What is cubism?
Cubism came as a backlash to impressionism
Woman in a Hat, one of Pablo Picasso's famous paintings
PABLO PICASSO and Georges Braque founded cubism, inspired by tribal art (Braque later refuted this) and the works of Paul Cezanne. Cezanne's statement that "everything in nature takes its form from the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder," was the basis for this influential art form that started in Paris in 1908.
Considered a backlash to the impressionist period where emphasis was on light and colour, in cubism, subject matter is broken up, analysed and reassembled in an abstracted form. Cubism emphasised the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane where reality was fragmented and several sides were seen simultaneously.
In 1908, Braque and Raoul Dufy visited L'Estaque, a place often painted by Cezanne. They created landscapes with simplified forms and a limited variety of colours. The paintings were exhibited to a vitriolic reception by critics. Art critic Louis Vauxcelles unwittingly provided the movement with its name when he wrote: "M. Braque scorns form and reduces everything, sites, figures and houses to geometric schemas and cubes."
Picasso and Braque broke homogenous compositions into planes with open edges, denying depth and colour was reduced to a grey-tan while brushstrokes were small to create vibrations of light. This phase was called analytical cubism. Synthetic cubism (1911 and 1913) followed, where letters, fragments of words, musical notes and material elements like sawdust and sand were introduced to make the picture look more like an object. Colour returned to cubism in 1912 with the creation of another significant form the papiers colles or collage. While cubism faded away in the 1920s, it influenced art movements like orphism, purism, precisionism, futurism, constructivism, and to a certain extent, expressionism.
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