This work shows Picasso’s continued fascination and experimentation with the image of the guitar. Picasso embraced the image of the traditional Spanish instrument very early on in his career, painting 'The Old Guitarist', which is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, in 1903/1904. Between 1912 and 1914 Picasso returned to the motif to create his series of radical assemblages, each entitled 'Guitar', using at first cardboard and then sheet metal to question the sculptural tradition of modelling with his innovative new technique.
Following these early experiments with the theme, the guitar became one of the most important of his Cubist symbols, deeply embedded in his new visual vocabulary and adopted by, among others, Braque and Gris. The guitar was used as a tool to explore the four dimensionalities of space and form, as they emphasised the instrument’s geometric shapes and presented it from multiple viewpoints. As in Three Musicians, the flat, abstract shapes also give the appearance of the cut and pasted papers of the artist's collages from Synthetic Cubist phase, giving the work a beautiful patterned quality.
From 1920 to 1921 Picasso entered into an extremely prolific, creative stage. He collaborated on a number of projects, including designing sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Paris. During this time his works became increasingly bright, as we find here with his use of sky blue, burnt orange and pink. 'Guitare sur une table' also shows Picasso beginning to playfully combine geometric forms with an increasingly decorative element, foreshadowing the theatrical painting 'The Three Musicians'.
Collection Paul Chadouren
Private Collection, France
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1973, Vol XXX, no. 252, page 80
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, Neoclassicism I, 1920-1921, San Francisco, 1995, p. 218, no. 21-180 (illustrated)
This work is accompanied by a certificate signed by Monsieur Claude Ruiz Picasso, dated April 19, 2015