top of page
  • Writer's pictureLaurie Seban

Pablo Picasso: Cubist Collage Art

Updated: Feb 20

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is one of the most famous artists in the world--but did you know he actually changed the idea of what art could be?

He was born in Malaga, Spain as the son of an artist, and later studied in Barcelona.

When he moved to Paris as a young man, he struggled like many others. He worked hard to show the world in a new way. After visiting the collection of African arts in Paris, he began to incorporate masks and African sculpture in his work. As an artist, he wanted to show the world how he saw things. He painted the world—a new world filled with people, trains, telegraphs and telephones in a new way:

-He simplified the outlines of his subjects so that you only saw the form, not the details.

-He looked at his subject from above, from below, and from the side—all at once!

Imagine drawing a face, with the eyes, nose and mouth. Now take the face and think about what it looks like from the top, from the side, and from below…

Picasso tried to show the world as if we were rushing through it, all at once. It’s a world filled with simple geometric shapes: squares, circles, triangles, and trapezoids. But when one critic walked through an exhibition of his work, he said the paintings were made of cubes—and that’s how his style became Cubism. Think of cubism like a puzzle—all the pieces are there, but we just have to put them back in the right place! Picasso played with the idea of Cubism for the rest of his life—and painted, sculpted, and drew into his 80’s! He made more art than any other modern artist—over 100,000 different works! He not only invented Cubism, he also invented the collage.

Around 1913, when Picasso was still painting in a very Cubist style—but his pictures were so fragmented, they were like a puzzle—and a puzzle that was very difficult for many people to solve! So Picasso decided to change the game a bit, by adding in new layers of the world. He took his own drawings and combined them with paper, newspaper, and even wallpaper to create a Cubist collage. The earliest work was called Still Life with Chair Caning—and it was framed with a real rope! How many layers of representation/reality can you see? The chair caning is the part that looks like a chair: Picasso was creating an image (puzzle) to show his table as he sat at a café. JOU also means “game” in French (jeu). Can you find the lemon for his drink? The printed journal? What is painted and what is printed? Art is a never-ending game in the world of Picasso.


PROJECT I: Paint a Cubist Style Self-Portrait

Three Versions of Maya with Boat, 1938

Here are three portraits Picasso made of his daughter, Maya. She looks like she’s having fun! Maybe it’s the candy colors of green, pink, blue and orange. Or the checked pattern of her dress which echoes the tile floor. In all three, she wears a ruffled collar and striped socks. In one, she holds a fairy wand, with hands that look like flowers. Can you see what she has in all three? Is she looking right at us? But her eyes are in two different spots….or is she looking from the side? Look carefully to the right –can you see her nose, and the dimple on her chin?

Material: paper, crayon


1. Create an outline of your body using simple shapes: circle, square, triangles, ovals, U- shapes. DON’T add in your face yet!

2. Think about the separate details of your body:

a. Eyes

b. Nose

c. Mouth

d. Chin

e. Ears

f. Hands, etc.

3. Put in each body part separately, imagining how it would look

a. from across the room (very small)

b. close up (very big!)

c. from the ceiling

d. from the floor

4. Add patterns to the floor or clothing

5. Leave background, or paint in with watercolors for an added layer of effect

Step back, admire your work, add any finishing touches—and you’re done!!!!!!!


PROJECT II: Picasso's Guitar Collage

Collage means “to stick” in French, and is basically a 3 dimensional picture. For Picasso, it was a way to show many different parts of the world all in one place. Picasso loved music, especially the Spanish guitar, so many of his works depict guitars. In this collage, he creates a cubist style guitar that has been separated into different parts: the two sides, the hole in the middle, the strings and the arm. But they are all done with different pieces of paper! Some are printed, some are drawn; some have patterns, some do not. But we can clearly see his guitar!

Materials: 1 8 x 12 piece of paper (any color), several other types of paper: plain, wrapping paper, newspaper, music sheets, etc. Also scissors and glue stick.


1. Assemble your musical instrument: guitar, piano, drums. Draw the shape on one piece of paper and cut out.

2. Using the same shape, cut in half (or another proportion) and trace that portion onto another piece of paper.

3. Assemble background using at least 3 pieces of cut paper and glue down.

4. Add the different pieces of paper that are the musical instrument and glue down.

5. Add your own DRAWN elements! This could be musical notes, the strings or buttons of an instrument, or patterns in the background.

Step back, admire your work, add any finishing touches—and you’re done!!!!!!!


Additional Resources:

988 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page