Archive for August 23rd, 2010

My post yesterday was about the guitarist Django Reinhardt and the beauty of the guitars he played.  I replied in a comment that I was surprised more painters didn’t use the guitar as a subject because, to me, it has a feeling of iconic expression.  It’s there in the shape of the instrument with its sensuous curves and neck.  The way the player holds- no, embraces the guitar.  The way they move their hands over the strings. 

It made me wonder how often the guitar had been used as subject and prompted to me to do a quick search. Now I don’t know what most people think and I don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of art history but for me the piece that must be the most recognized is Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist from his Blue Period, around 1903.  I have used this piece as the inspiration for paintings of my own and love the expessiveness of the hands and the bow of the player’s neck.

Another was from Georges Braque, one of the prominent names in Cubism with Picasso.  His Woman With a Guitar from 1913, shown here, is a beautiful example of the Cubist style.  I’m not sure it carries the emotional impact of the Picasso piece above but it is a fine piece.

Many of the earlier paintings I found containing stringed instruments were not guitars but lutes.  Perhaps the best of these paintings is this gorgeous painting from Vermeer, The Guitar Player.  On closer examination, you can see that it is a lute.  But it’s such a beautiful piece of painting, does it really matter?

Renoir- Young Spanish Woman with Guitar

Edouard Manet used the guitar player as a subject in several paintings as did Auguste Renoir.  Renoir really seized on the romantic aspect of the instrument which worked well with his style.  His players, usually his female subjects, cradle the instruments in a number of paintings.

There are certainly many, many more paintings out there that I failed to see or mention.  If you come across one that strikes your fancy, let me know.  There are some new kitschy paintings out there that are painted to appeal to guitar owners, not to actually create a sense of emotion which is  what I’m discussing here.  I’m talking about using the guitar as a subject for expression in the paintings, not simply as an object.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: