Everyartist has their own style and technique of painting through which they try toexpress their feelings and emotions. Among them Pablo Picasso was one of thegreatest and the most influential artist of all time who used to express hisfeelings 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 wasinterested in only drawing pictures rather than studying. He was not only thepainter, but was also a sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and stage designer,that is why he was considered one of the recognized and unique artist of alltime as well as the creator of cubism.
After he completed his study in 1901 hewent to Paris and started practicing new styles of art forms such as he did artfrom the blue period, the rose period, African art style, cubism, surrealismand realism. He mastered in all these styles and became the pioneer in each ofthese movements. He continuously improved his style and was able to create his artin all style which was prominent during the 20th century. After moving to Paris, Picasso had togo through several phases which affected him emotionally and mentally, when hisfriend Carlos Casagemas committed suicide because of his miserable conditionand failed love affair. At that time Picasso was very poor and because of hisfriend’s death made him depressed and desolate.
These circumstances created somuch influence on Picasso’s life which aroused the ‘Blue Period’ and lastedfrom 1901 to 1904. At this time, all of his paintings were dominated by theshades of the blue color and in 1903 he completed his most famous paintingsfrom blue period which include, “Blue Nude”, “La Vie” and “The Old Guitarist”. This painting by Pablo Picasso is anoil painting on canvas. The size of the painting is 122.9 * 82.6 cm and iscurrently located at “Art Institute of Chicago” (Bonnie).
The Old Guitarist was one of his most famous work of art through which he triedto 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. Thispainting is an example of a silent painting which can be interpreted indifferent ways as per the person’s point of view. Therefore, the blue periodrepresents the Pablo Picasso’s way of expressing his condition of beinghelpless and depressed. In this painting “The Old Guitarist”,Picasso has worked with monochromatic blue shapes with a sorrowful theme ofmiseries of the poor, the ill and his condition of being depressed andloneliness. He used the monochromatic technique to make the viewers focus onthe story rather than the color.
The painting consists of two objects as themain focus of the painting: the old man and the guitar. The background of thepainting seems to be empty so the main focus goes on the old man holding hisguitar. In this painting we can see that he used blue color which is deep andcold throughout the painting except the guitar which is shaded with brown colorand counteracts with the blue color. Similarly, muted color which is themixture of blue with black and white color symbolizes the emptiness in the oldman’s life. The different color used in guitar makes it the central focus inthe painting and symbolizes the only life source of the dying old man.
The old man whose physiques seem tobe 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 dyingpainfully. 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. Hishaunting facial expression looks like he is aware of his dying and the otherdetails like canyons and crevices in his face express the poverty of the oldman. Though the background of thepainting looks plain, the hands and the face of the old man covers most of theareas in the painting.
To show the old man’s scantiness and starvation, Picassomade his body elongated and to make him look barely alive, his head is dangleddown. His arms also looks in an uncomfortable position because of his weaknessbut they looks more strong than the face which illustrates the importance ofguitar to the old man and his experience of pain and suffering. Through thispainting, Picasso tried to convey the message to the viewers to relatethemselves with the real-life situations of the lower class people and how theyhave 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 andfor the window in the background.
He has used the lines for separating the walland the floor. The window in the background looks unfinished so; we can use thelines to extend the window to make it look complete. We can also use the linesto extend the separation between the floor and the wall. Similarly, we can alsodarken the line between the floor and the wall to make it more visible. Picassohas used different values of blue throughout the painting which makes thepainting look very dark and dull. To make the old man look visible he has useda lighter value of blue. I think, the painting has limitedheight and width as looking at a shape of the window and the old man and areenclosed through lines. Similarly, Picasso has made the old man lookthree-dimensional.
Likewise, he has used forms to create the picture of old manlook alive and to make the body of the guitar look three dimensional. Picassoimplies space on the foreground where the old man is sitting by holding theguitar and also implies space in the background of the window where the man issitting in front of. The negative space in the painting can be seen at thewindow where the lines are unfinished. Picasso has used balance as to givethe painting a feeling of sadness. Similarly, he has used the balance bycoloring the extended environment as blue color. As one side of the paintingdoesn’t reflect the other and the two sides aren’t perfectly matching, thepainting seems to be asymmetrically balanced and to give the painting a senseof realism.
Picasso has used the emphasis by coloring the skin lighter thanenvironment. There is an absence of contrast in the painting as all the colorsare used evenly and are similar. We can see the unity on the painting as allthe elements used to create a theme of sadness and one main color that is blueis 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 thecentre of the painting and also the guitar the old man is holding is differentcolor 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 sittingdown and playing the guitar larger than the normal man and also by making thewindow 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 imagehidden behind the old man which signifies that the painting has been reused. Itdoes not look as Picasso intentionally placed any significance to the old manbecause this is not the only painting inwhich Picasso thought of reusing the painting rather than throwing away aperfectly usable canvas. Therefore, wecan make many hypothesis themes from this work of art. After doing the researchon this painting I found that this creation of Picasso, The old Guitarist iseffective both emotionally and technically.
His technique of using of usingcolor, simplicity and angles, helps the viewers to focus on the figures andobjects. Similarly, his use of value and form gives the painting more depth andmakes it look three-dimensional. The use of highlights and shading to the faceand hands of the old man draws the attention of every viewer and unlock thevisualization of the human experience.
This single piece of painting expressesthe moment of frozen time through the old man holding the guitar and devotinghis last minute of life to his guitar. Hence, all the human experience iscaptured in one frame of blue simplicity.