Pablo Picasso (image from

Picasso would have turned 129 today, if the polymath artist, sculptor and co-inventor of cubism hadn’t died in 1973 at the age of 92.

Born in 1881, the artist rapidly commenced almost a full century of being awesome. I love Picasso because he pretty much kicked off my interest in modern art and was my gateway drug into all sorts of fun things like Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and the vast deserts of contemporary art.

So today we will put this Jonathan Richman song on repeat and remember that Pablo Picasso was never, ever called an asshole.

Thinking of Picasso’s birthday links pretty easily to the artist’s death. One Picasso piece that I rarely see kicked around is the last drawing he completed before he died. For some reason, probably my own morbid sense of humor, I like to look up the last work that an artist made as a kind of monument to their lives and work. Picasso’s is pretty striking. The artist’s fear of death and encroaching impotence is pretty well-chronicled, even if those fears were unfounded (oh hey, getting remarried in your 80s … ). Keeping that in mind, check this out:

Pablo Picasso, “Self Portrait Facing Death” (1972) (image from

For anyone curious about Picasso’s life, I cannot recommend enough John Richardson’s biographies of the artist. They are almost literally week to week accounts of his life. The detail and the stories found within are astounding.

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...