Man with a Guitar

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, Spanish, 1881 - 1973

Geography:
Made in France, Europe

Date:
1912

Medium:
Oil on canvas

Dimensions:
51 13/16 x 35 1/16 inches (131.6 x 89.1 cm)

Copyright:
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
Modern Art

Object Location:

* Gallery 180, Modern and Contemporary Art, first floor

Accession Number:
1950-134-169

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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Label:
This painting was completed in the summer or early autumn of 1912 at Les Clochettes, a villa that Picasso rented in Sorgues, near Avignon, in the south of France. It was later included in the first Surrealist exhibition, which took place at Galerie Pierre Loeb in Paris in November 1925. It is not known if Picasso had any say in the selection of this work, but André Breton, the French poet and Surrealist leader, greatly admired the visual ambiguities of Picasso's Cubist paintings, which by the following decade had lost none of their power to shock and bewilder the public.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    The Cubist language that Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque developed redefined the concept of painterly realism. Every picture confirms the Picasso's insistence that his images were always grounded in reality and never conceived as abstract combinations of pictorial elements. The subject of this painting, for example, can be deciphered by situating the identifiable elements relative to one another within the rigorously shallow space of the composition, its volumes flattened into a scaffold-like system of lines and softly modeled planes. The vertical canvas refers the viewer to the traditional format for portraiture. The ivory trapezoid at upper center suggests a face, although all features are absent. Recognition of the guitar is aided by Picasso's familiar visual shorthand for the instrument: the key at its upper neck, the shaded arc of the sound hole, the vertical lines of the strings. The most recognizable element in the composition--the dish containing a swirled dessert--adds an unusual note of bright color to the relatively somber Cubist palette. Ann Temkin, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 308.

Provenance

With Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Paris, until 1914; French government, sequestered Kahnweiler stock, 1914-21; 1st Kahnweiler sequestration sale, Hôtel Drouot, June 13-14, 1921, no. 90, (illus. p. 26). With Paul Guillaume, Paris (from Kahnweiler sale?), before 1929 [1]; Jacques Doucet (1853-1929), Paris and Neuilly, until his death in 1929 [2]; by inheritance from her husband to Madame Jacques Doucet (Jeanne Roger), Neuilly, 1929; sold to Jacques Seligmann & Co., New York (stock no. 6474), September 15, 1937 [3]; sold to Louise and Walter C. Arensberg, Los Angeles, July 29, 1941 [4]; gift to PMA, 1950. 1. See illus. in Carl Einstein, "Notes sur le Cubisme," Documents, no. 3, June 1929, p. 149 (as "anciennement Collection Paul Guillaume"). 2. A 1930 photograph of the painting hanging in Doucet's rue Saint-James studio in Neuilly, is published in François Chapon, Mystère et splendeurs de Jacques Doucet, Paris, 1984. Doucet was a couturier and art collector/patron who also owned Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon". 3. Included in the 1937 Seligmann exhibition, "Twenty Years in the Evolution of Picasso," no. 8, which notes the Jacques Doucet provenance. According to Chapon (p. 386, note 92), Madame Doucet sold this painting, along with other Picassos, to Seligmann in 1937. A handwritten list signed by Madame Jacques Doucet in the Jacques Seligmann & Co. gallery archives records the sale of six Picassos from her collection to Jacques Seligmann & Co. on September 15, 1937, including one entitled "La Guitare," presumably "Homme avec une guitare" (as it is referred to elsewhere in the Seligmann accounts); see Archives of American Art, Jacques Seligmann & Co. Records / Series 7.1 / Box 290 / f. 6: Purchase Receipts, nos. 6156-6543, 1936 February-1937 December (copies in curatorial file). Five of these works were included by Seligmann in the November 1937 exhibition. 4. Dated receipt from Seligmann to Walter Arensberg in PMA, Arensberg Archives, Box 28, folder 17.


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