Cubist art approached visual reality from a revolutionary track, defying the accepted norms of society of how works should be presented. There were five revolutionary ways in which Cubism was presented.
Mediterranean Landscape – Picasso; Musical Instruments – Braque
- It sought a new pictorial experience – not repeating constant flux of artistic tradition but relying on personal reconstructions of what the artist thought was real – not based on tradition, but on insights and instincts.
- It dissected the volume of its subjects – its volumetric form.
- It simplified pictorial space – with no perspective or space – no illusion to spacial depth, with the flatness of the picture plane.
- It approached, examined and experimented with construction of 3D images on 2D picture planes.
- It discovered the essence of reality of volume in space and represented it without distortion – Simultaneity.
The Cubists tried to rewrite the rule, in particular the old problem of a 3D image on a 2D picture plane. The Egyptians had solved the problem of depicting the whole of the subject by showing the eyes front on in a profile. They maintained the flatness of the picture plane surface while implying volume within the subject matter.
Portait de Femme – Braque; Picasso – Woman Blue Hat
Pablo Picasso and George Braque based their works on Cezanne’s ideas, deciding to convert the cubic volume into planes to create a whole new pictorial reality. Cubism rejected the emotional way of representation – they wanted to reconstruct as a formal style of art, which could be expressive as well. they worked side by side pushing the ideas along – analysing the picture plane and turning the volume into planes. Picasso and Braque were the co-originators of Cubism, although there were no theories or manifestos written about it until this was done late by critics.
There were other developments during the developement of Cubism – Xrays, microscopes, aircrafts, Freud, etc. These changes were reflected in art. There were no specific rules, but many styles of Cubism – Formal, Expressive, Interpretive. Cubism liberated the artists completely, from medium, form, content, and subject, e.g. sculpture of BULL’S HEAD.
Head of a Woman (First Cubist Sculpture) – Picasso – Bull’s Head
The Cubists made constructive sculpture of odd materials. Shapes also were no longer completely descriptive – not the underlying shapes – they could be avoided if the artist chose. They didn’t have to use symbolic meanings. The content was altered, with no need for a message, e.g. happy or sad. Also with the subject matter – there was no need to paint things as they were. This released artists from the need to imitate nature, while their art still related to life and nature.
Cubism was one of the greatest revolutionary contributions in artistic space since the 15th Century. The concept of looking into the canvas was changed to looking onto the canvas – it broke the ‘window of the world’ – giving no spacial depth while suggesting volume and depth in a different way. They used the idea of ambiguous space by overlapping, with colours advancing and receding, and of an arbitrary nature.
Man on a Balcony – Albert Gliezes 1912; Portrait of Picasso – Gris 1912
PHASES OF CUBISM
1. Proto-Cubism – Cezanneism 1907 – 1910
2. Analytical Cubism – 1910 – 1912
3. Synthetic Cubism – 1912 – 1914
- Proto-Cubism: Depth through slabs of colour, using planes – addressed volume as planes – each plane had a value – could create ambiguous spacial references – cool colour planes receded, warm colour planes advanced. Each composition had various value planes. It freed images from representational state – used transparent overlappings, threw away some of the planes, and emphasized patterns.
- Analytical Cubism: was overlapping of transparent colours, removing colours, discarding concern for the subject matter – pattern-making with emphasis on ambiguous space. Pictures became monochromatic to create whole new visual – they reshuffled the planes.
- Synthetic Cubism: They recomposed planes of volume into whole new picture images. They made collages, geometric shapes that became organic images. They used mixed media which involved building depth up on the canvas, with the interest in its visual image rather than its subject matter. It had no relationship to reality, but to ideas.
Pablo Picasso Individual characteristics.
George Braque Revolutionary characteristics.
Juan Gris Pictorial analytical style.
Guernica – Picasso
Pablo Picasso realised what Cezanne was doing, and understood the theories he wrote about, and followed them through in a revolutionary way. He searched for different ways to arrange the elements of the subject on the picture plane. He was faithful to what he was doing – was a leader, an innovator. He was more than a Cubist painter – he did lithographs, sculpture, drawings, constructions – moving from on to the other freely, intuitively, working on them simultaneously at times.
The Musician’s Table – Braque 1913
George Braque worked in tandem with Picasso. His work was Fauvish initially, he created subtle relationships in his paintings, colour to pattern to texture. He worked in the synthetic stage, reconstructive work in a lyrical style. He showed the ideology of respect for the surface of the painting, reflected good design sense, and a flattening of space. He used simultaneity, harmonious colours, motif making. He developed Cubism to a high degree. He also worked in stained glass, art designed jewellery, and lithographs.
Clock and Bottle – Gris
Juan Gris was usually colourful, aimed to create objects not found in nature, composed with abstractions – started with colours suggesting the subject to him. He worked with abstractions of colour and shapes – collages. He advanced on to Synthetic Cubism (intuitive creativity) then on to Surrealism.
Soldiers Playing Cards – Leger
Fernand Leger had machine precision evident in his work, and also factories. He produced art that celebrated modern urban life, with which he showed dissatisfaction later, with his figures becoming robot-like, de-humanised. He experimented with film, designed sets, did series paintings (builders, constructions, bicycle riders, machinery), mosaics, murals, stained glass, ceramic structures, and he extended 2D art into different media. He created stability and movement together by interlocking planes of volume together. He disassociated colours to shapes and outlines. His works were puzzle-like – disassociating on element of art from another.
Simultaneous Windows on the City 1912 – Delauney – Orphism
Robert Delauney was lyrical, vital, sensual with his use of colour, with an interest in the music/colour relationship like Kandinsky. He eliminated the reference to subject, to volume, bringing in light and rhythm by use of colour. Along with Kandinsky, he was a pioneer of Non-Figurative art. With his wife Sonia, he co-founded the ORPHISM art movement, with colour forces, and abstractions with rhythmic circles and discs, thus breaking the rigidity of Cubism.
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(C) Jud House 18/09/2016
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