Although the theme of both paintings revolves around music, Harnett’s [on the left] is a detailed, almost photographic rendering of all the elements depicted, creating an illusion of reality. It appears as a careful set-up which gives clues to the viewer into a world of nostalgic and romantic nature.
On the other hand, Picasso’s* painting, by using a series of geometrical shapes and patterns, doesn’t merely imitate the world as seen, but creates an impression connecting us to the essence of music and its rhythm. The use of words creates the festive event context in which the music is played. In spite of the theme, the painting has become an independent object where colors, composition and textures invite the viewer to perceive the world from different points of views. The ambiguity of the visual message can be the starting point for the viewer’s own creative process.
What is interesting to me is that, although the painting on the left appears to be more realistic, it could be totally an illusion… where the one on the right might actually be a bigger picture of a real event.
* There was some debate among the group whether this piece was created by Picasso or Braque, as they were working closely together in a similar style. Joëlle thinks it looks more like Picasso’s work of that time. –Karen