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Woman with a Guitar, 1913

Pablo Picasso

Spanish, 1881-1973
Oil on canvas
39-5/8 x 32-1/8 in. (100 x 81.6 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
© 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On view

Cubism is arguably the most significant style of art in the twentieth century, and its biggest proponent, Pablo Picasso, its most significant artist. Under the influence of Paul Cézanne, Picasso and his colleague Georges Braque explored the formal properties of painting, primarily, the representation of the three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional picture plane. Their works, which juxtaposed flat areas of color against highly modeled surfaces, were simultaneously complex and playful—the back-and-forth between viewpoints and dimensions providing continuous artistic theatrics. In Woman with a Guitar the figure is delineated both by simple, black lines and by flat, planar forms. Her instrument is recognized by its curves and sound hole, while the background ranges from bare canvas to a near trompe-l’oeil (“fool the eye”) depiction of marble. The Cubists also explored the notion of multiple viewpoints, as evidenced here by the various curves and angles of the guitar as well as at least three silhouettes of the sitter’s profile.

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