Picasso’s Self Portraits shows The Evolution Of his paintings through a lifetime

Pablo Picasso is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Picasso experimented with a wide variety of mediums, including constructed sculpture and collage, but it is his paintings that he is most remembered for.

Picasso became a very skilled naturalistic painter and was painting professionally by the age of 14. As he grew older, his style diverted greatly from naturalism as he began experimenting with different artistic techniques. Over the years, he periodically reinvented his artistic style, causing great variation in his work. When you look at his self-portraits, you will notice the transition from his early works to later works is . We’ve put together a collection of self-portraits ranging from Picasso’s boyhood to his final years to demonstrate the remarkable changes.


1896: Age 15

At the age of 15, Picasso possessed a great deal of artistic talent. This oil on canvas work is entitled, “Self Portrait with Uncombed Hair,” and it is in the vein of Realism. Looking at his most popular paintings you will be surprised to see such an artwork of Picasso

“Self Portrait with Uncombed Hair”


1900: Age 18

Charcoal on paper work remains relatively situated within the realm of Realism. During this phase of Picasso’s life, he faced extreme poverty and several works of his art were burned to stay warm.



1901: Age 19

Picasso’s self-portrait at age 19, painted with oil paints on a board, showcases an artist with great confidence. The strokes here were made hastily, but with great precision and skill.



 1901: Age 20

This oil on canvas work painting demonstrates a more expressionistic style and is considered to be a part of Picasso’s “Blue Period,” which is characterized by monochromatic blue hues, dark colors, and themes of poverty and human frailty.


Blue Period

1902: Age 21

Though exact date is unknown, it is believed to be painted in early 1902. The self-portrait was completed with black chalk and watercolors on paper.



1906: Age 24

Painted in Paris in the summer of 1906, Picasso’s “Self Portrait with a Palette” is considered to be part of Picasso’s “Rose Period” works. This period is associated with warmer colors and optimism. Clearly, he has begun to divert from Realism in his depiction of the human form.


Rose Period

1907: Age 25

Now entering his “African Period,” Picasso began using colors and shapes inspired by African art. His depiction of himself continues to divert away from any sense of reality.


“African Period”

1917: Age 35

By 1917, Picasso had already co-founded the Cubist movement and had reinvented visual arts. Following WWI, he was already starting to veer away from the harsh lines of Cubism in pursuit of simpler shapes and patterns. He uses charcoal here to create a minimalist self portrait.



1938: Age 56

In the early 1930s, Picasso connected with many members of the surrealist movement, and his works began to demonstrate this. This charcoal self-portrait looks unnatural and otherworldly. His most famous works of this era, particularly “Guernica,” illustrate a darkness and surreal quality that could perhaps be related to the turmoil the Nazis had begun inflicting on Europe at the time.



1965: Age 83

This oil on canvas self-portrait entitled “The Seated Man” continues to demonstrate a departure from realism. Bright colors also begin to appear more prominently in his later works.


“The Seated Man”

1966: Age 85

Patterns and harsh shapes create a strange depiction of a man. When you look back and compare this to the works he created as a young man, there are virtually no connections. When trying to make sense of the transition, something Picasso once famously said is very interesting: “The different styles I have been using in my art must not be seen as an evolution, or as steps towards an unknown ideal of painting. Everything I have ever made was made for the present and with the hope that it would always remain in the present.”



1971: Age 89

This self-portrait entitled, “Bust of a Man Writing” was completed by Picasso at the age of 89.


“Bust of a Man Writing”

1972: Age 90

Within a few days of each other, Picasso completed a series of self portraits in the summer of 1972. The first was this work, in which the artist is unrecognizable within a collage of rich textures and colors.



1972: Age 90

The next piece he finished only a few days later, and it is his last well-known self portrait. “Self Portrait Facing Death,” was completed with colored crayons on paper. It’s notable for the widely opened eyes that indicate the fear Picasso felt in the face of his approaching death. Dark lines are used to create the deep-set wrinkles of age.


“Self Portrait Facing Death”

1972: Age 90

Two days after the previous work, he completed this similar self portrait entitled “Head.” The colors have all left the face, a piece of the head is missing, and the face looks shadowy and gaunt. Following his series of self-portraits in 1972, Picasso never released any other portraits of himself before his death a year later. He remains one of the most iconic figures in art history.



Collage images via 1. The Artchive | Pablo Picasso 2. Pablo Ruiz Picasso | Pablo Picasso

Credits – EvanHamza, Diply

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