Critique of Pablo Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror

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The painting, Girl Before a Mirror, by Pablo Picasso was created in March 1932. A woman is seen standing and she expands an arm across the image towards a mirror to touch her reflection. The woman and the mirror symmetrically oppress almost the entire canvas and centrally imposes as the vertical axis of the painting.

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Picasso literally connects the two sides together through the reaching motion to emphasize a bond between the woman and her mirror image. To stress this, Picasso includes red-stripes originating at the woman’s chest and spreads to her fingertips in the center of the painting, promoting easy flow and unity. The piece is absorbed by a variety of shapes, which constructs the essence of the woman’s body and her reflection. The shapes provide the woman with curves, particularly around the abdomen area. During this time, Picasso’s paintings mostly revolved around his mistress, Marie Therese Walter, who may have become pregnant with his child, hence the roundness of the woman’s figure. Otherwise, this painting was created during Picasso’s Cubist period where he initiated a new practice by altering appearances of all subjects, objects and people, opposed to what was generally expected. He did so through the use of incorporating geometric shapes, significant patterns, and contrasting colors in his art unrealistically and whimsically. These shapes are even prominent in the background that is usually placed as a backdrop, but in this case it is used as a metaphor for Picasso himself and allows the background to assist the main subject and pop as a focal point.


The compositional strategy is based on symmetrical balance, in which the woman is on the left and her mirror image is on the right. The symmetry essentially brings focus to the ways that the two sides are not alike. In fact, the girl’s face shown in the mirror does not relate to the existing characteristics. Picasso also fulfills a balance of both warm and cool colors. Warm colors are primarily used on the woman, while cool colors are primarily used on her mirror image. He was mostly interested in captivating a human body and rendering it into a variety of colors,

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