The Picasso admired by the surrealists is not the exceptionally gifted child student of the teacher José Ruiz Blasco in his precocious talent, nor the painter of the blur period (1901-04), nor the pink period, from his time at the Bateau-Lavoir on Rue de Ravignan in 1904. He was instead the friend on Apollinaire; the vigorous protagonist of cubism, who dissociated forms and rejected reality as it appeared.  Paul Éluard, speaking for his friends, said: “This man held in his hands the fragile key to the problem of reality.  He sought to see what he sees, to liberate vision and attain clairvoyance.  An he succeeded.”  Several of Picasso’s cubist paintings, such as La Jeune fille à la mandoline (1910), L’Homme à la clarinette (1911-2), La Femme aux seins dorés (1913) announced for the surrealists the beginning of a new artistic era.  After his Ingres-esque period, Picasso was drawn to surrealism at its very inception, admiring Breton, whose portrait he etched for the front piece of Clair de Terre (1923), and with whom he collaborated on La Révolution surréaliste.  Picasso attended surrealist meetings in cafés and painted works where figures of the unconscious appear to loom.  His characteristic surrealist period lasted from 1928 to 1932, featuring, for example, the series Bathers, painted on the beach at Dinard in Brittany.  His sand reliefs from 1933 still portrayed a surrealist spirit. It was Guernica (1937) that marked a turning point in his evolution.  Later on, he occasionally showed that he had not disavowed surrealist inspiration; for example, in writing Le Désir attrapé par la queue (1943).  However, the man who created the mythological paintings in the Musée d’Antibes, who in 1948 began making ceramics at Vallauris, and painted a series of Ateliers (1955-56) at Cannes and nearly fifty canvases after Velasquez’ Ménines, who engraved bullfights on linoleum and multiplied still lives and protraits, this man may have had admirable liberty and daring, but these works never came up to the standard of surrealism.  As Breton observed, “ The enduring obstacle to a more complete unification of his views and ours lies in his unshakeable attachment to the outer world (of “the object”) and the blindness that this disposition perpetuates on the levels of dreams and the imagination.” 

Pablo Ruiz Picasso

Born 1881 in Malaga, Spain; died 1973 at Mougins, France. 

Demoiselles D'Avignon​, Oil on Canvas, 1907