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Success and Happiness: What Pablo Picasso’s Life Reveals
The moment you have finished this article, you will be able to learn how you can find whether the years just ahead are good or bad for you, and how long this season will last, so that you can act accordingly: if there is a storm on the horizon, you will take shelter in time, if sunny days loom ahead, you will take advantage before the opportunity passes, so that you can highly succeed in life.
Before that however, we have first to see what lessons derive from great Spanish painter Pablo Picasso’s life, how the alternations of his life seasons from good to bad and vice versa radically influenced his successful career.
At age between 11 and 27 years, Picasso was in a bad season of his life. At first, his family moved to La Coruna, a small Spanish town on the Atlantic Ocean, when he was 11 years, in 1892. There, rain and fog prevailed almost every day. “The rain… and the wind,” Picasso wrote in a melancholy tone as a young child, “have begun, and will continue until Coruna is no more.” Three years later, conflict arose with his father. The father -an amateur painter- felt his son’s drawings were not up to par. So, Picasso left for Madrid. But there, he became penniless. He didn’t have enough money for food, and became seriously ill from scarlet fever.
He was forced thus to return to Barcelona. But his father had become extremely hostile; the rift between them would never be bridged. Not long after that, the son stopped using his father’s name -Ruiz- and kept only the name of his mother: Picasso. And when later he went to Paris, he faced extreme hardship. He was unable to sell any of his paintings and became more desperate from day to day. So, he was forced to go back to his family in Barcelona again so he would at least have something to eat.
Picasso stayed in Barcelona for three years, but those years were full of depression, so he returned to Paris. There, he stayed in a miserable ground-floor room with a rotten floor, without ventilation, and without heat. He tried to sell some of his works, but the results were disappointing.
But at age 27, in 1909, a good season started for Picasso. He began earning a good income, and he abandoned the miserable room. He moved to a large apartment in one of the best sections of Paris, and started receiving wealthy friends and others at receptions on Sunday afternoons. His life had changed dramatically.
Though in 1914, World War I began and the wartime situation was very difficult for many people, for Picasso it was not. Most of his friends went to the army -and he never saw many of them again- but because he had Spanish citizenship, he was not required to serve in the military. And in 1918, he married Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballet dancer. His works were now eagerly bought up, and his income was so substantial that he and Olga could move to a luxurious apartment in the fashionable Champs Elysees area.
The next five years between 1921 and 1925 were full of money, comfort, and pleasure. He was deprived of nothing during those years, while he was constantly invited to the receptions and dances of the Parisian nobility. He spent the summers in the most expensive French resorts -for example, at Cannes on the Riviera.
But in 1925, a new bad season started for Picasso. He became possessed by some great inner rage. He began painting nightmarish works, depicting figures with the faces of monsters, rotten teeth, naked human bones, and twisted limbs -all for no apparent reason. The first of those works was The Three Dancers, showing figures with dislocated bodies and displaced noses, mouths, hands, and breasts -a work that revealed his own fragmented mental state, a state of perpetual nightmare.
That situation continued into the next years. Also, in those years his relationship with his wife Olga had become very difficult, and in 1931 their marriage began deteriorating. She was strong woman, and they argued constantly. In 1933, the “winter” of this season definitely entered Picasso’s life: the great painter ceased painting. “I am alone in the house,” he wrote a friend, “and you can imagine what has happened and what is waiting for me.” His marriage to Olga had ended definitively that year; she had left, taking their 14-year-old son Paulo with her.
Picasso was at a complete loss. He was given to bouts of anger, isolated himself in his house, and refused to see anybody. And he became lethargic. He did not get any of the paintings done that he had been commissioned to do; instead he started writing poems. They were surrealistic poems, without rules of grammar or form, which he tried to keep secret. In September 1939, World War II broke out. Frightened, Picasso abandoned Paris and went with his friend young woman Dora Maar to a small town on the Atlantic coast. But in August 1940, he was forced to return to Paris -where the German troops were already in complete control.
But in 1941 a new good season began for Picasso. To his surprise, the Germans treated him with great politeness and respect. Officers frequently visited him at his home, admiring his works, and sometimes offered him coal for fuel during the chilly 1941 winter. But he refused with grace and humor. In 1942, a new Picasso was born: his anger dissipated, giving way to a calm and joyful disposition that was reflected in his works.
In June 1944, the course of the war changed, after the Allies landed at Normandy. The same month, the Allies triumphantly entered Paris. Filled with joy, the crowd ran through the streets. Picasso’s old friends and acquaintances, together with soldiers and others, flocked to his studio -a celebration that lasted for days. Picasso had suddenly become a new kind of hero, a symbol of passive resistance to the enemy during the oppressive days of the occupation. In the fall of 1944, it seemed that Picasso loved everybody and everybody loved him. He was one of the most popular people in France. The only person who could be compared with him was general Charles de Gaulle, the great hero of the war.
Around that time, the big “Salon d’ Automne” again opened its doors after four years of enforced idleness -an exhibition hall where Paris’s most important paintings were shown every year. Though until then no foreign painter had been invited to participate, now Picasso was the honored guest. A whole gallery was made available to him, and he sent 70 of his paintings and five of his sculptures, all made after 1940 and unknown to the public.
From 1945, Picasso’s storm and fury evaporated forever. He turned to cheerful and vivid subjects. The same year, another woman entered his life: Françoise Gilot, 21 years old and beautiful, clever, and vivacious. (Picasso was 64). He painted his new model in a deft, cheerful manner: like “a flower with a face surrounded by leaves or petals.” In the fall of 1946, he faced a tremendous demand for his works: all the museums wanted to acquire them.
The next year Picasso, Françoise, and their child -a son named Claude-settled in a village on the Riviera. They acquired a house there, and a period of unprecedented calmness and happiness began for him. He also produced there some clay masterpieces. In the summer of 1953, his relationship with Françoise ended and another woman came into his life. She was Jacqueline Roque, a beautiful and self-possessed young woman -he was 72 years old now- who would later become his second wife and would be with him until the end. Invigorated by his new life, he created then some of the most beautiful portraits of Jacqueline.
But this good season finally ended here. In 1957, a new bad season, the last of his life, would begin for Picasso. He was 76, and felt old. His main concern at that age was, of course, his health. But he wasn’t feeling good; he felt disappointed and his mental condition was bad. So, he soon withdrew from the world’s stage. In 1961 he bought another villa on the Riviera surrounded by lush trees that screened the house from the outer world. Frustrated, he isolated himself there for the rest of his life. His days of innovation and of surprising the public with his works were over. At the end of this bad season, in 1973, he left this life at the age of 92.
Picasso’s life reveals that even the people we think of being hugely successful throughout all their lives also have had their bad seasons, like all of us. Picasso’s life shows that a bad season started for him in 1892, which was followed by a good season, that began in 1909. A new bad season started in 1925, then a new good one began in 1941. Picasso’s last bad season of his life started in 1957. Do not blame yourselves, therefore, when you feel you are in a bad season. The same happens to all people, regardless how successful are they in their life. Happiness and success do not follow us through all our life.
Resembling alternations of seasons, however, derives also from the biographies of many other famous people I have studied. Among them, there are the biographies of Napoleon, Beethoven, Verdi, Churchill, Aristotle Onassis, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Queen Elizabeth I of England, Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Thatcher, Columbus, Mandela, and many others, more than 20 biographies in total.
— Beethoven’s good and bad seasons alternated in 1776, 1792, 1809, and 1825
— Napoleon’s alternated in 1776, 1792, and 1809
— Churchill’s alternated in 1875, 1892, 1908, 1924, and 1941
— Verdi’s alternated in 1825, 1842, 1859, 1875, and 1892
— Aristotle Onassis’s alternated in 1924, 1941, 1957 and 1974
— Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s alternated in 1941, 1957, 1974, and 1990
— Elizabeth Taylor’s alternated in 1941, 1958, 1975, and 1990
— Margaret Thatcher’s alternated in 1941, 1957, 1975, and 1990
— Mandela’s alternated in 1941, 1957, 1974, and 1990
— Queen Elizabeth’s I of England alternated in 1545, 1562, 1578 and 1595
— Columbus’s alternated in 1479 and 1496.
Comparing these biographies, I arrived at an astonishing discovery: the seasons of all the above people alternated according to a certain pattern. Also, after extensive research, I found that our own lives’ seasons alternate according to the same certain pattern. That means, therefore, we can foresee how our life’s good and bad seasons will alternate in the future, with amazing accuracy.
So, we can act accordingly. If there is a storm on the horizon, we can take shelter in time. If sunny days loom ahead, we can take advantage before the opportunity passes. We can thus highly succeed in life by taking crucial decisions regarding our career, marriage, family, relationships, and all other life’s issues.
From the above conclusion derives that in order to succeed in life, you have first to know how your own life’s seasons will alternate from good to bad and vice versa in the future.
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