Three Musicians, 1921 by Pablo Picasso

Three Musicians is a large painting measuring more than 2 meters wide and high. It is painted in the style of Synthetic Cubism and gives the appearance of cut paper.

Picasso paints three musicians made of flat, brightly coloured, abstract shapes in a shallow, boxlike room. On the left is a clarinet player, in the middle a guitar player, and on the right a singer holding sheets of music. They are dressed as familiar figures: Pierrot, wearing a blue and white suit; Harlequinn, in an orange and yellow diamond-patterned customer; and, at right, a friar in a black robe. In front of Pierrot stands a table with a pipe and other objects, while beneath him is a dog, whose belly, legs, and tail peep out behind the musician’s legs. Like the boxy brown stage on which the three musicians perform, everything in this painting is made up of flat shapes. Behind each musician, the light brown floor is in a different place, extending much farther toward the left than the right. Framing the picture, the floor and the flat walls make the room lopsided, but the musicians seem steady. Music Makers in Harmony; It is hard to tell where one musician starts and another stops because the shapes that create them intersect and overlap as if they were paper cutouts. Pierrot, the figure in blue and white, holds a clarinet in his hands; one hand is connected to a long, thin, black arm, while the other hand lacks an arm. Three Musicians emphasize lively colours, angular shapes, and flat patterns. Picasso said he was delighted when “Gertrude Stein joyfully announced… that she had, at last, understood what… the three musicians were meant to be. It was a still life!”

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