The Old Guitarist by Picasso: Meaning & Analysis

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  • 1:57 Old Guitarist
  • 3:00 Analysis & Meaning
  • 3:55 Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

In this lesson, we will examine the artistic life of Pablo Picasso. We will review the different stages of his art, particularly the Blue Period. From there, we will discuss and analyze his painting 'The Old Guitarist' and its meaning.

Pablo Picasso Artistic Biography

Pablo Picasso was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Picasso was born in Spain where he studied art from an early age. Frustrated with the material he was studying, Picasso would skip classes, wander around the city and paint what he observed: gypsies, prostitutes and beggars. In 1899, Picasso moved to Barcelona and started to spend more time with intellectuals and other artists. During this time, he changed from the method of art he was taught and started to experiment, developing the style for which he would later be known.

At the beginning of the 1900s, Picasso moved to Paris and began to paint what is now known as his Blue Period. Depressed by the death of his friend, Picasso painted scenes of poverty, isolation and anguish in different shades of blues and greens. It was during this time that he painted The Old Guitarist.

In 1905, Picasso's depression started to fade and he entered what is now known as his Rose Period. This period showed his improved mood and Picasso painted in much warmer colors, including beiges and pinks.

Picasso continued to paint throughout his lifetime, and his work continued to change. After the Rose Period, he is credited for starting cubism. In these paintings, objects are broken apart and reassembled in an abstract form. From there, Picasso entered his Classical Period, a time of somber reflection where he again showed more realistic subjects. Finally, from 1927 on, Picasso was part of the Surrealism movement. This movement worked to combine dreams and reality. Towards the end of his life, Picasso started to paint self-portraits and more simple techniques. Picasso died in 1973, but his art continues to be studied and is seen as revolutionary.

The Old Guitarist

As mentioned earlier, Picasso painted The Old Guitarist during his Blue Period. The Blue Period began as an inspiration of his travels through Spain, but was mostly influenced by the suicide of his friend in 1901. During this time, Picasso painted mostly in blues and greens and very somber subjects. Most of his paintings show poverty, beggars, the frail and the old. The overall feeling of his work at this time was sadness and loneliness.


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