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Art Periods – Why Do Artists Have Them?

Every notable artist has a distinct style that you can spot across a room – you’d never mistake a Pollack for a Magritte as you wander the halls of the MOMA. Even so, an artist’s work drastically changes and evolves over the course of their lifetime.

Every Artist Has Art Periods

An artist’s hallmark style is usually produced during their most successful period, but it goes to show that an artist is influenced not only by trends favored by art collectors, but by their environment, controversies of their time, and their own inner joys and tribulations.

Art can be considered a form of journalism. If an artist’s work did not evolve, it would soon become unfit to reflect its creator’s perspective. Even when an artist finds success with one style or trend, they’re obligated to move forward, each painting or work of art influenced by the one preceding it. In other words, Leonardo Di Vinci would not have painted the Mona Lisa, at least, as we know it today, if he had not explored a delicate, feminine face in his La belle ferronnière and earlier works.

From Blue To Rose To Black

Pablo Picasso has a reputation for heavy periods. His career as an artist began in the 1890’s, when he was in his early teens. Though he’s known for his cubist and surrealist works, he created incredible, realistic and accurate paintings from a very young age.


Seated Womand and Three Bearded Heads Pablo Picasso
Seated Womand and Three Bearded Heads | Pablo Picasso


After his good friend Carlos Casagemas, a poet and an art student, committed suicide over a woman, Picasso’s work reflecting his state of mourning. His paintings took on muted, bluish hues that bored art collectors.

His subjects of choice became solitary prostitutes and destitute beggars. While few buyers wanted his depressing artwork in their home, he continued to produce these blue works for three years, causing him to be as penniless as his models.

In 1904, Picasso began a passionate and occasionally violent relationship with French model and artist Fernande Olivier, who tuned him in to French artwork. Picasso’s depression faded, and his solemn blues were soon replaced with upbeat pinks and oranges, his subjects, cheerful harlequins and graceful acrobats.

Following his Rose period, Picasso was exposed to African artwork imported into Parisian museums. The angular shapes in African paintings and masks fostered a revelation in Picasso that would birth his famous cubic style.

Evolution Birthed From Suppression

Portuguese artist Paula Rego is famous for her works that portray bold statements about feminine sexuality and suppression. Her figures are robust and strong-bodied, strikingly authentic in contrast to a more idealized, delicate female form.


Visiting Animals Paula Rego
Visiting Animals | Paula Rego


While Rego was in art school, her instructors insisted upon realism. Inspired by fellow student and future husband Victor Willing, Rego kept a secret sketchbook, where she drew in influence of surrealist works. In this sketchbook, her work took on the grotesque manner that she would stay true to for the rest of her career.

In 1990, Rego became the first Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London. Her only instructions were to work as she pleased, so she did. Rego’s abstract work tightened into semi-realistic female forms surrounded by sometimes unsettling subject matter – the forced circumcision of young girls, dysfunctional family relationships and distorted folktales.

While her artwork continues to feature realistic forms, her abstract period was crucial to her development. It’s the time in which she realized that she, and she alone, had full control over the voice of her artwork.

What Period Will Your Printed Edition Immortalize?

When you choose a print from our gallery, take into consideration not only the ink, but also the moment in time and period that produced the work.