Skip to main content

lucy-johnson
27th February 2013

Surviving Supper: Cubism

Dinner-party conversation essentials with Lucy J
Categories:
TLDR

Background

It is commonly thought that Cubism was spawned when Picasso came back to Paris from Spain in 1907. He painted Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon which although not considered a Cubist painting itself, is considered key in the development of Cubism as is the influence of Cézanne and ‘primitive art’. Picasso and Braque like ‘mountaineers roped together’ developed a new way of depicting reality in painting that was simultaneously representational and non-naturalistic. Cubism came close to total abstraction but always retained some element of our visual world within the composition. Braque and Picasso rejected the traditions of perspective and representation and instead, ‘painted forms as they think them, not as they see them’ – Picasso. They treated nature in terms of geometrical shapes and often represented several angels at once in order to re-invent traditional subject matter. It is important to remember how shocking this new style would’ve appeared for the art audience in 1907 when all the conventions of painting were dropped.

Style

Flat multi-faceted surface made up of geometric shapes

Seemingly floating planes with sharp interpenetrating angles

Monochromatic colour schemes generally of browns and blacks

Few recognisable forms and often lettering was incorporated both to emphasise the flatness of the canvas while at the same time adding an element of reality

Use of multiple viewpoints

There were in fact two different forms of Cubism: Analytical and Synthetic. Both phases have the same principles as listed above. The main difference was the increase both in colour and decorative elements in Synthetic Cubism which was also more visually simplistic. Another key development when we consider Synthetic Cubism is the addition of collage and ‘ready-mades’ which displaced the skill of the artist being central to the work of art and can be seen as the beginnings of the Conceptual art we are surrounded by now.

Key Players

Pablo Picasso – co-founder of Cubism

Georges Braque – co-founder of Cubism

Juan Gris – pioneer of Synthetic Cubism

Paintings to Know

Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon – Pablo Picasso 1907 (MoMA, New York)

The Portuguese – Georges Braque 1911 (Kunstmuseum, Basel)

Still Life With Chair Caning – Pablo Picasso 1912 (Musée Picasso)

The Sunblind – Juan Gris 1914 (Tate, London)


More Coverage

A celebration of Jewish art in Manchester: Introducing Synagogue Scratch

This month, Synagogue Scratch is returning to Manchester Jewish Museum. The series represents a unique opportunity to enjoy new, groundbreaking performances by Jewish artists, in the museum’s beautifully preserved 1874 Synagogue.

Making Manchester #3: Eleanor Haigh

Performing across the UK from Edinburgh Fringe to London, Eleanor Haigh embraces the spotlight with a multitude of talent. She breaks down what draws her to the arts and the biggest challenges facing artists today.

Horoscopes: Art meets star signs

This week we’re helping you align your planets with paintings. Check out the artist whose style suits your star sign.

Making Manchester #2: Laurent Swyngedauw

Continuing our Mancunian series, Laurent Swyngedauw tells us the best spots for capturing great shots in Manchester, and how make a photograph your own