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Pablo Picasso and sister Lola, 1888. (What’s up with the haircut, Pablo?)
Spanish painter Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) could draw before he could walk. According to his mother, 
 

his first word was piz, short for the Spanish word lapiz, meaning pencil. 
“Pablito” asked for a pencil constantly and, once he got one in hand, would draw for hours, covering entire sheets of paper with countless spirals. (1)   

   

A Spanish "caracola" filled with candied fruit and iced with a confectioner's sugar glaze

In later interviews, Picasso revealed that his passion for spirals came from the caracolaor Spanish sticky bun, his favorite pastry. “Caracola” means “snail” in Spanish. Caracolas started with a single strip of dough wound tightly around the center, creating a spiraling snail-like design in the cake. Caracolas were served hot in the market stalls in Málaga, Spain, Picasso’s home for his first ten years.  

Pablo found artistic inspiration in nature as well as at the breakfast table. With Málaga situated on the Costa Del Sol, Pablo would walk on the beach with his father, finding dazzling variety in the shells washing up on the Mediterranean shore.     

Málaga, Spain

There were so many patterns, he discovered, spiralling and more!  

 
 

Shells found on a beach in Málaga, Spain, Pablo Picasso's birthplace. 2010

Pablo was entranced. From a young age, Pablo became a voracious collector of seashells as well as peach pits, pebbles, cherry stems, and leaves.   

Picasso grew up and became very famous, but he never lost his early love for spirals and curvy, coiling lines. 

 
 
 

Picasso Draws a Centaur, 1949

As an adult artist, he used spirals over and over again in his drawing and painting.  

An undated Picasso line drawing of a Harlequin. image from book, Pablo Picasso, by Ernest Raboff)

"Two Dressed Models and a Sculpture of a Head" by Pablo Picasso, 1933. Notice the cascade of spiraling vines on all 3 heads.

 Often Picasso’s predilection for curves and spirals would show up in his paintings of women’s breasts. (3)     

"Girl in Front of Mirror," by Pablo PIcasso, 1932

(1) McNeese, Tim. Pablo Picasso. New York: Chelsea House, 2006.      

(2) Lepscky, Ibi. Pablo Picasso. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1984.      

(3) Penrose, Roland. Picasso, His Life and Work. Berkeley: The University of California, Icon Editions, 1973.     

  

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