Reading the “I went to MoMA and…” notecards, we’ve started to notice the guitars… a lot of guitars. People draw guitars of all shapes and sizes; realistic guitars, Cubist guitars, abstract guitars; guitars by kids, guitars by grownups, guitars by people from many different countries. The inspiration, of course, for this outpouring of guitar drawings is our current exhibition Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914.
We all know what a guitar looks like, and maybe that’s a special pleasure of this exhibition. Curving and flat surfaces meet in a three-dimensional soundbox, pierced by curly holes. The straight spar of the neck is feathered with strings and crowned with pegs. The exhibition takes us along for the ride as Picasso explores and transforms the familiar shapes we thought we knew—and, also, the materials we thought we knew. Cardboard, brown paper, newspaper, wallpaper… there’s something about the wild creativity with which Picasso experiments with mass-produced materials that makes art making look like so much fun. No wonder our visitors come out of the exhibition with an itch to draw!
(For more on the Picasso guitars, watch conservator Scott Gerson’s fascinating recent video post on how he cleaned the grime off one fragile cardboard and paper construction for the exhibition.)