The hard thing about paintings is that the painter has painted it for one of two reasons and it is difficult to discover which reason the painting was painted. The first of these being that they painted it for themselves—for the relieving of an emotion, or in an attempt to fill an empty part of their life. The second reason would be to connect with the world. Picasso went through several stages, or periods, in his art and it is believed that each of these periods were influenced by events within his life.
“The Old Guitar” or “Guitarist,” depending on the source, is one of the most well known paintings of Picasso’s Blue Period. It’s believed that this period was started when a friend of Picasso’s shot himself in a cafe. By knowing such a background it can be believed that Picasso was painting for the first reason—he needed an outlet for his sadness. It’s also possible that the subjects for his paintings are really just representations of him. Picasso is the old man with the guitar, the one who is singing a lament throughout the night with his head bent in sorrow.
While Picasso might have been painting for himself, his paintings seem to be meant for everyone. Just about everyone has had their own “blue period.” They have witnessed death, and terror. Maybe they are singing songs for the world, or a specific person. Picasso was able to capture that emotion on canvas, because he felt it and expressed it. This is what made Picasso’s paintings so likable; he was able to connect to everyone’s emotions because the emotions he put into his paintings were real. He felt strongly the emotions and used them to strengthen his paintings.