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Pablo Picasso 1881-1973 BACK


The Old Guitarist
1903
oil on panel 123x83cm
Art Institute of Chicago


Old Guitarist
© Image courtesy of Printfinders


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Pablo Picasso dominated the development of the visual arts during the first half of the 20th century. Along with Georges Braque, Picasso is best known as one of the creators of Cubism, though he utilized many styles during his career. In the paintings of his Blue Period (1901-1904), such as The Old Guitarist, Picasso worked with a monochromatic palette, flattened forms, and tragic, sorrowful themes.

The tragic themes and expressive style of Picasso's Blue Period began after a close friend committed suicide in Paris. During this time, the artist was sympathetic to the plight of the downtrodden and painted many canvases depicting the miseries of the poor, the ill, and those cast out of society. He too knew what it was like to be impoverished, having been nearly penniless during all of 1902.

This bent and sightless man holds close to him a large, round guitar. Its brown body represents the painting’s only shift in color. Both physically and symbolically, the instrument fills the space around the solitary figure, who seems oblivious to his blindness and poverty as he plays. At the time the painting was made, literature of the Symbolist movement included blind characters who possessed powers of inner vision. The thin, skeletonlike figure of the blind musician also has roots in art from Picasso’s native country, Spain. The old man’s elongated limbs and cramped, angular posture recall the figures of the great 16th-century artist El Greco.



This listing of artists is not official. It is merely intended to group the artists in an easy to navigate format.

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