• Artist: Pablo Picasso
  • Creation date: (1912)
  • Object type: Painting

On display: Room 068 The Collection Exhibition - Fragments of reality


Guitar marks a transition in Pablo Picasso’s cubist period. From 1907 to 1914, Picasso and George Braque worked on establishing and developing the cubist idiom in close contact with each other, and in spring 1912 they began a new phase when Braque launched the idea of using unconventional tools to imitate a variety of textures. It didn’t take long before “foreign elements” started being incorporated in their pictures, and in spring 1912 Picasso created what has since been regarded as the very first collage. At the same time they abandoned the ascetic colour schemes that typified early cubism, where shades of brown and grey dominated. A variety of colours were thenceforth introduced, in particular pastels such as pink, light blue, and pistachio green.

At the heart of Guitar is a form of imitated wood. The guitar alluded to in the title of the work is fragmented, and the shapes have been distributed over several planes in the manner of cubism. Optical effects play a key role, with ambiguous spatiality, overlapping, and transparent planes creating an object that is difficult to identity. What we perceive as the foreground and background varies.

A particularly original element of this painting is its oval shape, a form it shares in common with the first collage Picasso created only a few months earlier. In the following two years Picasso made over 100 collages. He did not forsake painting, however, and his experimentation with textures, shapes, materials, and colours took place in a constant interchange between painting and collage.

Text: Vibeke Waallann Hansen

From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0


Pablo Picasso

Visual artist

Born 1881 in Malaga, death 1973 in Mougins

Pablo Picasso is considered one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century. He experimented with different styles throughout his artistic career, alternating between paintings, sculptures and prints. Along with Georges Braque, he developed a new visual style that came to be known as cubism.


Cubism reached its height from around 1907 to 1914, and underwent several phases. During this period Picasso painted a number of portraits and still lifes with motifs that were simplified and divided into planes. Most of the paintings had a muted colour scheme. In Guitar (1912), Picasso combines earthen and pastel colours, and breaks up the motif in an approach that is typical of cubism. The guitar referred to in the title of the painting is nearly unrecognisable.

Collaboration with Carl Nesjar

Picasso collaborated with the Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar for many years. Their association began with the high-rise block in the Government Quarter and continued with a number of freestanding concrete sculptures. One of the highlights of their collaboration is Fiskerne (The Fishermen), a drawing by Picasso that Nesjar sandblasted on the façade of the “Y-Block”. This building, designed by Erling Viksjø and completed in 1969, was demolished in 2020 despite strong protests.

The “Erotic Suite”

Picasso produced a large number of prints with a wide range of motifs. At the age of 87 he created a comprehensive series of prints, “Suite 347”, also known as the “Erotic Suite”. Several of the motifs feature Picasso himself, often together with a naked female model. These works were sometimes censored because of their erotic content and sexually explicit scenarios.

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Chitarra (ITA)
La guitare (FRE)
Gitaren (NOR)
La Guitare (FRE)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Olje på lerret
  • Height: 72.6 cm
  • Width: 59.5 cm
  • Depth: 3.1 cm
Purchased 1921
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Børre Høstland/Jarre, Anne Hansteen
© Picasso, Pablo/BONO