Literature – The Old Guitarist

I have already done a thesis statement, it just needs a little improvement. Begin your paper with a statement of purpose/intention or a thesis statement or question. Your statement of intention is an important part of the paper. You will begin preparing this statement in a separate assignment earlier in the course. If you have questions please contact me. You may select an artwork in any medium: consider paintings, sculpture, prints, photography, decorative arts, even architecture and site-specific works, with my permission. Formal Analysis Visual Elements and the Principles of Design: In a visual analysis, first study the formal aspects of the work. Use the vocabulary from the visual elements and the principles of design to describe the composition. Form and Content: Analyze those things that you can learn by looking at the artwork. Discuss the medium and the artist′s process. Research Expand your understanding with scholarly research. Compile all the information in a complete study of the work. Consider all of the approaches for understanding and evaluating art that we learned in the course: Formal (see above) Contextual: historical, social, political, religious Biographical; Artistic in terms of other work by the artist, or related artists Iconographical Here are a few suggested questions that would be answered in an analysis: ● What does this piece look like? Describe fully its subject matter and appearance. Include information about the materials used in the work. Imagine that someone might have to replicate the artwork based solely on your desсrіption. What is your experience of the work? ● What is the historical context for the work? This would include when the work was made, where, and the culture from which it originated. Think about whether this work is unique in its culture or if it is indicative of its culture. ● Does your work of art have socio-political implications? Describe. ● What do we know about the artist? Biographical information is useful for interpretation of the work, as is looking at other artwork by the same artist. How is this work the same or different from other works by that artist? ● What was the artist’s process? How was the work made? ● How does the artist convey a message? Using vocabulary presented in class and your text, consider how visual elements, principles of design and content contribute to an over all theme. Requirements You can write about any artwork. However, obscure artwork or artwork not made by recognized artists may not yield enough research for you to reach the required length. In this case, you must place the work in context with other work by the same artist or the period in which it was produced. The paper must be 4-6 pp typed, double-spaced 12 pt. font, Times New Roman type face, double-spaced, 1” margins, with correct spelling and grammar. I am looking for substance, so please focus on solid content. Seven pages of fluff is not better than 5 pages of substantive content. Obviously, five pages of fluff will be graded accordingly! Carefully proofread your paper before submitting, or have someone else look at it to make sure it reads well and is logical in its organization. Images should be included but do not count as part of the pages. Grammar and spelling mistakes will lower your final grade. An MLA style works cited page with a minimum of five resources is required. Three of the sources must have been originally published in traditional print, (such as books and magazines). Carefully critique your sources. Do not use online sites such as Wikipedia, Artcyclopedia, and personal web pages or blogs as they are often not reliable. The Works Cited page should appear on the following page after your essay ends on its own page. Do not submit a separate document with the works cited. You must include it and the proof of visit with your paper in one document. For the final paper, drop the annotations from your bibliography. MLA style intext citations are required for the ideas or quotations of another. No quotation should cover more than 1/8 of a page. If you do not use intext citations on borrowed material, you are guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is grounds for instant failure. Please see the ECC library site and the information on our D2L course site and/or Intext Citations. Not properly citing an information source with an intext citation can appear to be plagiarism. If you are unsure – just ask a librarian or me, or make an appointment with The Write Place. MLA Guide: See Course Resources under the Content tab. OTHER: Page one of your paper must have the MLA heading, a photo of the work of art, and a bullet list identifying the artwork completely: Title Artist Medium Date Size



The first glance at the vacant dark street with an old man that seems to be holding a
guitar, drowning in sadness ready to weep in Pablo Picasso “The Old Guitarist” definitely
caught my attention. What would make the artist paint this deep message artwork? By doing
some research, I came across a fascinating detail that states that “The Old Guitarist” was painted
in 1903 after the suicidal death of Picasso’s close friend, Casagemas (Dillenberger and
Handley 4). During this time, the artist was sympathetic to the oppressed's plight and painted
many canvases depicting the miseries of the poor, the ill, and those cast out of society. “The Old
Guitarist” discloses Picasso’s criticism of society and human existence.
All the elements that are used in painting the old Guitarist are carefully selected and
applied to elicit feelings from the audience. in this line; the painting uses the monochromatic
colour scheme that develops a flat and a two-dimensional form that dissociates the subject in the
painting from the time and place ( The blue pallets create a melancholy tone
and raise a sorrowful theme through which the audience can learn about the Guitarist's story.
The piece was made in Madrid and used a distorted style that resembles El Greco's works. The
old Guitarist is one of the most iconic paintings that Picasso created in his career. An X-ray view
of the painting introduced the audience to something common in other paintings, a mysterious
image that lies beneath the Guitarist. This ghostly image is not clear and may not have been
intended to be in the painting (Dillenberger and Handley 12). The image represents a woman
who is probably sitting and fashionably holding her head as if Picasso was drawing a woman
with a model figure. Technical and historical analysis has identified that the woman’s image was
the original painting. However, when sadness struck Picasso, he decided to do away with the
image and express the sad mood that had overwhelmed him. The real question arises on why
Picasso did not do away with the woman image and start the old Guitarist on a fresh space?

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Maybe he intended to show the audience how sadness and the pathetic state of his life had
overpowered the good things in the society such as romantic relationships.
The painting was done during the blue period, and one can feel a great deal of sadness
from the painting. The blue period describes when Picasso had just renounced his classical
education and moved to Paris together with his friend Casagemas in search of fame. However,
the opposite of what they had hoped for happened, they struggled in poverty and Casagemas
turned hopeless after a failed relationship which led him to commit suicide (Daklit 16). The
combination of poverty and loss of a great friend drove Picasso into a state of sadness, and it is
during this period, he began the blue period that is estimated to have run from 1901 to 1904. The
painting consists of a melancholy tone that is made through the use of blue and other darker
colors (Ashton 5).
Picasso’s experience in poverty led him to be attached to the poor and the oppressed in
society. The image was a criticism of society's inequality through a depiction of the less
fortunate in society. The old guitarist body is used symbolically to pass the message to the
audience. The old Guitarist holds a big guitar that takes a big part of the painting (Dillenberger
and Handley 16).  The blind man seems to be playing the guitar despite his pitiful state. The
guitar is the only part of the brown drawing as the rest of the image is blueish. Symbolically, the
guitar represents the only hope for the old Guitarist to get something that day. He plays music
for the people on the street, and they give him money to survive on. However, the old Guitarist's
solitary state raises the emotions of the audience. to this end, one cannot fail to think of the fate
of the man who seems to be playing the guitar to an absent audience. If this state of affairs goes
on, the man may have to go home penniless and probably without food or a home (Daklit 28).
Symbolically, it shows that the poor kept doing their best despite their desperate situations in
life. He also seems to be oblivious to the poverty and blindness that affect him. The literature

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that dominated society when the painting was created involved blind characters who were
believed to have inner vision due to their lack of physical vision (Ashton 10). To this end, even
though the old man cannot see the world around him, he surely can see the reality around him,
which rhymes with the reality on the outside. He is alone and in misery and solitude is the only
thing that he feels both on the inside and the outside. The thin and skeleton-like figure of the
blind man has its roots in Spain, which was Picasso’s home country (The Art Institute of
The man’s body posture and figure indicate high levels of poverty and maybe
malnutrition. The upper body of the old guitarist upper body seems to be reclining on the wall.
His head is leaning to the front, and his legs are crossed to support the guitar that he is playing
(Dillenberger and Handley 18). The reclining body and the bending head indicate tiredness and
hopelessness that the old man is going through. It’s a sign that he is so weak that he can barely
hold his body in position. His hands and legs have sharp bones that can easily be seen which is a
sign of malnutrition. The clothing he wears is also torn on the shoulder, which is a further
indication of poverty (The Art Institute of Chicago).
Art is a medium of communication that artists use to communicate with society. The Old
Guitarist is one among the arts that Picasso created to create awareness about the ill, poor, and
other people who were struggling in society. For example, The Science of Charity is a painting
of a woman on her death bed (Daklit 40). Sick with an unknown disease, the woman looks weak,
but some people are around her. Two of them are holding her hands probably encouraging her
during the tough times. During this time, Picasso could not have had a rough time coming up
with the paintings as he had associated with lower-class for quite a while and understood their
situations pretty well. After his friend's death, Picasso spent time in low life where he lived with
prostitutes, beggars and others outcasted people in the society. He therefore associated well with

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them and came to learn about their problems and realised that these low-class people were also
human beings with needs. The old Guitarist among other 13 paintings in the Period of Picasso
narrates the different stories of the lower-class people in the society (Ashton 27). Additionally,
the desperate mood set in the old Guitarist helps display Picasso’s plight in life. For example, in
1902, Picasso spent the whole year jobless and almost penniless. The state of life that the older
man in the image has some similarities with the life that Picasso lived in 1902 and other periods
within the Blue period in his life.
In conclusion, the old Guitarist is a painting that creates a feeling of sadness in the
audience at first sight. The image is deemed the most iconic painting created by Picasso due to
its ability to deliver its theme in a simple image. The painting was done in 1903 when Picasso
was going through the blue period, which was when Picasso was going through physical and
emotional turmoil. The image uses blue to indicate this period, and the guitar is painted in brown
as a sign of the Oldman’s hope to earn a living. Through this image, Picasso communicated with
the audience on the poor's plight, which was also his plight. It, therefore, helps narrate the life of
Picasso in particular during the blue period. The painting also passes the message on inequality
and alienation of the poor in society. Despite the efforts that the poor put in life, the society
discriminates against them, and the extent of their poverty is worsened by the inner feeling of
loneliness and solitude.

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Works Cited

The Art Institute of Chicago. "The Old Guitarist." The Art Institute of Chicago, 2020, Accessed 16 Dec. 2020.
Ashton, Dore. Picasso on Art: A Selection of Views. Viking Adult, 2018.
Daklit. Notebook: Old guitarist painting medium college-ruled notebook 129 pages lined 7 X 10
in (17.78 X 25.4 CM). Independently Published, 2019.
Dillenberger, Jane, and John Handley. The Religious Art of Pablo Picasso. U of California
P, 2014. "The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso." 2020,
guitarist.jsp. Accessed 16 Dec. 2020.