Cubism Time Period• The cubism era started in France in the early 20th century (around 1907), but its ideas and concepts have continued to influence art today.• The early 20th century was a time of change in the art world in France, yet cubism was still highly rejected. Many people said it was ugly and that they were unable to understand it.• The scientific and philosophical changes at the time influenced the subject matter within cubist artwork and peoples ability to accept the changes cubism was making in the art world.• Cubism offered a visual equivalent of a fundamental aspect of the 20th century experience
About Cubism• The name Cubism was suggested by Henri Matisse in 1909. He observed that the pictures themselves consisted of "nothing but little cubes."• The idea behind Cubism is to show the essence of an object by displaying it from many different angles and points of view at the same time. An object is broken up, analyzed from many different perspectives and reassembled in abstract form.• An object could be reconstructed using separate views which overlapped and intersected.• The Cubists wanted to make pictures that reached beyond the rigid geometry of perspective. They wanted to introduce the idea of “relativity” which is how the artist perceived and selected elements from the subject, fusing both their observations and memories into the one concentrated image.
• The Cubists proposed that your sight of an object is the sum of many different views and your memory of an object is not constructed from on angle, in one perspective, but from many angles selected by your sight and movement.• A typical Cubist painting depicts real people, places, or objects, but not from a fixed view point.• Cubist paintings are abstract, they are an attempt at a more realistic way of seeing.• Substitutes a radically new fusion of mass and void. Cubism offered an unstable structure of dismembered planes in indeterminate spatial positions.• Cubism proposed that the work of art was itself a reality that represented the very process by which nature is transformed into art.
• The Cubist palette was restricted to a narrow, almost monochromatic scale, dominated by grays and browns.• Cubist art always has an ultimate reference to external reality, without which it could not express the fundamental tension between the demands of nature and the demands of art.• Many of their subjects, either people or landscapes, were represented as combinations of basic geometric shapes. The essential geometric shapes were the cube, the sphere, the cylinder, and the cone.• In front of a Cubist painting, the spectator was to realize that no single interpretation of the fluctuating shapes, textures, spaces, and objects could be complete in itself.
Characteristics of Cubism-splintered shapes, flattened space andgeometric blocks of color-quest to find a new concept of painting as anarrangement of form and color on a 2-Dsurface-multiple angles-reconstruct objects-battle between what the eyes see and whatthe mind knows is suppose to be there
Paul Cézanne and his influence• He liked to flatten the space in his paintings to place emphasis on their surface: to stress the difference between a painting and reality.• He saw painting in more abstract terms as the construction and arrangement of color on a 2D surface.• The flat abstract approach appealed to the cubists and their early painting.
• Cézanne was a French artist during the Post- Impressionist era and his ideas behind art influenced Fauvism, Cubism, and Expressionism.• He used color, line, and form in his work to describe how the human eye sees nature.• He said that painting is a reflection of visual perception and the canvas takes the role of a screen where visual sensations are registered. He wanted to incorporate multiple viewing angles into work.• Cézanne use many colors of paint and applied them with a series of discrete, methodical brushstrokes, making it seem that he was constructing a picture.• He also said that every portion of the canvas should contribute to its overall structural integrity.
• Cézanne’s architectural approach to everything in nature is based on the sphere, cone, and cylinder, influenced cubist’s abstract landscapes and geometrical dimensions. He taught them to break down simple objects into multiple shapes.• He also taught cubists the importance of viewing objects from multiple angles and trying to incorporate them onto one canvas. Cubists then incorporated the multiple views into one, having overlapping parts that have their own shape and color.
• Along with Cézanne’s paintings, the publication in 1907 of a letter written by Cézanne to Emile Bernard influenced Braque and Picasso, too.• This letter contained the famous sentence: “you must see in nature the cylinder, the sphere, and the cone.”• Picasso and Braque followed this advice and initiated the movement by reducing to fundamental geometric forms of nature.
Picasso• Picasso’s cubist art was influenced by Cezanne and African Sculpture.• He worked with Braque and their influences on each others works allowed for the development of cubism as we know it.• Known for depicting figures from multiple, exaggerated viewpoints• Geometric implications and contrasting vantage-points for different features became a central factor in his artwork.• Known for deconstructing and abstracting his work. He felt the composition of his work was more important than the visual appearance.
• Shows rendering of three dimensions by shifting viewpoints and of volume or mass in terms of flat planes/• Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon shows the exaggerated viewpoints applied to all figures.• His use of contrasting vantage points for different features became a central factor in the practice of all Cubists• Picasso wanted the mind to direct the optical exploration. His use of geometric figures force this.
• Braque started as a Fauvist• In 1908, he was producing his earliest canvases that were heavily influenced by Cézanne• Critics claimed he ‘reduced everything to cubes.’• In 1909, Braque formed an alliance with Pablo Picasso.• Together, they made cubism a new art form• Remembered as ‘brothers in cubism’• In 1911, Braque started using numbers and letters in his canvases• Between 1912-1914, the translation from analytical to synthetic cubism occurred and Braque’s pieces became less colorful and recognizable• In 1914, Braque returned from World War 1 and felt that Picasso had betrayed the Cubist system and rules. Their partnership then ended.• Braque parted from cubism thereafter and pursued other art forms• He was still a major influence in cubism, a creator and an inspiration to many other cubists
Braque & Picasso Influence Each Other• Picasso and Braque were the fathers of Cubism.• Picasso and Braque were greatly influenced by African sculpture, by painters Paul Cézanne and George Seurat, and by the fauves.• Beginning in 1912, the work of Picasso and Braque is based on the radically new principle that the pictorial illusion takes place upon the physical reality of an opaque surface rather that behind the illusion of a transparent plane.• Around 1912, Picasso and Braque had such similar styles that it was difficult to tell their paintings apart. Their work was increasingly abstract and less recognizable as the subject of their titles.• The close contact between Picasso and Braque was crucial to the style of Cubism. The two artists collaborated very closely, regularly meeting to discuss their progress.
• Both are examples of Analytical Cubism. They both have a reduced color palette of grays and browns which was a method used to bring out an objects spatial qualities rather than appearance. You can see the geometric shapes in each painting and the multiple view points.
Forms of CubismAnalytical Cubism: This was the early form of cubismthat lasted until about 1912. It abandoned perspectiveand the artist analyzed the subject from many differentview points and reconstructed it within a geometricframe work. The overall effect was to create an imagethat evoked a sense of the subject. The art work wasunified by the use of a subdued and limited palette ofcolors. Analytic cubists reduced natural forms to theirbasic geometric parts and then tried to reconcile theseessentially 3-D parts with the 2-D picture plane.
Synthetic Cubism: Began around 1912. It no longer concerned with exploring the anatomy of nature, but turns to the creation of a new anatomy that is far less dependent upon the principle of perception. Now the painters attention was focused on the construction, not the analysis of the object (creation, not recreation).• Color regained its decorative function instead of being restricted to the naturalistic description.• Compositions were static and centered but they lost their depth and became abstract• The construction requirements brought about the introduction of new textures and new materials.
Collages• Later inventions in Cubism arose from a desire to emphasize further the material identity of the art object and to convey the subject matter more lucidly.• Picasso glued a factory made piece of oilcloth printed with a realistic chair-caning pattern onto a small still life. This was regarded as the first Cubist Collage.• Collages have material reference to non-artistic realities. They acted as a way to incorporate real life objects into paintings.
Picasso: Still life with chair caning. 1911-12
Other Painters of Cubism Gris, Delaunay, Léger, and Duchamp
Juan Gris• Spanish Cubist• Painter and sculptor, worked in France most of his life• Often referred to as the ‘third musketeer of cubism’• Made some of cubism’s most distinctive works
‘Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2’ – Duchamp (1912)This is known as the mostfamous Cubist paintingin America
Ferdinand Léger• French painter and sculptor in cubism• In his early works he created a personal form of Cubism which he gradually modified into a more figurative, populist style• Known as one of the creators of the ‘pop art’ style
Reactions from the public• Picasso overcame socially unacceptable portrayals in his art by incorporating ideas about erotic sexuality into his work.• People were outraged by the subject matter in the geometric emphasis in the cubists work.• Cubism broke the restrictive chains of 19th-Century art’s balanced structure and well-defined order• An industrialized society dominated by mass production, poster art, and printing techniques changed the visual landscape of Paris seemingly overnight. Picasso inspired an official reaction by painting a new form of visual art.• In later years, Cubism was victimized by its politics, its critical reaction, and a fierce sense of nationalism.
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