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The Guitar Sculpture by Spanish Artist Pablo Picasso

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Narrator 1: 7–9 Guitar. Made in 1914 by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, 1881 – 1973. Sheet metal and wire, 30 inches high by 13 inches wide by 8 inches deep.Narrator 2: This sculpture of a guitar is slightly smaller than an average guitar. It’s made from layers of thin sheet metal that have been cut or bent into various shapes. Unlike most sculptures, it is hung high on the wall, as it was in Picasso’s studio. While three–dimensional, much of the volume is suggested through shadows, rather than actually depicted. Unlike an actual guitar, this one is open in the front so the interior of the guitar is visible.

Although it’s made of metal, the material could be mistaken for brown paper or cardboard. The guitar hangs vertically, with its neck at the twelve o’clock position. In the center is an open cylinder representing the sound hole; it’s about three inches wide and protrudes out about five inches. The base of the cylinder is attached to the back of the guitar with small tabs fanning out around the circumference. Four wires, like guitar strings, run vertically along a u–shaped trough, representing the neck of the guitar. They stop about three–quarters of the way up, where they are attached to a horizontal cross–bar. At the top of the neck is an inverted triangle, symbolizing the guitar’s head.

The body of the guitar is formed by layers of paper–thin sheet–metal cut out and folded into different shapes. The bottom layer sits flush against the wall. It’s the largest piece and forms the contour of the instrument, cut into an hourglass shape on the left side and on the right, a rectangular–shape. On top of that layer is a slightly smaller rectangular sheet. The left and right sides are bent upwards like an open box. These allude to the sides of the guitar, which would normally create an enclosed hollow interior, but in Picasso’s version, the front is open. The next layer sits flat against the lower right corner of the box–like layer below. Its right side is shaped like an hourglass, mirroring the curves of the left side. The bottom is rounded, much like an actual guitar would be.

The inside edge of this curvilinear form is cut away in a backward L shape, framing the lower right side of the sound hole. Below that, attached to the very bottom of the sculpture, is a piece of metal about six inches square. It juts out towards the viewer at a 45–degree angle and creates a shadow against the wall.

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