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The History of Cubism


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An essay about cubism

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The History of Cubism

  1. 1. Yolanda Berry Art History-AD 162-002 Prof Altin Essay 4 The Birth of Cubism George BraqueRoad near L’Estaque, 1908, Oil on Canvas
  2. 2. George BraqueGeorge Braque was born near LeHavre, France where he was trained as a decorator in 1900. “As a craftsman, hewas skilled with handling tools and materials. He drew from his experiences in wood-graining and marbling. Braqueused his skills to sensitize the surfaces of objects, exploiting their tactile qualities.” He was also influenced by the French style called, “Fauves” which included such artist as Henri Matisse andAndre Derain who painted with bright colors and loose forms. He eventually moved to Paris where he beganpainting brightly colored landscapes. By 1908, he developed a new style of painting. He was influenced by Paul Cezanne who painted withgradations of color which accentuated lack of space surrounding objects and forms. In the featured artwork, it is defined by sharp lines and rounded shapes. It is fragmented and has a distortedperspective which tends to separate each object allowing it to have its own personality and space, but at the sametime, communing together as one body of work. There is movement within the curves and straight lines which hasa 3-dimensional perspective, but simultaneously it also has a flat appearance. There is a limited use of color ofblues, greens and pale yellows.
  3. 3. Crowded spaces, sharp geometric forms and minimized color were key characteristics used to introduce thenew style known as “Cubism.” The painting, “Road near L’Estaque,” was considered a premature work of art in thedevelopment of Cubism even though the painting had enclosed spacing with the use of rectangular and triangularshapes that embodied the work. Eventually, he began to challenge the effects of light and perspective within hisartwork. Braque partnered with Pablo Picasso to later develop the technique called “Cubism” which was at firstcriticized and drew resistance by artists, but eventually, this modern style of artwork was embraced by artist all overEurope, Russia and the United States. They later defined the style as, “Analytic Cubism,” which broke elements ofthe painting into sections and divided the forms into parts. This created fresh and intimate interpretation for theaudience. From a distance, it can be viewed as an abstract piece of art because you do not see the full imagehowever as you view the painting closer one will see the full picture and all of its parts merging as one completeimage. In 1914, Braque enlisted in the French army and fought during World War I. After being injured, he began topainted independently where he continued to develop his own personal style creating still life’s and sculpturesusing bright colors and textured surfaces.
  4. 4. Collection of Works1. George Braque - Road near LEstaque
  5. 5. 2. Cezzane - Pines and Rocks
  6. 6. Paul Cezanne Paul Cezanne was an Impressionist artist who formed a partnership with Braque. He traveled to Paris where he wasstrongly influenced by the art culture in France. Cezanne was quickly known as the “Rebel” artist who challenged thenorm in society. He believed that pleasure must be found in the artwork and not in the artist. He was rejected byauthorities for his exaggerated images. In the early stages of his career, he painted dark and dramatic paintings usingbold, thick paint but he eventually started adding light to his paintings. He started to create nature landscapes. He startedto create a new style of painting influenced by Braque and Picasso where he also paved the way to Cubism and createdinspiring work of the 20th Century. In his painting, “Pines and Rocks,” it displayed the simplistic nature of trees and rocks. He used white to emphasizethe lighting and contrast between the objects. He manipulated color by layering and feathering brushstrokes to form thebranches and leaves. The tree bark tends to pop out of the painting as the foreground as the leaves and branches tendto hide in the background of the painting. There is a 3-dimensional view which is created through texture and the use ofcolor. There is also movement in the trees that dance across the painting. The colors used are shades of blue and greenwhich is a very calming and peaceful setting and depicts the nature scene beautifully.
  7. 7. 3. Pablo Picasso - Les Demoiselles dAvignon
  8. 8. Pablo Picasso Pablo Picasso was part of the Cubism movement. In 1907, he created a piece of artwork called, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” which was based on conflicting images of women which may have represented prostitutes and capturedopposing contradictions of beauty. This painting was heavily influenced by African art where he emulated African mask. There are five women displayed in the painting. Each woman holds a bold, firm and powerful pose. They display aconfident image. There eyes staring boldly ahead facing the viewer. There is a bowl of fruit in the foreground which mayrepresent female sexuality. However, there is no feminine qualities displayed based on the abstract, distorted facialexpressions and human proportions. There is one woman who is seated with her back facing the front; however theAfrican mask is turned towards the viewer. The hands and feet are not emphasized and mostly hidden. The use of color isminimal. Although the images are flattened, it tends to have a 3-dimensional view. The painting has geometric forms,which includes sharp, pointed and angular shapes. This technique was widely known as Cubism. There are two women who have African masklike faces while the other women do not have masks but are somewhatdistorted even only having one eye showing. The distorted faces are not flattering or sensual which was not how women were normally portrayed in art during this time.
  9. 9. The Fauve Movement4. Henri Matisse - Landscape at Collioure
  10. 10. Henri Matisse Henri Matisse was part of the first major Modern movement of the 20th Century. After World War I, a new art formemerged from an exhibition called the first Salon d’Automne which displayed the new technique called, “Fauves” meaningwild beast of color in French. Matisse used strong and bold brushstrokes, vivid color and high intensity within his artwork. In 1905, Matisse introduced his piece, “Landscape at Collioure.” The painting displays strong splashes of color whichincluded mixing cool and warm tones to reveal the natural environment. He has an organized pattern even though thebrushstrokes are very erratic. You can perceive the image of trees and rocks which portray movement. The image lookssomewhat rough and chaotic. He tends to use a lot of white space while each brushstroke is part of the overallcomposition that communicates order. The painting has imagery similar to fingerprints and footprints. You can also seethe pathway created towards the bottom part of the painting. While the top portion displays a mountain painted in orangelayered with white paint. The painting has a lot of texture and creates depth according to the shades of color and length ofbrushstrokes performed within the piece. It is simplistic yet complex according to your perception. The painting allows theviewer to interpret the artwork in many visual elements and dimensions. It provokes feelings of freedom. It is also childlikeand playful. The overall composition expresses movement and life.
  11. 11. 5. Andre Derain - Fishing Boats, Collioure
  12. 12. Andre Derain Andre Derain was also part of the exhibition and partnered with Matisse in developing the first major Fauve artworks.He also used strong, bold colors and short brushstrokes in his work. In his piece, “Fishing Boats Collioure” he used complementary colors of blue and orange to portray a fishing boat. Thepainting has a visual energy that tends to pop the image off the canvas. Each part of the boat is divided by color whichconnects the boat as a whole. There are also images of people on the boat and the surrounding area. The colors lightenin the distance to create depth. The ocean is not displayed as a typical blue water scene but uses a hint of lavender as thebackground with strokes of blue and turquoise. The composition is a horizontal format in which your eyes move from rightto left. The most color is placed on the right side of the painting which tends to be a subtle focal point. Derain’s uniqueexpression captured the lifestyle of the culture and people. The composition is visually appealing to the eye because ofthe richness of texture and tones. It tends to provide a warm feel like it took place during the summer due to the orangeand yellow tones used. The painting has a dreamy or fantasy style due to the technique used to portray the images.Although the image is painted in splotches, you can clearly see the outline of the boats. However, it’s not exactly clearhow many boats are docked. Overall, I feel the image captures the working class lifestyle of the people during this time.
  13. 13. Bibliography1. Bernard Zurcher, Rizzoli, “George Braque “Life and Work”, New York, Copyright 1958 English Translation Copyright 1988, Office du Livre S.A. (pgs. 7-9, 12, 39, 42-43, 92-93), Print2. Marilyn Stokstad and Michael W. Cothren, “Art History Eighteenth to Twenty-First Century Art”, Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Laurence King Publishing Ltd, London, Copyright 2011, 2008, 2005, pgs (1019-1020) (1023-1025) Print3. Dore Ashton, “Picasso on Art: A Selection of Views” Da Capo Press, New York, Copyright 1972, pgs. (59-63) Print4. Maurice Raynal, “Cezanne” The World Publishing Company, Ohio, pgs (82,102) Print5. Elderfield, “Matisse in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art” The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Copyright 1978, pgs (80-82), Print6. Cezanne in Provence, WETA, Washington, DC Copyright 2006, Video