more clearly in his mind than he could see it when she sat in the studio in front of him.

  When people complained to him that the painting of Miss Stein didn’t look like her, Picasso would reply, “Too bad. She’ll have to arrange to look like the picture.” But thirty years later Gertrude Stein said that Picasso’s painting of her was the only picture she knew that showed her as she really was.

  If ever anyone was born to be a painter, Picasso was. His father was a painter and art teacher who gave his son his first lessons in drawing. Picasso won a prize for his first important painting, “Science and Charity”, when he was only fifteen. He studied art in several cities in Spain. But there was no one to teach him all he wanted to know. When he was nineteen he visited Paris.

  Paris was then the centre of the world for artists. Everything that was new and exciting in the world of painting seemed to happen there. When he was twenty-three Picasso returned there to live and lived in France for the rest of his life.

  He was already a fine painter. He painted scenes of town life— people in the streets and in restaurants, at horse races, bull fights and circuses7. They were painted in bright colours, lovely to look at.

  But life was not easy for an unknown painter. The struggle began to show in a new choice of subjects. For several years he painted people from the poorer parts of the city. He painted men and women who were thin, hungry, tired, sick and blind. His colours got darker. Most of these pictures were painted in shades of blue and showed very clearly what the artist saw and felt. The paintings of this “blue period” are full of pity and despair8.

  Picasso did not have to wait long for success. As he began to sell his pictures and to become recognized as a painter his pictures took on a warmer look. At the same time he began to paint with more and more freedom and independence. He began to see people and places in simple forms and shapes. He no longer tried to make his pictures true-to-life.

  The results at first seemed strange and unreal. The pictures were difficult to understand. He painted human heads, scenes from nature, or ordinary objects all in the same way: as if their shapes were the one important thing about them. This style of painting, which spread to many other artists, was known as Cubism9.

  Picasso was often attacked for this new, sometimes frightening style. It produced pictures like some of our worst dreams. The camera has made it unnecessary for painters to make exact representations of what they see. A camera can reflect real life more exactly. What great paintings give us is a view of life through one man’s eyes, and every man’s view is different.

  Some of Picasso’s paintings are rich, soft-coloured and beautiful. Others are ugly and cruel and strange with sharp, black outlines10. But such paintings can make our own view of the world sharper. For they force us to say to ourselves, “What does he see that makes him paint like that?” And we begin to look beneath the surface of the things we see.

  Picasso painted thousands of pictures in many different styles. Sometimes he painted the natural look of things. Sometimes he seemed to break them apart. He demanded the right to show us what the mind knows as well as what the eye sees. He himself remained as curious about the world as he had been when he was young.

  帕布罗·毕加索1881年出生于西班牙的马拉加,1973年逝世,享年91岁。当年,他还拿过颜料和画笔开始创作新的作品,仿佛第一次见识这个世界。

  这就是我们称毕加索为最年青画家的原因。年青人总在尝试新事物新方法,他们毫不犹豫进行一次又一次的尝试,他们急于试验,欢迎各种新观点。他们不太安分,生气勃勃,从不满足。他们追求完美。

  这位绘画大师年逾九旬仍然活得像年青人一样。他总是在不停地寻求新的想法、新的方式来运用他的绘画工具。没有人知道他下一幅画会带给人们什么,也没有人能确定他会画出什么类型的作品。他给你画的肖像可能完全像你,也可能全是些线条、正方形、圆圈和色彩怪异的各种图形,可能看起来根本不像人。

  这一时期毕加索绘画不仅运用双眼,还用到内心。他画面部侧面的同时又展现脸的正面;他可以将一张脸画成好像毫无深度的平面。有时他的画充满童稚,只因为他喜欢这样。他从不模仿他人,他说过:“如果我要描绘的对象有不同的表述方式,我总是会毫不犹豫地采用。”

  大多数画家找到适合自己的绘画风格,就会坚持下去,尤其是自己的作品受到追捧时。随着年岁的增长,他们的画风可能有一些不同,但变化不大。而毕加索似乎还没有找到自己特有的绘画风格,他始终在努力寻求用完美的方式来表现自己躁动的心。

  人们首先注意到的就是他双目圆睁的神情。自青年时代就与之相识的美国著名作家格特鲁德·斯坦因曾提到过那种如饥似渴的眼神,那种神情今天依然可以在毕加索的照片中看到。

  1906年毕加索曾为格特鲁德·斯坦因画过一幅肖像,其间她拜访画家的画室有八、九十次之多。毕加索一边作画,一边与她天南地北地聊些他们感兴趣的话题。然后有一天,毕加索擦掉画了很久的头像,说:“我看着你时,就再也见不着你了!”

  毕加索外出了一整个夏天,刚返回他就来到了画室一角那幅尚未完成的画前,凭着记忆头像很快完成了。毕加索脑中那位女士的面容比坐在画室自己对面的她更清晰。

  人们抱怨他为斯坦因小姐画的像不像她,毕加索回答:“很遗憾,她应该让自己长得像那幅画才是。”但是三十年后格特鲁德·斯坦因却说,她的画像中惟有毕加索画的那幅表现了真真实实的她。

  如果有谁天生就是画家,毕加索就是一个。他的父亲是个画家兼美术教师,也是儿子绘画的启蒙老师。毕加索第一幅重要作品“科学与慈善”获奖时,年仅15岁。他在西班牙好几个城市学习美术,但没有人能教他想知道的一切。19岁时他去了巴黎。

  当时的巴黎是世界艺术中心,似乎绘画界所有令人兴奋的新生事物都发生在那里。23岁时,毕加索回到巴黎定居下来,在法国度过了余生。

  他已然是个不错的画家了。他描绘姿态各异的市井人生 —— 街上行人、饭店食客、赛马的赌民、斗牛场和马戏场的观众。画面色彩亮丽,赏心悦目。

  然而生活对一个没有名气的画家来说并不容易。他选择新的绘画主题,开始展示生活中的挣扎。有那么几年,他画的都是城市中的贫民,那些瘦弱、饥饿、疲惫、生病和失明的男男女女,色调暗淡。大多数画使用了深深浅浅的蓝色,画家的所见所感一览无遗。这些“蓝调时期”的作品充满了怜悯和失望。

  成功并没有让毕加索等待太久。他开始售出自己的画作,并逐渐成为公认的画家,作品的色调也温暖了起来。同时他的绘画手法开始表现出越来越多的自由和独立性。他开始以更简单的方式和图形来诠释人物与情景,不再试图让作品照搬现实生活。

  这种效果刚开始看起来怪异而不真实,画面难于理解。无论是人物头像,还是自然景观或普通物体,他都以同样的方式去表现,好像这些事物最重要的就是形状。这一绘画风格影响了其他许多画家,被称为“立体画派”。

  这种新的风格有时给人以恐惧感,这使毕加索频遭抨击。这一风格的作品好似我们的某些梦魇。有了照相机,画家们已经没有必要去准确再现他们看到的事物。照相机对真实生活的准确反映更胜一筹。好的绘画作品呈现给我们的是某个人眼里的生活,而每个人的视角都是不同的。

  毕加索的有些画色泽丰富、柔和、优美怡人;其他的画则用黑色勾出凌厉的轮廓,显得丑陋、冷酷、怪异。但是这些画却使我们对世界的观察更加敏锐,因为它们迫使我们自问:“他看到了什么才画出这样的画?”然后我们开始透过事物的表面去审视内在的东西。

  毕加索创作了成千上万幅风格各异的作品,有时他表现的是事物的本来面目,有时好似将事物掰成了一块块的。他决意向我们表现的既有目之所见,也有心之所感。终其一生,他对这个世界一直保持着年青时的好奇。