Picasso's Old Guitarist

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Pablo Picasso’s Old Guitarist
I visited the Art Institute of Chicago and many paintings and pieces of art caught my eye, but I almost lost my breath when I laid my eyes upon Picasso’s The Old Guitarist. I was a good thing that a bench is in front of the painting because I needed to sit down and admire the power that it exuded. The painting is one-dimensional, is flat, and doesn’t have a distinct background to it. It is done in a monochromatic color scheme and depicts a very thin, frail, blind man holding a guitar, which is brown and departs from the blue monochromatic color scheme, who is sitting cross legged and the upper half of his body is bent over. This man holds the guitar very close to him as if he didn’t have anything else in the world, which by the looks of him he is poor and might not have any possessions. The painting is part of the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection and is located in Gallery 391A. The Old Guitarist is an oil on canvas painting with the dimensions of 122.9 x 82.6 cm. Pablo Picasso is a Spanish painter and painted it in late 1903 to early 1904. The time period this painting was completed was of great importance because it marked the climax and the closing of Picasso’s blue period.

Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881 and passed away on April 8, 1973. Not only was he a Spanish painter, but he was a sculptor and draughtsman as well. He is one of the most recognized figures in 20th century art. Picasso’s father was an art instructor, so he was trained as an artist as a very young man. He left Spain and went to live in Paris, France. In France he had to struggle to figure where he fit into the society of artists there. Because he identified with those struggling to survive, he began to paint pictures of the downtrodden, depicting them in all of their misery and using different shades of blue – the color of melancholy. His personal sadness intensified due to the suicide death of his close friend, Casagemas. The period of 1901-1904 became known as the Blue Period. Les Miserables of the Blue Period gave way to the circus figures of the Rose Period which spanned from 1904-1906 and was much more cheerful then the Blue Period. Both the Blue and Rose Periods were precursors to Cubism, which defined much of Picasso’s career. Picasso became a power to be reckoned with in the world of modern art and continued to be an innovator of the highest order for the rest of his life.

Picasso’s Blue Period coincided with his own restlessness. From the time period of October 1900 and April 1904, he made four trips from Barcelona to Paris. In Barcelona he lived with his parents, but he saw Paris as an artistic mecca. He began his blue paintings in 1901 while in Paris and his morose period reached an all time high with the suicide death of Carlos Casagemas. He never attended the funeral, but he was so preoccupied with his death that he painted a series of canvases portraying his death, burial, and apotheosis. These paintings were sacred to him and he kept them in his own private collection. Many have said that Casagemas’s death brought out Picasso’s feelings over the loss of his younger sister Conception when he was fourteen years old. Picasso had immense feelings of guilt over her death and irrationally would blame himself for deaths of others close to him. His full-blown blue style developed at the end of 1901 and early 1902. He abandoned all other colors almost exclusively, no longer followed the brushwork techniques of Vincent van Gogh, and started painting in the technique of Paul Gauguin. Most of Picasso’s Blue Period artwork featured destitute women, alcoholics, and outcasts of society. The underlying theme of the Blue Period was accusing that the prosperous individuals of society allowed the poverty of others to continue and not extending a hand for those in need.

1903 is when Picasso’s Blue Period reached its height when he painted mournful family groups. The Tragedy is thought of as being the...
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