The Old Guitarist Essay

Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 in an extremely chaotic era of time. The Industrial Revolution, Darwinism and Marxism ran society; these three factors affected art and created a new era called Modernism. Post- Impressionist and Symbolist artists influenced Picasso’s style most. The Symbolist ideals played a huge part and influenced Picasso’s painting The Old Guitarist. Symbolist artists preferred subjective and imaginative subjects; these subjects were usually adopted from the artist’s emotions, dreams and spirituality. Made in 1903, The Old Guitarist is an oil painting by Pablo Picasso.

The painting depicts a hunched over old blind man with torn clothing playing a guitar on the street.

At the time of The Old Guitarist’s creation a new movement called Expressionism emerged which influenced Picasso’s style as well. Picasso’s poor standard of living and the suicide of one of his closest friends influenced his style of art work into what is called his Blue Period. Picasso’s Blue Period lasted from 1901 to 1904 and expressed in flat blues, greys, blacks and a depressed setting.

The color scheme of The Old Guitarist eliminates light and the usual joy of Picasso’s changing of colors. It is flat, two-dimensional, and the blue color creates a tragic, dark and sorrowful theme, it is rather depressing to look at. Some say the only reason why Picasso’s Blue Period came along was because he could not afford any other colors, but that can be argued with.

The man depicted in the painting looks like he has no life, he looks to be homeless and may be close to death. He is trying to cover his misery and find comfort in his music. The large brown guitar is the center piece in this painting; it physically fills up most of the space on this canvas. It is the focus piece of the guitarist and the viewers. The guitar is also the only change in color; the guitar has a change of color into a dull brown rather than blue like the rest of the painting. The guitar is the man’s only hope for survival, if he is indeed homeless that guitar may be all he has to make money for food and other necessities in life. Music is a way to express emotion; the man shares his loneliness with other through playing music.

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