If there is genius in Picasso, I think this monochromatic painting from his Blue Period (1901 – 1904) is evidence of it. The way the various shades of blue brood. The way the head is bowed to reveal the sadness and moribundity of the man; his torn tunic, his bare feet and his open mouth are further evidence of his dereliction. Yet in spite of his circumstances, Picasso shows him holding the guitar upright. The fingers with which he plays the guitar are fine and delicate and graceful. The hands still work, though all else may be lost. This is where the beauty is in this painting, in the way he holds this guitar, this instrument of his art. I can stare at this painting for hours, because even though Picasso may not have, I see hope in it. And I believe that the man’s music, like Picasso’s art, will continue to live long after the man is gone.
THE OLD GUITARIST (1903) IS ON DISPLAY AT THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO.