Pablo Picasso primarily earned a name for himself as a gifted and accomplished painter, although he produced great artistic works in other areas too, including sculpting, printmaking, ceramics and even stage design. He showed intelligence and a prowess for academics at a young age, but preferred drawing and design. Born in 1881, Picasso received his first formal art instruction from his father, Don Jose Ruiz Blasco, who was also a painter and an art instructor.
Through childhood, Picasso's interest in art surpassed his interest in receiving a formal education. At age 14, Picasso moved with his family to Barcelona, Spain, where he briefly attended the prestigious School of Fine Arts, but ultimately objected to the rigid educational structure and left his studies behind. Picasso received artistic training in classical style, but since he was never fond of rules, he eventually found his own unique niche as an artist, leaving classical and formal methods for experimental and contemporary artistic endeavors.
Art historians generally break Picasso's artworks into several distinct periods. Picasso's Blue Period, ranging from 1901 to 1904, included famous works such as "Blue Nude" and "Old Guitarist." The year 1905 brought happier times for Picasso, and this is reflected in his use of warmer colors and cheerful works, including "Gertrude Stein" and "Two Nudes." Cubism followed, as did his Classical Period, producing "Pipes of Pan," among other works. The Surrealist Period extended to World War II. After the war, Picasso combined his new-found political fervor with art, producing "Self Portrait Facing Death" in 1972.