Artist Stories

Photos of Famous Artists When They Were Kids

Dévra Taboada 5 June 2020 min Read

Sometimes it is hard to remember that famous artists were also children at one time, just like all of us. We have selected six of them for you to see how cute they were and to learn a little bit more about their lives!

1. Pablo Picasso

Our first famous artist as a child is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santíssima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (yes that is his whole name!). Today, however, he is known only as Pablo Picasso. He was born in Malaga, Spain, on October 25th, 1881.

He was the only son of José Ruíz Blasco and María Picasso López, but they also had two daughters. His father was Assistant Drawing Artist at the School of Fine Arts in Malaga and curator of the Municipal Museum of Malaga. Hence he always encouraged Pablo in his art education.

Pablo Picasso with his sister Lola Picasso
Photos of Famous Artists When They Were Kids: Picasso and his sister Lola, 1889. Source: Fundación Picasso.

It should be noted that Picasso started to draw with his father at a young age. In 1888, at the age of seven, he painted his first oil painting: Port of Malaga. Then, at the age of sixteen, he was admitted to Madrid's Real Academia de Bellas Artes! If you would like to learn more about his works made when he was young read "10 Early Picasso Works You Should Know".

Picasso Port of Malaga
Pablo Picasso, Port of Malaga, 1888. Muséo Picasso Málaga, Spain.

Picasso started his long and varied career when he moved to Paris in 1900. He created a huge variety of paintings and sculptures. He is most well known because of cubism, but he also had different periods before this which influenced and developed his studies around analytic and synthetic cubism. These include the color periods (Blue and Rose), African art, and Primitivism.

2. Tarsila do Amaral

Five years after the birth of Picasso, across the Atlantic Ocean, another talented child was born in 1886. This child went on to become one of the most important and famous artists in Brazil.

Tarsila Aguiar do Amaral was born on the September 1st, 1886. She was the first daughter of José Estanislau do Amaral Filho and Lídia Dias de Aguiar and she also had six brothers. Her family was rich, owning farms in the countryside of São Paulo.

Tarsila do Amalar with her sister Cecilia
Photos of Famous Artists When They Were Kids: Tarsila (on the right) and her sister Cecília, 1898, Source: Tarsila do Amaral.

As a result she received a very good education, especially considering that at the time women weren't educated to the same degree as men. Even so, she soon learned to speak French and about European culture by attending a catholic school in the capital of São Paulo.

Moreover, at the age of sixteen, her father sent her to complete her studies in Barcelona. This was something that was only accessible for the Brazilian bourgeoisie. While there she painted her first canvas: The Sacred Heart of Jesus, and start to show her abilities.

Tarsila do Amaral, Sacred Heart of Jesus, 1904. Private Collection. Source: Tarsila do Amaral.


During these years, Tarsila had the privilege of living in and touring different cities in Europe. Through this intimacy with the continent, she was heavily influenced by Surrealism and Cubism. As a result, she was responsible for bringing Modernism to Brazil. Surprisingly she wasn't part of the group responsible for the Semana de Arte Moderna, in 1922.

Tarsila's most known painting is Abaporú. This is a word from Tupi-Guarani (the most popular language among certain tribes of native Brazilians) meaning "cannibal". She had three main phases: Pau-Brasil, Antropofágica and Social.

Tarsila do Amaral, SÃO PAULO, 1924. Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. Source: Tarsila do Amaral.

This painting belongs to her Pau-Brasil phase and is the Vale do Anhangabaú in São Paulo. The city has been an important center of modernity in Brazil. Her artworks definitely influenced Brazilian culture and artists over the years. Thus expanding the potential of the local culture despite the difficulties of the coups d'état in the country. See also "Tarsila do Amaral: Joy Is the Decisive Test".

3. Salvador Dalí

Now let's return to Spain, precisely to Figueres, Catalonia. Here, on May 11th, 1904 Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domenech was born. He was the second child of Salvador Dalí y Cusi and Felipa Domenech Ferrés and was raised in a middle-class family. Tragically their first son passed away from a bout of gastroenteritis.

Dalí was given the same name as his brother which was a strange experience for a child. As a result he thought he was actually the improved reincarnation of his brother. When he was three his sister, Anna Maria, was born.

At twelve years old he began studying at the Municipal Drawing School at Figueres. In 1917, her father organized an exhibition in their house of his charcoal drawings. The following year, when he was just fourteen years old, he had a public exhibition at the Municipal Theater in Figueres!

Photos of Famous Artists When They Were Kids: Salvador Dali as a child c. 1906, Source:

In 1921 Dalí enrolled in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid where he met Buñuel and other artists. Later, in 1922 the first Surrealist group was formed with André Breton, Max ErnstMan Ray, and others.

Salvador Dali, Geopoliticus Child Watching the birth of a new man
Salvador Dalí, Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man, 1943. Salvador Dalí Museum - St. Petersburg, Florida, USA.

Dalí made a lot of works during his career and experimented with painting, sculptures, and also cinema! To learn more about the artist, check out "Watch Salvador Dali Interview From 1958".

4. Frida Kahlo

Now back to the Americas, this time to Coyocán, Mexico City. This is where our fourth artist was born on July 6th, 1907. Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón was the daughter of a German immigrant photographer, Guillermo Kahlo, and a Mexican woman, Matilde Gonzalez y Calderón.

When she was around six years old, she contracted polio. This caused her to be bullied a lot in the school because of a lesion on her foot. Consequently, at a very young age she - unintentionally - started to fight against some social rules at the time.

Therefore she didn't just do the easier exercises that doctors prescribed for her. She also took swimming classes (a sport only for boys) and wore pants to hide her lesion.

Frida Kahlo as a child
Photos of Famous Artists When They Were Kids: Frida Kahlo at age 4 in 1911. Source: Fubiz.

Between 1922 and 1925 she studied at Nation Preparatory School of the Federal District of Mexico where she learned drawing and model making. Around eighteen years of age she studied gravure with Fernando Fernandez.

The Accident and Career

In September of 1925, a bus accident changed her life forever. It caused severe injuries to her body from a pole that pierced her from stomach to pelvis. She had many operations and had to use corsets of different kinds and mechanical "stretching" systems. This accident also took away her ability to bear children, which was a strong wish of her's.

Long hours spent in convalescence made her start to paint with an easel adapted to her bed. This activity helped her to deal with her pain, and as a result, also developed her style.

In 1928 she met the painter Diego Riviera in the Mexican Communist Party and married him the following year. He influenced her to adopt simple colors in her works. Her involvement in the Party allowed her to travel many places and meet lots of influential people of the time.

Frida Kahlo, The Love Embrace of The universe, the eart, myself, diego and senor Xolotl
Frida Kahlo, The Love Embrace of the Universe,the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego and Señor Xolotl, 1949. Mexico. The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and The Vergel Foundation, Cuernavaca © Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, México D.F. by SIAE 2016.

Marxist, nationalist, feminist, and bisexual, Frida Kahlo's paintings do not belong to the Surrealist movement, because they are the representation of her reality. Her works are intense and invoke the autonomy of peoples, the end of tyranny, and the subjugation of the oppressed. To learn more about her work read "Kahlo And The Symbolism In Her Art".

5. Remedios Varo

One year after Kahlo, María de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga was born on December 16th, 1908, in the city of Anglès, Spain. Daughter of Rodrigo Varo y Zajalvo and Ignacia Uranga Bergareche, she had one older brother and her parents had lost one daughter before her. (This is why she was given the name of a Christian saint, Remedios.)

Her father was a hydraulic engineer and her mother was a devout Catholic. As a result of her mother's beliefs, she studied at a Catholic school but she loved to read books of adventure and science (her father encouraged her interest in reading). Also, he often asked her to copy technical plans and architectural diagrams of his works, whereby she started to develop her interest in art.

Remedios Varo and her brother Rodrigo
Photos of famous artists when they were kids: Remedios Varo and her brother Rodrigo on La Concha beach, where they usually spent their summers with their mother's family. Source: Cabra en el Recuerdo.


At the age of twelve, she made a painting of her grandmother. Later, at just fifteen years old, she was admitted to Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. This is the same academy that Dalí and other famous artists had studied at. At that time very few women were allowed into art school.

Due to political unrest in Spain she twice moved to Paris. The first time was in 1931 with her first husband Gerardo Lizárraga, and the second time in 1937 with the poet Benjamin Péret (a close friend of André Breton) who later became a romantic partner.

Even though she lived a bohemian life and was part of the group of Surrealist artists, it was hard for a woman to be accepted in the artistic milieu and her works weren't taken seriously in Paris.

Remedios Varo, Born Again.
Remedios Varo, Born Again, 1960. Private collection. Source: WikiArt.

In 1941 that she was forced to move to Mexico with Péret, after both were imprisoned for political activity. She was Anarchist, Surrealist, and superstitious. With this in mind, she studied science, psychology, sacred geometry, the I Ching, and the mystical works of George Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, and Meister Eckhart, which influenced the style of her work.

While in Mexico she developed most of her works compared to her time in Paris. This is where she finally received the recognition she deserved. Remedios also worked on a lot of things related to art, such as commercial design and costume design for a ballet company.

6. Andy Warhol

Our final artist, Andrew Warhola, was born in August 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Czechoslovakian immigrants Ondrej and Ulja, he had two brothers, and grew up in a working-class neighborhood.

As a young child, Warhol suffered from a nervous disorder that often kept him at home. During this time he developed a hobby of listening to the radio and collecting photos of movie stars. His poor health made him really close to his mother and she stimulated him artistically, giving to him his first camera.

Andy Warhol as a child
Photos of famous artists when they were kids: Andy Warhol in childhood, 1935. Source: Astrum People.

His father had passed away when Warhol was fourteen years old leaving the family with only enough money for the children to attend university. In 1945 Warhol started his studies in design at the University of Carnegie Mellon. Later, he moved to New York at the age of twenty-one, and in 1949 he started to work for popular magazines such as Vogue and The New Yorker.

The following year he decided to dedicate his career to art and changed his name to Warhol, as we know him today. Thus, he became an artist, film director, producer, and is the leading figure of Pop Art. He was an eccentric person, Catholic, and gay assumed, fashion illustrator, and writer. His works are really important because they revolutionized art with new ways of expression in a world already filled with commercial products.

Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans, 1962. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.

If you are interested in PopArt, check out "The Story of Velvet Underground & Nico Andy Warhol Cover"

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