Two great names. Two distinct genres. Both are gone in this world, but they are not forgotten– their art and legacy will live forever. Both Pablo Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci are considered to be creative geniuses despite the fact that they lived centuries apart from each other. Da Vinci lived during the Renaissance era while Picasso lived in the modern era. Thus, Da Vinci is referred to as one of the most skillful Old Master painters of his time, inventing various techniques such as sfumato. He also mastered realism, proportion, balance, ratio, and anatomy. On the other hand, Picasso is known for his obscure paintings with no signs of realistic human proportions. He is also known to be the co-founder of the cubism art movement, a predecessor to abstract art. Despite their overwhelming similarities, looking at their works of art will make you wonder how different they are to each other. So, to enlighten you regarding this matter, this article will focus on answering the question most asked by many artists: what are the main differences between Pablo Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci? Come and join us in this discussion by reading the article!
Da Vinci and Picasso lived in different times with different art styles prominent during their era. The two creative geniuses lived almost four centuries apart. The first artist lived at the beginning of the Renaissance, while the second one was long after the industrial revolution, when wireless technology in the shape of TV and radio altered the way we function as a society. Da Vinci had little resources to teach himself how to paint so he created his own methods--he studied anatomy, science, and math to make his paintings as realistic as possible. Meanwhile, Picasso was more experimental– throughout his art career, his styles and techniques were dynamic, transitioning from one style to another; his art kept moving.
Who are Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso?
Before we get into the main differences between Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso, let's have a brief overview of who they are as artists so that you can get to know them better.
Leonardo da Vinci
He was one of the most prominent Renaissance men of his era, competing with his contemporaries and rivals such as Michaelangelo and a recognized perfectionist who spent a significant amount of time studying human anatomy, specifically how human bodies moved, were constructed, and shaped, and how the body moved through gestures in social interaction and communication, as well as their methods of facial expression. An exhausting task, to be sure, and this may explain why there are so few completed works despite an unusually enormous library of drawings created in precise detail, as well as cartoons that served as full-scale preliminary drawings for paintings. These sketches demonstrate not just his unrivaled command of observation, but also this artist's ability to perceive and depict human beings and emotions.
Pablo Picasso was the most important and dominant artist of the first half of the twentieth century. He is most known for co-inventing Cubism with Georges Braque, but he also pioneered collage and made significant contributions to the Surrealism and Symbolism art movements. He viewed himself as primarily a painter, although his sculpture was highly important, and he also experimented with printing and ceramics. Picasso had an interdisciplinary approach to style, and while his work was typically defined by a single dominating approach at any one moment, he frequently moved fluidly between multiple styles - sometimes even within the same work of art. Picasso was always keen to establish his name in art history, and some of his most famous pieces, such as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), allude to a variety of previous works of arts - even while deconstructing them. As he grew older, he became increasingly concerned with ensuring his reputation, and his latter work was distinguished by a candid discussion with Old Masters such as Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Goya.
Picasso produced more artworks than Da Vinci did:
Did you know despite the fact that Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is the most renowned painting in the world, he only created about 30 paintings in total? Other than paintings, however, Da Vinci also created several inventions, sketches, drawings. He also busied himself teaching his apprentices and making "anatomy" books to master his skills which explains why some of his paintings were left unfinished, even back then. Picasso, on the other hand, produced approximately 2,000 paintings, as well as sculptures, sketches, pottery, and hand-pulled prints, totaling over 50,000 pieces of art. One explanation for such a big gap in the amount of artworks created is that they lived in different eras where society functioned differently. Artists did not have the luxury of making art for the sake of creating it while Leonardo was alive. Instead, they were hired by churches, guilds, and rich clients to make artworks centered on portraiture, religion, and historical events.
The world had changed by the era Picasso was born, centuries after da Vinci's death. Painters had more flexibility to paint anything they chose than ever before. Artistic self-expression was more universally recognized and anticipated. Rather than being focused on commissions, most paintings were sold in galleries to individual buyers as money flowed more freely across society than during the Renaissance.
Da Vinci focused more on aestheticism more than Picasso did:
The main difference between the two is their art style which can be seen just by observing their works of art. If you look closely, one was among the new approaches to perceiving and depicting "objective realism" in art. Da Vinci valued the traditional and conventional while embracing and incorporating Christian values in his art. The other contributed to the development of new methods of interrogating the surface of ordinary items and other people as objects— Picasso was more unconventional and rebellious. Picasso was more lyrical, whereas Leonardo was more philosophical. The Renaissance emphasized elegance, but the early twentieth century needed intense expression of emotions. These different eras– one being for realism while the other for abstraction, describe the central theme of the two painters. Da Vinci was more into creating harmony, balance, and proportion which was contrary to Picasso as the painter was more expressive through obscure gestures and symbolisms.
While Da Vinci used traditional techniques such as “The Golden Ratio,” sfumato, iteration, etc. to perfect his masterpiece, Picasso aspired to portray the whole composition of the world in his artworks without relying on techniques such as perspective and shadowing to achieve a realistic impression. Instead of portraying things as they appear, he sought to reveal them as they exist according to his subjective interpretation.
Regardless of their differences, both Pablo Picasso and Leonardo Da Vinci are true great painters that will continue to awe generations to come. Both of the artists were not just great in painting– they were also considered innovators and inventors during their time– Da Vinci was widely credited for different inventions and anatomical discoveries while Picasso was credited as one of the fathers of Cubism and collage. None is less of a great than the other as they have both established their names in the art world– they have changed the way we look and make art forever, and for the better.