Pablo Picasso. Girl with a Mandolin

Girl with a Mandolin. The artist is Pablo Picasso. He painted it in 1910.
It’s an oil painting on canvas.
The dimensions are 39 and a half inches high by 29 inches wide.
Or 100.3 centimeters high by 73.6 centimeters wide.
It is in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Girl with a Mandolin is an early example of an Analytic Cubist painting. Picasso painted from a model who sat in front of him, facing him. You, as the viewer, are in the position of the artist. The model is a nude girl holding a mandolin. We see the upper part of her body, from her thighs to her head. Her head turns to her left, which is your right. So, we see a profile view of her face. And she’s looking slightly downward at her mandolin, which she appears to be playing, holding the mandolin across the front of her body. Although her head is in profile to the right, the rest of her body is facing directly toward us.

The colors in this painting are shades of light brown, tan, yellow, and olive green. They all seem close to each in color, and they are all muted or dull. No bright color stands out. These factors make the entire surface of the painting appear unified in color.

Picasso looked at his model and analyzed her nude figure, breaking it down into many squares, cubes, rectangles, and other unnamable geometric shapes. He arranged these shapes to show different parts of her body that in fact, it would be impossible to see from one point in space or in a single moment of time. This characteristic is what makes it an Analytic Cubist painting, that is, showing multiple points of view simultaneously in one painting.

The background of the painting, behind the girl, shows nothing recognizable. It’s like she’s surrounded by a random pattern of squares, cubes, rectangles and other geometric shapes. Since Picasso has rendered the girl the same way as the background, it's a little difficult to tell which shapes belong to the background and which shapes belong to the girl. It’s like figure and ground are one surface.
Girl with a Mandolin is a good example of why it’s a challenge, even for a sighted viewer, to look at a Cubist painting and clearly see the figure as distinct from the background.

It is possible to identify the figure of the girl because she is in slightly lighter tones than the background. These lighter colors make her body parts visible,
Also, it’s easy to recognize the pear-shaped body of the mandolin. It’s oval curved lines stand out starkly against all the straight lines and angles of the geometric forms.

 

 

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