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18 Interesting Facts About Pablo Picasso You Might Not Know

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Pablo Picasso is undoubtedly one of the most famous artists to have ever existed, with his artworks popular to this day. While a lot about this incredible painter is known, there are a few interesting facts about Pablo Picasso that the world doesn’t know.

In addition to creating countless paintings (AKA the most ever) depicting daily life through many periods and styles, Picasso lived a fascinating life as fascinating as his artwork. From his first to his last painting, which has all impacted the world of art, were several interesting occurrences that helped create his legacy.

In celebration of his legacy, here are some unique and fun facts about Pablo Picasso that might shock you.


Image by Antonio Lorenzana from Pexels

18 Interesting Facts About Pablo Picasso

From being a child prodigy that prompted his father to quit painting to his unusual encounter with the Nazis, here are 18 intriguing things about Pablo Picasso.

1. His Full Name Has Over 20 Words


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While he is known as Pablo Picasso, or more famously just Picasso, the prolific artist’s full name is longer than you might have imagined. It’s no world record, but his full name, which is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso, has 23 words.

A long list of saints and relatives inspired his given name. Interestingly enough, he took on his mother’s surname, “Picasso”, as he said it was “stranger” than Ruiz.

2. He Completed His First Artwork at 9 Years Old


Image by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Picasso was a child prodigy who apparently started drawing before he could even walk. He got his first lessons as a painter at seven years old at the hands of his father, himself a painter and professor of art. He completed his first full painting, La Picador, two years later at the tender age of 9.

Continuing his prolific early exploits, he was admitted to the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona at 13, completing his entrance exam in just a week. At 15, he finished The First Communion, his first “famous” painting portraying his family kneeling before an altar.

Unsurprisingly, he never retired and continued creating art until his death at 91 years old.

3. His First Word Was “Lapiz”, Pencil in English

Perhaps foreshadowing his life as a prolific and unique artist, Pablo Picasso went against the grain early in his life. Instead of his first word by the typical “mama” or “papa”, his first word was “lapiz” instead, which is Spanish for pencil.

While shocking for many, this didn’t surprise his parents as he had art in his blood through his father being an art professional.

4. Picasso Loved Animals


Image by Michail Dziekonski from Unsplash

As you can tell from some of his artworks, Picasso was an animal lover. His art featured as many creatures as he had in his day-to-day life, with him having a pet dog at all times. Among his companions were poodles, terriers, Afghan Hounds, and more.

His love for animals came from his father, a pigeon breeder who also taught Picasso how to paint these birds. 

5. Picasso Was a Bad Student

Despite completing his entrance exam in a week, which often took other students a month, Picasso wasn’t a good student. He was talented and could understand the concepts quickly, but he often had low grades.

The reason behind his bad academic performance was that he was frequently sent to detention and wasn’t a fan of conventional teaching methods. According to the man himself, he spent all his time in detention drawing without stopping.

6. Picasso’s Last Words Were Turned Into a Song by Paul McCartney


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Like his first word, Picasso’s last words have become iconic. During a dinner party in Mougins, he apparently said, “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore.”

These words inspired a song by Paul McCartney, who’d left the Beatles three years prior, and his new band. The song, called Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me), uses the words in its chorus.

7. He Was Once Suspected of Stealing the Mona Lisa


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In 1911, the world-renowned Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. During their search, the police zeroed in on poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who was Picasso’s good friend, as the main suspect.

Apollinaire apparently implicated Picasso, and he was then brought in for questioning as a suspect. Luckily, they were both later released, and the real culprit was found to be Vincenzo Peruggia, a Louvre security guard. He had stolen the artwork because he believed it belonged in an Italian museum.

8. Picasso is the Artist Whose Artwork Has Been Stolen the Most


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In an ironic twist, no artist has had their artwork stolen more times than Pablo Picasso, and by quite a margin. According to the Art Loss Register, the artist has had over a thousand of his pieces stolen by criminals.

In fact, his artwork has been stolen more times combined than the two artists that round up the top three. Nick Lawrence and Marc Chagall have had their artistic pieces stolen 557 and 516 times, respectively.

9. Picasso is the Most Prolific Artist Ever

Perhaps unsurprising for the artist with the most stolen artworks, Pablo Picasso holds the record for the most art pieces ever. Having done art for nearly 80 years, he managed to create over 150,000 works of art. This list includes a myriad of paintings, sculptures, and more.

Picasso was an experimental artist who was as inventive as he was creative, meaning he adapted to the different periods he lived through. His work spans different artistic periods, including surrealism, the Blue Period, cubism, and the like.

10. He Was More Than Just a Painter


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While Picasso is renowned as a painter, he was an artist’s artist. His creative endeavors didn’t just end at paintings; he also dabbled in different kinds of art during his lifetime.

In addition to painting, Picasso created several sculptures in a studio just outside of Paris. During the latter years of his life, he became a poet, playwright, and set designer. While this creative side isn’t as popular as his paintings, he churned over 300 poems, wrote two surrealist plays, and designed costumes for many productions.

11. He Was a Renowned Ladies’ Man


Image by fsHH from Pixabay

Among the fascinating facts about Pablo Picasso is that he was almost as well-known for his love affairs as his artworks. While he was married a modest two times and had just four children with three different women, he had many lovers throughout his life.

His first wife, Olga Khokhlova, was married to him until she died in 1955, but they separated in 1935 after she discovered he was cheating on her with a 17-year-old. Before getting remarried to Jacqueline Roque, he had many mistresses that were much younger than him. This includes Francoise Gilot, who authored Life with Picasso.

12. Nurses Thought He Was Stillborn at Birth


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Pablo Picasso was lucky to have lived such a long life as the midwives thought he was stillborn. His mother had a difficult birth, and he came into the world as a really weak baby, which prompted the nurses to leave him by the table while they tended to his mother.

Luckily, he was saved by his uncle, who was a doctor. Apparently, his uncle blew cigar smoke at young Pablo, and he started crying, thus granting him a long life.

13. Picasso Made His Dad Briefly Quit Painting

Pablo Picasso’s dad, an art professor and artist himself, was by no means a scrub when it came to painting. Ruiz had taught Picasso early on how to paint, and he specialized in artworks centered on doves and pigeons.

He walked in on 13-year-old Picasso painting over his pigeon sketch. He was so shocked to see that the student had surpassed the master that he decided to give up painting. This also prompted him to send Picasso to Barcelona’s School of Fine Arts.

14. Picasso Once Had an Encounter with Nazis

picassos-guernica interesting facts about pablo picasso

Image by Almudena Sanz from Pixabay

During the occupation of Paris by Nazi Germany, German soldiers had issues with Picasso because they didn’t like his art style. Having stayed in the city, the secret police of Germany (the Gestapo) often hounded the artist.

Among the many encounters between the two is one where the Gestapo raided his apartment and saw a photograph of the famous Guernica painting. When an officer asked him, “Did you do that [the painting]?” Picasso replied, “No, you did,” jokingly referencing the Guernica bombing.

15. He Often Carried an Empty Revolver With Him Wherever He Went


Image by Martin Redlin from Pixabay

Picasso often carried around an empty revolver with him wherever he went. The gun once belonged to the infamous Alfred Jarry, who often pulled it out to toy around or let others know not to mess with him.

Picasso, a fan of Jarry, bought the gun, but he walked around with the gun full of blanks. Depending on who you ask, he carried the pistol to fire blanks at anyone who questioned the meaning behind his work or at those he found dull.

16. Picasso Died Without a Will, and This Caused Many Issues


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Pablo Picasso died in 1973 due to a heart attack right after his famous last words. He died as the richest artist in history, but he, unfortunately, didn’t have a will. Due to this, there was a heated dispute over who should get his estate between his wife’s family and those of his mistresses.

The dispute was so heated that his then-wife, Jacqueline, refused entry to everyone but herself and their son. The first tragedy resulting from this was that Pablito, Picasso’s grandson, committed suicide by drinking bleach. Pablito’s father, Paulo, died two years later after fighting alcohol addiction.

Another two years passed, and his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who was often his muse, committed suicide. In 1986, Jacqueline also committed suicide by shooting herself, ending the tragic events that followed Picasso’s death.

17. He Painted One of the Most Expensive Paintings Ever


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Fitting for someone who died as the richest artist in the world, his artwork continues to sell for large sums of money today. In fact, he created one of the ten most expensive paintings ever. The Les Femmes d’Alger was sold for $179.4 million in 2015, making it the ninth most expensive painting ever.

It’s currently in a private collection that belongs to Qatari politician Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

18. He Co-Invented Collages


Image by Gareth David from Unsplash

The popular collage was co-created by Pablo Picasso in collaboration with Georges Braque. He popularized the technique by gluing newspaper fragments to his paintings, another rule-breaking method in the art world for Pablo to showcase his creativity.

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