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The Old Guitarist, from The Blue Guitar

A print features at its center a version of Pablo Picasso's "The Old Guitarist"—depicting, in various shades of blue, an old man sitting cross-legged, playing guitar. Around it are smaller sketches related to Picasso's work in red and blue. At the top, "Pablo Picasso Spanish 1881" is written in red type, at the bottom "The Old Guitarist 1903."

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  • A print features at its center a version of Pablo Picasso's "The Old Guitarist"—depicting, in various shades of blue, an old man sitting cross-legged, playing guitar. Around it are smaller sketches related to Picasso's work in red and blue. At the top, "Pablo Picasso Spanish 1881" is written in red type, at the bottom "The Old Guitarist 1903."

Date:

1976–77

Artist:

David Hockney (English, born 1937)
proofed by Maurice Payne (English)
printed by Richard Spare (English)
published by Petersburg Press Ltd. (American, 20th century)

About this artwork

Since the early 1960s, David Hockney has sought ways to meld his modern aesthetic style with highly personalized subject matter. He started by inserting fragments of poems into his paintings, as, for example, in We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961), which integrates two lines from a Walt Whitman poem of the same title. Fifteen years later, inspired by Wallace Stevens’s “The Man with the Blue Guitar” (1937), with its themes of representation and imaginative transformation, Hockney made 10 drawings in colored inks and crayons. With the aid of master printer Aldo Crommelynck those drawings were converted into 20 mixed intaglio prints using a color-etching process initially developed for Pablo Picasso.

While not a literal illustration of Stevens’s poem, the print series The Blue Guitar interprets its themes in visual terms, and most of the images show Hockney’s love of Picasso. The print Old Guitarist juxtaposes the Art Institute’s famous painting of 1903–04 (1926.253) with later Picasso iconography. Other sheets likewise contrast Picasso’s different phases within the same image; throughout the series, Hockney distinguishes the disparate styles by using different colors.

It is perhaps Hockney’s Blue Guitar that has perpetuated the idea that Wallace Stevens was similarly inspired by Picasso’s Old Guitarist. Although Stevens was familiar with modern art and no doubt saw the painting when it was exhibited at the Wadsworth Atheneum in 1934, he insisted that no one picture inspired his famous poem.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Prints and Drawings

Artist

David Hockney

Title

The Old Guitarist, from The Blue Guitar

Place

United States (Artist's nationality)

Date

Made 1976–1977

Medium

Color etching and aquatint from two copper plates on white wove paper

Dimensions

Plate: 42.5 × 34.5 cm (16 3/4 × 13 5/8 in.); Sheet: 52.5 × 46 cm (20 11/16 × 18 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Mrs. Solomon B. Smith Memorial Fund

Reference Number

1978.23.2

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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