Introduction To Cubism • Perception of reality: The image; from “The Bard” to “Batman”.• “ lines begin to blur, colours begin to move and merge and coalesce . Cracks appear and the image breaks apart. Sharp edged pieces are rearranged…”• Some comparisons between The Waste Land and CubismP Hegarty 2012
• Brief Introduction• Cubism was a truly revolutionary style of modern art• Photography had replaced art as the mechanism for ‘realistic’ representation• Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque were the leading ‘Cubists’• Responding to a world that was changing with unprecedented speed.• An attempt to “revitalise the tired traditions of Western art which they believed had run their course.” Art Factory• The conventional forms of representation, such as perspective, which had been the rule since the Renaissance. Escaped ‘the tyranny of linear perspective’• It was a “shattering of the picture plane”…• “Developed a new way of seeing which reflected the modern age. “ Cubism• “…but the Cubists wanted to make pictures that reached beyond the rigid geometry of perspective. They wanted to introduce the idea of relativity - how the artist perceived and selected elements from the subject, fusing both their observations and memories into the one concentrated image “Eye on Art
“Cubists seek to reproduce different perspectives simultaneously, like they might beseen by the mind’s eye. It tries to mimic the mind’s power to abstract and synthesize itsdifferent impressions of the world into new wholes. When you look at an object youreye scans it, stopping to register on a certain detail before moving on to the next pointof interest and so on…allowing you to look at it from above, below or from the side.Therefore, the Cubists proposed that your sight of an object is the sum of many differentviews and your memory of an object is not constructed from one angle, as inperspective, but from many angles selected by your sight and movement. Cubistpainting, paradoxically abstract in form, was an attempt at a more realistic way ofseeing.” Art History• “ Braque now break ups forms in an almost explosive manner, splintering them into a multiplicity of tiny planes and then reassembling them. The resulting shapes are crystalline and jewel-like in appearance, creating a complex kaleidoscope of forms. “• The following is an excellent BBC series on Modern Art; First episode-Picasso
Some other features;• Colour…blue, grey and ochre• Sometimes almost monochromatic• Geometric shapes…lines…angles• The “artist’s canvas resembled more like a field of broken glass “• “Primitive Art Forms”. Modern design• “Unlike traditional still-lifes, landscapes, or portrait paintings, Cubist paintings aren’t meant to be realistic or life-like in any way. Instead, after looking at the subject from every possibly angle, the artist will piece together fragments from different vantage points into one painting.” EmptyEasel• They used multiple or contrasting vantage points.• “…reveals a very methodical deconstruction into three dimensional shaded facets and some of them are caving others convex.” EmptyEasel
“Picassos well-known 1937 work Guernica forms a strong example of developed cubist techniques “Guernica: Cubism as Art and Political Response A 3-d Exploration of Guernica Other Analysis
• “This type of Cubism is called Analytic Cubism, and it’s usually what comes to mind when people think of Cubist artwork.”• Synthetic Cubism on the other hand was a natural extension of Analytic Cubism. Instead of breaking a subject down into pieces, it involved assembling pieces already available into a collage. Here’s an example by Georges Braque, entitled Tenora.Analytical v synthetic cubism
• The Cubist painting presents an a ‘fusing of observation and memory’. Our mind can randomly remember fragments of an experience. This ‘assembly’ can then be represented on the page. Consider the following cubist painting; JW Power Seaside Still Life, 1926
• One can quite easily see how this image represents an experience or experiences at the beach…more ‘ realistic’ than traditional forms the cubists would claim• Imagine your house for 30 seconds. If you were a cubist painter, you could now represent your image of your house on paper. Your mental ‘snippets’ might include part of the front, the back, the garden, your room, the kitchen, your mum’s annoyed facial expression [only a distorted face] as your sister spills some sauce on the floor, a piece of an old backyard slide that is no longer there. You would have ”…freedom from the tyranny of perspective“. This image would capture the house from many different perspectives, capture mood, emotion, action, memories…the ‘fourth dimension’ time
“As you can see, Synthetic Cubism is still fairly geometric, and somepieces (like this one) incorporate traditional media as well as foundobjects.”
How somecontemporaryart still drawson Cubisttechniques
• Art Deco was an art movement that lasted from the 1920s until around 1940. It began in France with a group of French decorators, designers, and artists at an event called Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes— the name Art Deco was later coined from that title.• Art Deco was a very “modern” movement, celebrating the beauty of technology in the early 20th century. Art Deco contains many references to trains, planes, cars, and skyscrapers, mixing art with scientific advancement.• Every part of this painting is a geometric solid—the figure’s head looks like it was carved out of a single sphere, and her neck, arms, and fingers are all cylindrical.• Notice her metallic curls as well. Stainless steel and other metals figure prominently in Art Deco, and when actual metals couldn’t be used (in paintings for instance) gradients were substituted to look like metal.• In a society where technology and machines were being increasingly idolized, it’s no wonder that artists began portraying perfected humans, with matte skin, sculpted features and precious metal for hair.
Art Deco Meets Science Fiction: Metropolis 1927
Cubism and The Waste Land• Different Voices…different perspectives…looking at reality from multiple points of view. On the surface a Cubist painting and this poem both lack a traditional narrative focus and structure. Both seem to be a collection of a random imagery.• The Cubists ‘shattered the traditional picture plane’• Eliot shatters the traditional narrative/poetic plane…there is no one single unified vision or single persona. There is an absence of a single authoritative voice. The grand backdrop of nature is fragmentary when it appears• A Cubist painting, while carefully and deliberately constructed, appears to be a free association of ideas/images. The Waste Land too has an underlying structure but also appears to have that free association of ideas, represented through free verse in a stream of consciousness type of expression.• Our mind does not function in a structured sequential fashion. Our thoughts and thought processes are quite random as our mind darts across different planes of time and place. Our mind functions as a stream of consciousness .• Analytical Cubism appears as a collage, a pastiche of paint, paper, cloth and other materials, deliberately avoiding traditional notions of perspective [illusion of realism/truth] and Chiaroscuro…a collection of flotsam and jetsam of modern life…high and low culture ‘pasted’ together. A torn page of sheet music might be aligned with a cigarette paper for example… “capturing the new sense of simultaneity of diverse experiences-the fusion of objects, people, machines, noises, light, smells, etc “ Cubism a new Vision
• Eliot is ‘freed’ from the tyranny of the 19th century role of the writer of presenting a ‘truth’ or ‘realistic’ vision. Eliot’s work is often described as a collage too…snippets from myth, opera, poetry, sacred texts, music hall songs, bar room conservations, voices from the past, other languages, prophetic voices, high and low culture…all discordantly clashing…aligned and juxtaposed in a harsh angular fashion. We follow one ‘line’, one speaker until there is another sudden shift in speaker and mood and we find ourselves on a different “plane”…• What unifies a Cubist image ? Let’s return to Guernica. We find the following. Ideas, Mood and Techniques unify the painting• Ideas- the horror of war- the potential for evil in humanity- the potential for pity and empathy in humanity- the suffering of innocent people- the scale of destruction in modern warfare• Techniques [ Analysis ]- There are motifs and repetition…open mouths [screams], staring eyes [shock]. He has repeated shapes [eye, sun, horse hair]- Symbolism…eyes- Absence of colour- Juxtaposition- Metaphors [ bull representing sacrifice ] and so on
The Waste Land is also unified by Ideas, Mood and TechniquesIdeas• The cycle of the rise and fall of civilisations• The intellectual and spiritual waste land of modern life…a desire for spiritual nourishment…a loss of confidence in traditional religious faith…other institutions• A partial break down of the old class system [which Eliot, as a conservative, would have bemoaned]• The sense of alienation and ennui of modern life…a breakdown in communication…a sense of disconnection…a desire for meaning…an emotional and social wasteland…private individual angst• A desire for regeneration and renewal. ..the need to reconnect with our traditional sources of wisdom…drawing on literature, history, myth, sacred texts and other collective bodies of knowledge…• The emptiness of lives dominated by the values of consumerism and materialism…banality and vulgarity of modern life.• Living in an urbanised highly industrialised society where the individualised is dwarfed by rapid technological advances• An ambivalence about science…the excitement of new inventions but also the horror it unleashed on the battlefields of WW1• Corruption of human love reduced to mechanical sexuality…Emotional and spiritual sterility of humanity• Hope…provided in different allusion including The Tempest…possibility of salvation…emotional, spiritual and intellectual vitality can be regained….waste and regeneration part of an ongoing cycle as mirrored in the seasons and the passage of time…the rise and fall of civilisations…”the ancient fertility myths of Egypt, India and Greece in which the god must die to be reborn to bring fertility to the soil…” [Southam 1990 pg94]
Techniques also unify this poetic collage• Motifs• Allusions• Repetition• Images created in various ways [ verbs, adjectives, metaphors etc]• Different styles of writing…different speakers…Lyrical, elegiac, colloquial, direct speech
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