This piece is not about a particular guitar but, rather, the essence of “guitar.” The hint of feminine curves of the guitar’s body is dominated by an angular representation: two overlapping diamonds that are emphasized by parallel lines suggesting frets and/or strings. The soft outlined contours on the right are echoed by two shaded crescents on the left. There is a feminine/masculine duality in the contrasts between curves and angles, dark and light, outlines and shading, upward and downward slopes — perfectly balanced yet conveying motion: not the string at rest, but resonating immediately after being strummed. To get a sense of the work’s energy, picture the vermilion band as a straight line like a horizon. All at once it is drained of motion and becomes static.
It is unusual for an artist to be able to convey the dynamism of music in a static medium, yet Picasso has managed to do just that — and with such elegant simplicity. As interesting as his other guitar pieces are, and as great as they are compositionally, they aren’t as musical as this one.