Picasso’s The Old Guitarist – Why Is It All Blue?

Picasso’s The Old Guitarist - Why Is It All Blue?

Anyone could be an artist, but what makes them unique and different from others? The Art!

The painting that gives them fame, depicts their talent, and brings new meanings to life is what makes a painter wholesome.

Who doesn’t know Pablo Picasso?

This name is enough to explain the amazing art that we will examine today.

He has numerous famous paintings attached to his name, which keeps him topped among the most famous Spanish artists of all time.

If you know Picasso, you may have come across his painting, “The Old Guitarist!” And there is a good amount of possibility that you must have judged the book by its cover.

It’s not just you; people on first look always get the idea that it’s pale, sad, and, of course, blue!

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But the meaning goes way beyond that.

How about focusing on the ins and outs of this famous painting by Picasso, which is more than just blue?

I. The Artist – Pablo Picasso

Image of famous painter Pablo Picasso with his one of the famous painting "Woman With Yellow Necklace" who also painted The Old Guitarist
Image: gagosian

“A man known for his works” is what Picasso is described as!

He not only made a huge difference with his paintings but also contributed to various art movements.

He switched styles which helped maintain longevity in the industry.

Picasso produced more than 50,000 artworks in his entire lifetime, which is remarkable!

One of the paintings that falls under the blue period was “The Old Guitarist.” 

A pale blue man with a guitar represents what?

II. The Art – The Old Guitarist

One of the famous painting by Picasso, "The Old Guitarist"
Image: wikimedia

Give a closer look at the painting. What exactly do you see?

All blue, right?

But did you notice one thing that didn’t match with the other shades? It was the guitar.

But why only that guitar? Let me give you Picasso’s perspective!

Picasso made this painting in his early 20s, while he was struggling, indigent, and helpless. 

The guitar here represents the only ray of hope he has in his mind that keeps him moving forward in life.

The old man composing music on the guitar keeps his hopes high of getting out of his awful situation.

Struggle has always been a part of life, especially when you have big dreams to catch.

This painting portrays the story of Picasso’s inner self, which he produced at the age of 20, by showing himself in his oldest form.

This makes the audience raise more questions!

III. The Blue Period

The shades of blue with the text "The Blue Period" that belongs to the painting The Old Guitarist
Image: amazon

The Blue Period, or should I say Picasso’s Blue Period?

Pablo Picasso created monochromatic paintings in the shade of blue or blue-green from 1900 to 1904.

As you know, there is always a reason behind the commencement of any period.

Who doesn’t have inspiration in their life? 

A famous painter like Pablo Picasso must also have been inspired by someone who led to the existence of this art period.

Let’s acknowledge his inspiration!

Picasso’s Inspiration Behind the Blue Period

With great success comes a string of setbacks.

In the beginning of the artist’s career, he faced a lot of struggle, poverty, and failure that impacted his artwork.

An experience of good as well as bad surely matters and will eventually help you grow in life.

The part that made this artwork a success was because of the feelings that Picasso incorporated into the art.

Pablo focuses on depicting emotions in his artwork, which is stated as the pioneer of the blue-period Picasso paintings.

He introduced this period when he was just 19 years old.

Now the answer to your question, “What inspired him to commence this art period?”

The answer is: death!

One of Picasso’s close friends, Carles Casagemas, shot himself in the middle of the party due to an incident with his lover.

After the sudden death of Casagemas, Pablo started painting in blue.

He brought the cold colors together, like dark gray, sad greens, and, of course, melancholy blue, to depict his emotions and sentiments.

The first painting of the blue period was created soon after the death of his friend, which is known as “The Death of Casagemas.”

IV. What made Picasso choose blue?

You can tell by just looking at the painting the amount of sad and pale energy it gives out. 

The color blue communicates the emotions and pain behind the artwork.

The subjects he chooses to depict during this period have their own struggles.

By using blue as the primary color, he conveys a message of vulnerability, poverty, loss, grief, and agony.

A person who is renowned for his work is also the same person who has seen a lot in his life, which eventually made his art a masterpiece.

The painting is a self-portrait that reveals the struggle of Picasso, the blue guitarist.

Apart from The Old Guitarist, Picasso’s  other works, like The Homeless Prostitute or The Drunkards, also fall into the same emotional category.

Now that you know what made him choose the color blue, how about The Old Guitarist’s analysis? Let’s dive into this topic!

V. Framework

What does art show? A man and a guitar!

As we discussed above, the guitar is the only element that has a color variation.

The brown color is an indication of Picasso the guitarist’s redemption from his poor state.

Instead of blue all over the painting, the man’s hope is depicted in a different way.

He believes that the music produced will save him from being beggarly and make him grow in his life.

Picasso carefully selected the old man to get a reaction from the viewer’s perspective.

If we observe the meaning behind this painting, Picasso used a brilliant way to show classism among the people.

A person who is poor continues to live in a state of poverty, whereas high-class society is living a lavish life.

It made the audience raise the question of classism in the community.

It is also believed that this painting from the Pablo Picasso blue period is inspired by the famous artwork “Hope” by George Frederic Wallace.

The Old Guitarist was inspired by famous painting, "Hope" by George Frederic Wallace.
“Hope” by George Frederic Wallace; Image: publicdelivery

A symbol brings more clarity to the artwork and makes you believe in the existence of hope.  

Keeping up with the topic, let’s give this area a shot!

VI. What does art signify?

What is the main subject of this painting? The old man, right?

But what does he represent?

As we know, this guitar art is a self-portrait of Picasso, who is struggling in his life.

Picasso symbolizes the old man in the painting with the living of most of the artists, who depend on their works as the only survival kit.

The isolation of artists around the world is questionable.

The Old Guitarist indicates the criticism that he received from society and the question about human existence, which is used metaphorically.

Since it is a  painting from Picasso blue period, it represents sorrow and grief.

The miserable tone of the art highlights the hardship that Picasso, as an artist, was struggling through.

The man portrays Pablo’s low standard of living at that time.

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Shapes and forms also play an important role in the creation of paintings.

It illuminates the main aspects and the perspective of the artist as a whole.

You know what our next analysis will be. Yes, it’s about color, forms, and aesthetics!

VII. A Closer Look at the Artwork

Color shades of the painting The Old Guitarist
Image: wikimedia

The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso is one of the most recognizable works from the Blue Period.

The painting being the most iconic Picasso art style, some of the finest details can be missed with the naked eye.

Here we have divided the artwork according to each texture, which will help you review the painting in the form it is shown.

a) Color

In spite of the simplicity that this painting carries, it is layered with various meanings.

Firstly, in this monochromatic painting, the left side depicts clear shades of blue, whereas if you shift towards the right side, it becomes dark and gloomy.

Splashing colors like blue, dark gray, and green on the canvas shows the crucial arrangements of the feeling the artist has.

With the obvious color scheme, the brown comes out as an exception, obtaining all the focus of the viewer’s eye.

The shades are a way of communicating directly with the audience.

It lets the viewer know about the thoughts the artist holds in his mind.

Picasso, as an artist, was aware of the choice of colors he made, which was a form of coldness in his life.

As we say, the color tells a story about the mood and emotion of the artist.

Pablo’s intentions to portray his feelings were successfully received by the viewers, which makes him remarkable as a painter.

b) Form

The expressionist movements explored emotions during that period of time.

The Old Guitarist’s description gives an overview of the artist’s knowledge and depth of understanding of the subject.

A simple layout gives this painting a sense of slow movement. 

Unlike his other works, this painting is so low-spirited that it gives the structure a different turn.

If you look closely, the feet of the old man create a big curve that complements the guitar.

The repetition of the forms and shapes gives the painting meaning, which was an eventual goal of Picasso.

The contrast effect is an addition for the viewer’s eye as it creates balance between the light and dark shades.

The head of the man is slightly tilted in a downward position, which depicts the misery he was suffering from.

Even some people feel that this artwork is a cropped piece, as the figure has a close up appearance.

His captive condition prevents him from moving from the position, which gives an idea about the man’s grief.

Picasso used every possible technique to make his sensations visible to the public.

c) Medium & Aesthetics

The Old Guitarist medium is an oil painting on canvas.

This piece of art is considered the foundation of Spanish traditional art.

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Picasso was highly influenced by Spanish art and style, which made him produce numerous paintings that revolve around the same culture.

The blue period shows the reflection of the golden age of Spanish art and he tried to reinvent the interpretation of the Spanish masters in “The Old Guitarist.” 

Incorporating figures of the poor as a grand artistic gesture was common in old-age tradition.

Some people portray them as the main subjects in order to spread awareness of their suffering.

The Old Guitarist highlights Picasso’s Spanish origins, which he follows.

Do you know why this old painting is a masterpiece?

It is because of the rich style of surrealism and symbolism that the painting incorporates.  He mainly produces surrealist paintings that give art a new meaning.

Picasso showcased his conscious mind in such a way that people were in awe!

Just an old man and a guitar made an unimaginable impact on the viewers, making them question.

The painting gives off an aesthetic appearance making it more authentic on the list of famous paintings.

It is also considered a haunting piece by Pablo Picasso that leaves chills down the viewer’s spine. 

VIII. Underneath the Painting

Collage of the painting The Old Guitarist and x-ray of the Old Guitarist
Image: singulart

Do you have any idea what this section is about?

Underneath the painting—as the title suggests, speaks about what lies beneath the artwork.

A painting that is full of mystery, assembled as a controversial artwork of that time.

If something isn’t visible to the naked eye, that doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

What is underneath “The Old Guitarist?”

Research revealed that there were two to three figures already incorporated before the actual old man took place.

In 2001, a few researchers discovered that there were some inconsistencies in the painting’s brushwork, prompting them to observe the art closely with infrared x-rays.

Eventually, ghostly figures were found in the painting.

One was the shadowy face of a woman above the guitarist, who was shown breastfeeding a child.

Another woman was also seen on the right side of the first woman.

Lastly, the cow figure was uncovered, where he was licking a calf under him.

Cow figures were common in Pablo Picasso’s paintings, which he layered with art.

But what could be the reason behind two paintings on a single canvas?

We know the poor condition Picasso was in. 

It is believed that Picasso was out of funds, which made him paint on the same canvas.

In any case, these paintings were considered the most haunting pieces of art.

XI. Recognition

The Old Guitarist painting exhibits in a museum.
Image: wikipedia

In what manner is a painting said to be renowned?

By their recognition, the accomplishments that they brought, and the badge of honor attached to them.

Picasso’s Old Guitarist is a prominent work of art that has to be viewed by the public as a whole rather than just being kept in someone’s private collection.

The painting is currently on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, where many admirers of art visit to get a glimpse of it. 

In experts’ opinion, the worth of this triumph is more than $100 million, but the “not for sale” tag makes the artwork count as priceless.

Apart from the reception, there are various aspects that you might not know about Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, which makes it more fascinating.

The main idea behind the artwork was to spread awareness about the poor and lower class society. 

In the end, an overwhelming amount of public attention was received by this artwork during that period of time.

With its simplicity and meaningful message, it won many hearts.

It represents human existence in depth, keeping in mind the modernist movement of expressionism.

Few have the courage to depict the reality of society, with Picasso being the famous surrealist artist who took a step forward to splash the veracity on the canvas.

Picasso was evidently not the first artist in the 19th century to depict something like that, but he definitely changed the concept of what we called beautiful artwork!

Hola People

Here we come to a beautiful end to this amazing blog, “Picasso’s The Old Guitarist – Why Is It All Blue?

I know you must have a few questions or suggestions about the blog.

Reach out to us via comments or write your personal insights about the blog at – [email protected].

I will be thrilled to read your thoughts about the blog.


What Was the Purpose of The Old Guitarist?

The painting express the feelings and human condition that the artist was suffering from.

Is The Old Guitarist Picasso Cubism?

No, the work doesn’t belong to Cubism, instead it is a work during The Blue period.

What is the medium of The Old Guitarist?

The Old Guitarist is oil on panel work by Picasso.

What is the size of The Old Guitarist?

The Old Guitarist measures 1.23 m x 83 cm.

How much is the original old guitarist?

The Old Guitarist value was more than 100 million dollars.

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