artist has their own style and technique of painting through which they try to
express their feelings and emotions. Among them Pablo Picasso was one of the
greatest and the most influential artist of all time who used to express his
feelings and emotions through his paintings and other works of art. Picasso was born in Spain, on October 25,
1881. Since his childhood, Picasso was very good in art work because he was
interested in only drawing pictures rather than studying. He was not only the
painter, but was also a sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and stage designer,
that is why he was considered one of the recognized and unique artist of all
time as well as the creator of cubism. After he completed his study in 1901 he
went to Paris and started practicing new styles of art forms such as he did art
from the blue period, the rose period, African art style, cubism, surrealism
and realism. He mastered in all these styles and became the pioneer in each of
these movements. He continuously improved his style and was able to create his art
in all style which was prominent during the 20th century.
After moving to Paris, Picasso had to
go through several phases which affected him emotionally and mentally, when his
friend Carlos Casagemas committed suicide because of his miserable condition
and failed love affair. At that time Picasso was very poor and because of his
friend’s death made him depressed and desolate. These circumstances created so
much influence on Picasso’s life which aroused the ‘Blue Period’ and lasted
from 1901 to 1904. At this time, all of his paintings were dominated by the
shades of the blue color and in 1903 he completed his most famous paintings
from blue period which include, “Blue Nude”, “La Vie” and “The Old Guitarist”.
This painting by Pablo Picasso is an
oil painting on canvas. The size of the painting is 122.9 * 82.6 cm and is
currently located at “Art Institute of Chicago” (Bonnie).
The Old Guitarist was one of his most famous work of art through which he tried
to tell the stories of the world of the poor people like beggars, Street girls,
old and sick people, alcoholics, mother and children and miserable lovers. This
painting is an example of a silent painting which can be interpreted in
different ways as per the person’s point of view. Therefore, the blue period
represents the Pablo Picasso’s way of expressing his condition of being
helpless and depressed.
In this painting “The Old Guitarist”,
Picasso has worked with monochromatic blue shapes with a sorrowful theme of
miseries of the poor, the ill and his condition of being depressed and
loneliness. He used the monochromatic technique to make the viewers focus on
the story rather than the color. The painting consists of two objects as the
main focus of the painting: the old man and the guitar. The background of the
painting seems to be empty so the main focus goes on the old man holding his
guitar. In this painting we can see that he used blue color which is deep and
cold throughout the painting except the guitar which is shaded with brown color
and counteracts with the blue color. Similarly, muted color which is the
mixture of blue with black and white color symbolizes the emptiness in the old
man’s life. The different color used in guitar makes it the central focus in
the painting and symbolizes the only life source of the dying old man.
The old man whose physiques seem to
be slender, angular and elongated looks very poor because his clothes are turned.
Similarly, he looks much starved due to his thin body shape and hollow cheeks.
The old man’s closed eyes and facial expression looks as if he is dying
painfully. Though the old man looks very thin as his hands look bony and lanky,
he still looks muscular which indicates his life spent by doing labor. His
haunting facial expression looks like he is aware of his dying and the other
details like canyons and crevices in his face express the poverty of the old
Though the background of the
painting looks plain, the hands and the face of the old man covers most of the
areas in the painting. To show the old man’s scantiness and starvation, Picasso
made his body elongated and to make him look barely alive, his head is dangled
down. His arms also looks in an uncomfortable position because of his weakness
but they looks more strong than the face which illustrates the importance of
guitar to the old man and his experience of pain and suffering. Through this
painting, Picasso tried to convey the message to the viewers to relate
themselves with the real-life situations of the lower class people and how they
have to deal with life in order to survive.
If we look closely to this painting,
we can see the use of lines are more noticeable for the neck of the guitar and
for the window in the background. He has used the lines for separating the wall
and the floor. The window in the background looks unfinished so; we can use the
lines to extend the window to make it look complete. We can also use the lines
to extend the separation between the floor and the wall. Similarly, we can also
darken the line between the floor and the wall to make it more visible. Picasso
has used different values of blue throughout the painting which makes the
painting look very dark and dull. To make the old man look visible he has used
a lighter value of blue.
I think, the painting has limited
height and width as looking at a shape of the window and the old man and are
enclosed through lines. Similarly, Picasso has made the old man look
three-dimensional. Likewise, he has used forms to create the picture of old man
look alive and to make the body of the guitar look three dimensional. Picasso
implies space on the foreground where the old man is sitting by holding the
guitar and also implies space in the background of the window where the man is
sitting in front of. The negative space in the painting can be seen at the
window where the lines are unfinished.
Picasso has used balance as to give
the painting a feeling of sadness. Similarly, he has used the balance by
coloring the extended environment as blue color. As one side of the painting
doesn’t reflect the other and the two sides aren’t perfectly matching, the
painting seems to be asymmetrically balanced and to give the painting a sense
of realism. Picasso has used the emphasis by coloring the skin lighter than
environment. There is an absence of contrast in the painting as all the colors
are used evenly and are similar. We can see the unity on the painting as all
the elements used to create a theme of sadness and one main color that is blue
is used throughout the painting with different intensities and shades.
Likewise, there is not so much use of variety other than the old man who is the
centre of the painting and also the guitar the old man is holding is different
color from the rest of the paintings which gives the variety to the painting.
Picasso has used the proportion in the painting by making the old man sitting
down and playing the guitar larger than the normal man and also by making the
window smaller to show the old man is sitting in the front of it.
When looking closely to this painting it seems as there is another image
hidden behind the old man which signifies that the painting has been reused. It
does not look as Picasso intentionally placed any significance to the old man
because this is not the only painting in
which Picasso thought of reusing the painting rather than throwing away a
perfectly usable canvas. Therefore, we
can make many hypothesis themes from this work of art. After doing the research
on this painting I found that this creation of Picasso, The old Guitarist is
effective both emotionally and technically. His technique of using of using
color, simplicity and angles, helps the viewers to focus on the figures and
objects. Similarly, his use of value and form gives the painting more depth and
makes it look three-dimensional. The use of highlights and shading to the face
and hands of the old man draws the attention of every viewer and unlock the
visualization of the human experience. This single piece of painting expresses
the moment of frozen time through the old man holding the guitar and devoting
his last minute of life to his guitar. Hence, all the human experience is
captured in one frame of blue simplicity.