Critical Essay #2- Pablo Picasso


Pablo Picasso is a famous artist who paints from imagination. I went to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth when I was home for Thanksgiving break and got to see some amazing paintings done by him. The Art Institute of Chicago let Kimbell borrow the Picasso exhibition, which I found pretty neat. Seeing Picasso’s actual works was an experience since he is so well known. One painting in particular stood out to me called “The Old Guitarist” because of the color scheme, contrast, texture, lines and spacing.

While sticking to the same color, he uses different values and saturations of blue. Using only one color is difficult for most because it can often turn out boring but Picasso used enough variety of the same color, whether it be light or dark to make it interesting for us to look at. He uses contrast within the man’s neck to show his age and also to show how he was straining his neck, giving the assumption that he’s focused on his guitar playing. The shadows that he uses make the man look like he is sitting in a dark and lonely room. Since the left side of the man’s face and body is lighter than the rest it makes it look like there is a light shining on him. I interpret the light and dark as an expression of there being hope even in a dark and empty world.

Picasso also uses the shadows in the old man’s shirt to create an implied texture of fabric. We obviously know that if we were to touch this painting there would be no feeling of soft clothing but when we look at this painting we can tell that his gown is made of fabric. Since the fabric has a tear in the shoulder it also gives us an idea of how poor the man is. He even makes his fingers extra long and skinny, which we interpret as being poor or even homeless. Picasso also does a good job using tone to create wrinkles in the face and neck, which gives us an implied texture of rough skin.

Picasso created implied line when he painted the man’s head facing the floor looking down at his knees and we follow that line with our eyes even though it isn’t there. There are also horizontal and vertical lines to follow in the background, which almost put his head into a frame, drawing our eye to his face. The placement and position of the man’s body is thought provoking as well because it makes him look helpless. We follow his body, which curves around and brings our eyes to the center of the picture. He puts emphasis on the guitar by choosing to make it a different color than the rest of the painting and also placing it in the middle, making it our focal point.

The most interesting thing about this painting is the way he uses space. If the man’s head were not tilted it would create an imbalance. Picasso arranges his arms in a way that makes our eyes follow the entire guitar, which extends from the bottom of the painting all the way to the top. I really like this painting because it is simple yet interesting.