The Story of Picasso’s Bulls & MALAGA BIKE

It’s difficult not to associate the name of Picasso with bulls and to bulls with Spain.

Naturally, living in the city where the most famous artist of the 20th century was born must have rubbed off on me somehow.

Here’s how our unique bull-bike logo came into existence.

Green bullbike logo Malaga Bike
MALAGA BIKE’S BULL-BIKE LOGO

Every business needs a defining logo and it’s not easy to get it right, believe me. 

When I started the business in 2008, the first logo I had was a cartoony, digital design of a chica on a bike. 

It was cute but it just didn’t emit MALAGA. I needed something that conveyed our original, sustainable activity and something that said Spain, and more particularly, Málaga. 

And what is more Spanish than the symbol of the bull? Of course, that symbol became even more associated with this country due to the work of the most famous artist of the 20th century- Pablo Picasso. 

Pablo Picasso- Málaga’s first son!

And did you know that Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga in 1881?  In fact, he lived here until he was 10 years old. Interestingly enough, his father was a painting teacher. Unfortunately, tough economic times hit and the family had to move away for a position his father got in Galicia in the north of Spain. 

Well, the weather in the north of Spain is pretty much like the weather is most northern European countries- grey and wet. Picasso described his time there as one of the most depressing periods of his life. Obviously, he missed the light and colours of his native Málaga and Andalusia. And of course, the customs of this area too. As a child, Picasso went to many ‘corridas’, bull fights, with his father. These early influences clearly impacted Picasso’s artwork for years to come. 

Anyhow, back to MALAGA BIKE! 

Picasso lives in Málaga!

I obviously had Picasso on my mind when I first started the business. Thinking of images to use in marketing the business, I spent a lot of time looking for a photo of Picasso on a bike.  However, I had no luck. Until, that is, I found MY very own Picasso!

MY FRIEND PICASSO ON A MALAGA BIKE BICICLETA
MY FRIEND PICASSO ON ONE OF OUR FIRST BIKES IN 2008!

Meet Jaime, Picasso’s double! He was very happy to stand in for the real Picasso and let me take his photo on one of our first bikes. 

And that was the start of a long ‘cariñoso’ relationship with MY Picasso. For years now, while on our guided city bike tours, Jaime Picasso has delighted many of our customers posing for photos as his ‘alter-ego’.

A collage of some of the many of our bike tour customers having their photo taken with MY Picasso.
Just a few of the many of our bike tour customers having their photo taken with MY Picasso.

Just recently I bumped into MY Picasso looking as well as ever. Of course, I was very relieved to see that he had survived the COVID pandemic. He proudly told me that he was now 90-AND-A-HALF years old! 

Even though I could never find a photo of the real Picasso on a bike, we do know that the man himself was artistically inspired by a bike, or at least, bike parts at some point in his life, Initially greeted with controversy as a piece of art, Picasso’s bull-head sculpture became world-famous.

Picasso's bull's head sculpture made from a bicycle seat and handlebars.
Picasso’s bull’s head sculpture made from a bicycle seat and handlebars.

Of this piece of ‘found’ art, Picasso said: If you were only to see the bull’s head and not the bicycle seat and handlebars that form it, the sculpture would lose some of its impact. 

I think it’s clear that Picasso DID like bikes. 

So in the end, it was clear to me the direction to take for the logo of MALAGA BIKE. 

I decided to ask good friend and artist, Enrique Linaza, to design the logo. I did my best to explain to him what I wanted my logo to say and….Olé! The bull bike was born! I love the fact that it is hand-drawn and not computer generated. It says bikes, Malaga, Spain! Enrique encaptured the Picassiano style perfectly.  It’s simple and abstract and yet realistic at the same time….just as, we like to think,  were Picasso’s bulls. 

We recently revamped the original bull bike logo and our company colours. Our bull bike is now green, just as green as cycling is! And what better, GREEN way to discover this wonderful city than on one of our rental bikes. Explore every corner following our tried and tested bike routes.

Some of our staff inside the MALAGA BIKE shop and  our neon bull bike sign
Inside the MALAGA BIKE shop and our neon bull bike sign

And now all of our bikes and helmets proudly carry stickers with our happy new logo on.

 MALAGA BIKE bull-bike stickers on our bikes and helmets
MALAGA BIKE bull-bike stickers on our bikes and helmets

And if you tag our bikes on social media @malagabiketours, you will become the proud owner of a MALAGA BIKE bull-bike magnet.  A souvenir to always remind you of your great cycling experience in the marvelous Málaga of Pablo Picasso.

Drawing by Picasso of a bull with angel's wings
Drawing by Picasso of a bull with angel’s wings

“Los toros son ángeles que llevan cuernos” – Picasso

Picasso made this drawing for his bullfighter friend, Pablo Lalanda, in 1953. It says: Bulls are angels with wings”.  

And our bikes will give YOU wings to discover the light, colour and passion that Picasso inherited from this enchanting city. 

We look forward to seeing you at the MALAGA BIKE shop. Oh, and while you are there, don’t forget to say HOLA  to Pablito- our bull-bike mascot. 

The MALAGA BIKE mascot- Pablito!
The MALAGA BIKE mascot- Pablito!

Read on for some more interesting anecdotes about Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso

Yes! ladies and gentlemen, that  is the complete name of the artist known as Picasso. 

Why did Picasso have so many names? 

It is a very old Spanish tradition to have a lot of Christian names. Actually, it all dates back to the times of the Spanish Inquisition.  The Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand, brought the Conquest of what we know as Spain today  to its fruition in 1481. They conquered the Moors who had been here for eight centuries. 

After the conquest, they rapidly went about Christianising the local population. Any Muslims or Jews that wanted to stay were obliged to convert to Catholicism. Naturally, most of them did. Shortly thereafter, the infamous Spanish Inquisition was installed to root out heretics.

The Inquisitors looked for ‘converted’ jews and muslims who were still secretly practising their faith. So, having so many Christian names was one way to prove that you weren’t a Jew or a Muslim. Hey- look at all my CHRISTIAN names!! 

Obviously, the custom has continued over the centuries. Picasso’s parents said that they named him after male family members, a few saints and illustrious members of society of the time.

According to Spanish tradition, everyone has two surnames: their mother and their father’s. On a daily basis, they generally only use the father’s surname. Ruiz was Picasso’s father’s surname. Therefore, Picasso should have been known as Pablo Ruiz. However, in Spanish that would be the equivalent of Paul Smith in English. Obviously, Picasso knew he was bound for great things. So, he decided to take his mother’s name, Picasso, which was of Italian origin. It definitely has more of an unusual and artistic ring to it! 

As a young man Picasso lived in Barcelona and hung out with famous people like Salvador Dali, Joan Miró, Gaudí. Then he lived in France for the rest of his life.  After the civil war in Spain, he said that he would never come back to Spain until there was a democracy. However, Picasso died in 1973 and Franco, the dictator, and therefore no democracy, died in 1975- so he never came back. 

Where did Picasso live in Málaga? 

Even though Picasso only lived here until he was 10, whenever anybody asked him where he was from, even until the day he died, he always said that he was from …

Are you thinking Málaga? Well, yes- and no. He always said that he was from EL BARRIO DE CHUPA Y TIRA.  Pablo Picasso was from THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF SUCK AND THROW. Suck and throw what you might be asking?! Well, the REAL name of the neighbourhood is El BARRIO DE LA VICTORIA- the neighbourhood of the victory, named for the victory of the conquest. But here in Malaga, people like to give nick-names to everything, change the names, confuse the foreigners like me, so this is the nickname of this area.

Why? Well, in Picasso’s time, it was a middle-class neighbourhood and people were into keeping up appearances, dressing up, looking good, so they spent ALL of their money on buying the latest fashions but then they didn’t have enough money for food. So how did they eat? Well, the sea isn’t very far away. They used to go down to the beach and collect clams. And how do you eat clams? SUCK out the clam and then THROW away the shells! So, a neighbourhood full of finely, elegantly dressed people and rubbish bins full of clam shells.

And still today some of the old folks around here say that they live in the neighbourhood of suck and throw! I think it sounds much better in Spanish than it does in English!

Where is Picasso’s birth-house in Málaga? 

‘La Casa Natal de Picasso’- the house where Picasso was born is located in the Plaza de la Merced. This is the second biggest Plaza in Málaga and is the beginning of the aforementioned BARRIO DE LA VICTORIA. Picasso was born in the house on the north-west corner of Plaza de la Merced on October 25th 1881.

The attractive blocks of ochre flats with their green window shutters are known as Las Casas de Campos. Definately, they are a fine example of middle-class homes of 19th century Málaga. 

Where is the Picasso Museum in Málaga? 

El MPM- Museo Picasso Málaga is just a 5 minute walk from the house where Picasso was born. In fact, with the birth-house of Picasso and the Picasso museum, Málaga can claim to be the only city in the world with two Picasso Museums.

The museum was opened by the former King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain in 2003. The Palace of the BuenaVista, once belonging to the Count Buenavista, was renovated to house the Picasso Museum. The inauguration of this world-class museum was the impetus for the renaissance of Malaga in recent years. Above all, instrumental in Málaga’s transformation into a city of museums. At the time of writing there are around 40 museums. 

Outside of the Picasso Museum Malaga and a Malaga Bike Trekking bike
Picasso Museum Malaga and a Malaga Bike Trekking bike

Why did Picasso leave Málaga? 

As mentioned earlier, when Picasso was 10, he and his family left Málaga and moved to Galicia.  Picasso’s father lost his job as a painting teacher and could not find more work here. Therefore, they had to relocate to Galicia for work. They did come back now and again for summer holidays and to celebrate Christmas. 

 Later, Picasso’s father sent Pablo to study art in Madrid. Then, as a young man Pablo lived in Barcelona and hung out with famous people like Salvador Dali, Joan Miró, Gaudí along with other artists and poets. Their favourite hangout was the restaurant Les 4 Gats in Barcelona. The restaurant still exists today and one can easily imagine all of them sitting around debating and creating.

Picasso moved to France and lived there for the rest of his life.  After the civil war in Spain, he said that he would never come back to Spain until there was a democracy. Sadly, Picasso died in 1973 and Franco, the dictator, and therefore no democracy, died in 1975- so he never came back. 

Did Picasso maintain ties with Malaga and Spain?

Absolutely! In fact, whenever any of his friends went to visit him in France, they always took him a carafe of the famous Malaga Sweet Wine! 

Photo of a friend of  Pablo Picasso presenting him with Moscatel wine in France
Photo of Pablo Picasso with the famous flamenco dancer Antonio El Bailarín, who brought him a gift to France of a garrafa (jug) of Málaga Moscatel from Casa de Guardia in Málaga, by the famous Hungarian photographer Gyenes János (1912-1995), who went by the name of Juan Gyenes and frequently photographed Picasso and other celebrities.

You can see this famous photo in the oldest bodega bar in Malaga: La Antigua Casa de Guardia.

Clearly, Picasso kept social ties to Spain. As well, Pablo was quite a political figure. He said once that “Painting is not made to decorate apartments. It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.”

In fact, Franco’s regime referred to him as “Picasso, ni caso”. Basically meaning ignore Picasso. 

Picasso’s most political painting was his portrayal of the atrocities inflicted on the population of the northern Spanish town of Guernica by German and Italian bombers. The attack was at the request of Franco’s nationalists. Art critics have regarded the painting as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings ever created. 

Picasso's Guernica Painting
Picasso’s Guernica Painting

Picasso first exhibited the painting at the Paris International Exposition in 1937. Legend has it that a Nazi official visiting the exposition asked Picasso, “Did you do this?” And Picasso famously answered, “No, YOU did” 

It’s a powerful anecdote if it did happen. The truth is though that Picasso was very scared when the Germans invaded France. If they arrested him, they would have sent him back to Spain. For sure, the Franco regime would have more than executed Picasso. 

The Guernica painting went on tour internationally and all the money raised went towards the Spanish War Relief. The painting quickly became well-known and highly acclaimed. Naturally, it was instrumental in bringing world-wide attention to the Civil War in Spain. 

In 1968, (still in Franco’s time), a BBC journalist asked the director of the Modern Art Museum in Madrid why there were no works of Picasso in the Museum. He answered, “We don’t have any and we don’t want any!”

Incredibly, to even own a copy of the painting Guernica in Franco’s time was illegal. 

As early as 1968, Pablo had already made it clear that he wanted the painting to eventually have its home in Spain. This desire came with the condition that it could only happen once Spain became a Republic with “public liberties and democratic institutions”.

The painting came home to Spain in 1981. Since 1992, the Museo Reina Sofia has housed the work in a purpose-built gallery. As well, on display are many of Picasso’s preparatory works for the painting. 

If you are arriving to Malaga by train, you will be greeted by a copy of Guernica as you leave the train platform. 

How many works did Picasso create?

Picasso was a prolific artist and produced over 150,000 works.

All around the world there are museums and art collections dedicated to Picasso. Spanning 91 years and over 150,00 different works, Pablo worked incessantly. His works can be divided into distinct artistic phases throughout his life, such as the Blue Period and Cubism. Picasso loved to experiment. He was an artist in constant evolution.

What was baby Picasso’s first word?

Picasso’s first word was ‘lapiz’, which is Spanish for pencil.

Having inherited the artistic gene from his father who was a painter, it is not surprising then that his first word was one of the tools of his future trade.

In fact, Picasso’s father was his first art teacher. By the time Pablo was 14, his father admitted that his son was a better painter than he himself was. His father specialised in painting birds, mostly pigeons and doves. In later years, Picasso also painted doves. Famously, Picasso’s dove became a symbol for the peace movement and appeared on the poster of the World Peace Congress in Paris in April 1949. Pablo also named his fourth daughter PALOMA, the Spanish word for dove.

Picasso's drawing of a dove which became a symbol for the Peace Movement
Picasso’s drawing of a dove which became a symbol for the Peace Movement

What were Picasso’s last words?

In 1973, at a dinner party at his house in Mougins, France, Picasso said to his friends, “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore.” Then he went to bed and died in his sleep. It was April 9th, 1973. He was 91 years years.

Those last words were inspiration for Paul McCartney to write a song. The chorus of his song Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me) uses the final utterences of Picasso.

Thank you Picasso for continuing to inspire us!

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