Pablo Picasso – The Genius
Pablo Picasso was born on 25th October 1881. This great Spanish Master accomplished so much in one lifetime and is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. This giant of the art world left an enormous legacy of over 10,000 art pieces when he passed away at age 92.
Young Pablo produced his first major painting at age fifteen called “First Communion”, by which time his talent had surpassed his father José Ruiz y Blasco, a painter and art professor of considerable note. Did you know that Picasso’s father, mother, and younger sister are the models he used in “First Communion”?
He worked right up to his death, experimenting with styles, ideas, techniques and mediums and creating his signature style. Paintings, drawings, murals, pottery, sculpture, ceramics – this multifaceted genius excelled at everything.
Picasso’s Trousers – Book Review
“Picasso’s Trousers” by Nicholas Allan offers up a playful approach to introduce your child to the genius of Pablo Picasso. Whilst aimed at the very young (I first read it to my son when he was 4), this engaging picture book is a joy for all ages. With sparse text and vibrant child-like illustrations, it cleverly weaves together the colourful and cartooned scenes of Picasso’s life with representations of some of his most famous works.
The narrative progresses along with a series of rejections and “No!”s directed toward Picasso’s ideas throughout his life and career. Unfazed and unapologetic, the artist rejects these “No!”s with a resounding “Yes!” and turns each red light into green; the collective genius of his body of work clearly vindicates and stands testament to his unwavering self-belief. This book salutes the might of abstract thinking, resisting convention and having faith in oneself.
Like the verses of a song each section of this book is echoed by a call-and-response chorus that plays with the words “No!” and “Yes!”.
“You can’t paint ALL BLUE pictures”, they said. “No! No! No! Picasso!” But Picasso said “YES!”
“You can’t paint a face from the front and the side ALL AT THE SAME TIME”, they said “No! No! No! Picasso!” But Picasso said “YES!”
“You can’t paint HEAVINESS! No! No! No! Picasso!” But Picasso said “YES!”
“No” and “yes” are amongst the first words that children learn. Most toddlers learn to say “no” before they can even say their own name, and it quickly becomes their favourite go-to rebuttal as they develop their independent and oh-so-cute contrarian personalities. The predictable and repetitive uttering of “No! No! No! Picasso!” is out-and-out ear-candy to a young child, who will enthusiastically repeat its mantra throughout the book.
I read this book countless times to my son when he was little and can attest to the relish with which he joined in the chorus of “No! No! No!”. I managed to talk my son into reading this book with me once again for old time’s sake as I revisited it for this post. As an all-around too-cool-for-school teenager now, he doesn’t care much for picture books these days; but the unmistakable (yet cleverly concealed) joy of revisiting his early childhood favourite was abundantly evident. It has obviously left an impression on him to this day as he excels in the use of the word “no” when challenging my pleas to do his chores:)
Nicholas Allan – The Author & Illustrator
Nicholas Allan is a British children’s writer and illustrator, born and raised in Brighton, England. He studied art and creative writing and started publishing children’s books from the late 1980s. His book series “Hilltop Hospital” has even been adapted into an award-winning television series.
“Picasso’s Trousers” has a brilliant dedication from Nicholas Allan entitled “To my Mum”. Mrs Allan sounds like a fair and impartial judge of her son’s talent; and while Nicholas may not be a Picasso, Mrs Allan can be truly proud of what her son has achieved as an author and illustrator of children’s books!
This book ends with a one-page biography of Picasso which is engaging, entertaining and very accessible. It covers all significant milestones of his life and career like his Blue Period, Rose Period, the importance of Les Demoiselles d”Avignon and Guernica and Picasso’s creative collaboration with his pal Georges Braque which gave birth to Cubism.
If I could add to this biographical note, I’d give one more paragraph recounting Picasso’s friendship and creative rivalry with Henri Matisse. I was fortunate enough to see the Matisse & Picasso exhibition at the National Gallery Australia which explores the friendship between these two geniuses.
In conclusion to my praise for this great picture book, if you were to ask me if “Picasso’s Trousers” has that X-factor for young children, I would answer with a definitive “it’s a YES from me”.