The Cubism pioneer, born in a building off the Plaza de la Merced, didn’t stay long in Malaga, Spain. But that doesn’t stop the city from proudly claiming him as its own.
Despite the fact that Picasso left Málaga when he was still a boy, his legacy continues to be deeply rooted to the city he was born in. Heck, the rented floor of a building off the Plaza de la Merced where Picasso was born has been designated a heritage site since the early ’80s.
1. Picasso’s father, José Ruiz Blasco, was an artist in his own right. He bred pigeons, which became one of Picasso’s favorite subjects to paint — and they still rule the plaza square.
2. His complete name was a series of the names of saints and relatives and had a whopping 23 words: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso. Spanish tradition has children take maternal surnames as well, and Picasso adopted his mother’s, as he felt it better suited him.
3. The iconic Breton stripe shirt he often wore humbly began as the uniform of the French Navy. According to lore from Brittany, the shirt originally included 21 horizontal stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s military victories against the British, a heritage tied to France’s Normandy coast.
4. During the course of his career, Picasso changed companions as often as he changed focus and painting styles. He never did marry his greatest model and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Their relationship began when she was only 17 years old and he was 45 and living with his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a former Russian ballerina, with whom he had a 5-year-old son, Paulo.
Some of his most acclaimed works, including The Dream, were inspired by her.
They had a daughter together who was named Maria de la Concepción after his dead sister, Conchita.
Four years after Picasso’s death, Marie-Thérèse was unable to go on living and hanged herself.
5. Picasso and Georges Braque co-founded the revolutionary art movement of Cubism. The pair were influenced by such things as ancient Iberian sculpture and African masks. Their working relationship lasted until 1914, when Braque enlisted in the French Army at the beginning of World War I.
6. In 1963, Picasso was commissioned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to create a unique monumental public sculpture for the Chicago Civic Center (now called Daley Plaza). Refusing payment, he created a maquette (smaller-sized model) for the monument and gifted the full-scale reproduction to the city.
Perhaps because Picasso had not titled the piece, it was left open to ambiguous interpretation. At its unveiling, in the summer of 1967, the 50-foot work was widely criticized and universally disliked. Some critics likened it to the head of a baboon or perhaps the artist’s Afghan dog.
Now known simply as The Picasso, opinions have softened and it has since become an iconic symbol of Chicago. You can now watch kids skateboard and slide up and down the metal base. –Duke