Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Nude in an Armchair, summer 1909, oil on canvas; 36 1/4 × 28 3/4 inches. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Developed by Pablo Picasso and George Braque, Cubism is one of the most significant developments in the history of modern art.
Pablo Picasso’s route to Cubism began with the simplification of forms inspired by African masks and ancient sculpture. The painter George Braque, associated with the Fauves, was deeply interested in the work of Paul Cézanne, the Post-Impressionist who relied on pure areas of blocky color rather than clearly defined linear forms that he then organized within the canvas disregarding perspectival accuracy.
The collaboration between Picasso and Braque in the development of Cubism is legendary in the history of art. Their intense working relationship lasted months in which the artists visited each other daily to discuss their work. Soon, they stopped signing their individual works and only declared a painting finished when both agreed. Recognizing that what they were doing was the creation of something wholly new and modern, Picasso and Braque referred to each other jokingly as Orville and Wilbur Wright, the American brothers who pioneered the development of flight a few years ahead of the development of Cubism.
- For Cubism, download and use the ‘Cubism worksheet’ while doing the readings in the order listed below. This worksheet will take you through each reading and video helping to gather, define and organize key information to understand Cubism.As you are reading, fill in information on the ‘Cubism worksheet.’ Bring your completed worksheet to class for in-class review.
- Start with the short essay on the Met’s website, giving you an overview of Cubism: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/cube/hd_cube.htm
- Read another short essay that defines some key terms related to Cubism. Look up these terms on dictionary.com: simultaneity, conceptual and perceptional if you are unclear about their exact meaning. LINK: http://arthistory.about.com/od/modernarthistory/a/cubism_10one.htm
Next, you are going to read various material relating to Cubism on the Khan Academy website, including:
- Read ‘Picasso’s Early Work’ essay for an overview: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/a/picassos-early-work
- Read ‘Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein.’ Here is where we see the beginning of Picasso’s contribution to Cubism in how he simplifies her facial features and treats her face like a flat, two-dimensional form or a mask in some areas. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/a/picasso-portrait-of-gertrude-stein
- Read ‘Inventing Cubism’ essay, where Braque’s interest in Cézanne leads to his contribution to Cubism. LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/a/inventing-cubism
Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon:
Picasso’s painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is extremely significant for the development of Cubism. Some ideas about Cubism are developed here, including the abbreviations of form influenced by African masks and sculptures and the beginning use of multiple visual perspectives or multiple points of view of the same object brought together within one image. Other equally significant aspects of Cubism only come later after continued experimentation and collaboration with Braque.
- Read the essay about Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon paying special attention to the section about the perception of space. LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/a/picasso-les-demoiselles-davignon
- Listen to the video of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. This video should serve to familiarize you with the painting within the context of art history. This video is not going to teach you about Cubism, but it will serve as an introduction to major aspects of art history that Picasso rejects with this painting and how what he incorporates marks the beginning of Cubism. LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/v/picasso-les-demoiselles-d-avignon-1907
- Listen to the video about Braque’s painting The Viaduct at L’Estaque. LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/v/braque-le-viaduc-l-estaque-the-viaduct-at-l-estaque-1908
- ‘Analytic Cubism’ is the name for the first phase that describes the two artists’ fulfillment of the original goals and ideas about Cubism. They figured out what they were trying to do as they made paintings in the Analytic Cubist style. Read the short treatment of Braque’s portrait painting The Portuguese. LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/a/braque-the-portuguese
- On the worksheet, add any relevant terms to the area about Analytic Cubism.
- Picasso’s Still Life with Chair Caning is the beginning of the second phase of Cubism, the Synthetic Cubist phase. Read the essay that explains this transition and listen to the video about the artwork:
- Essay LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/a/picasso-still-life-with-chair-caning
- Video LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/v/picasso-still-life-with-chair-caning-1912
On the worksheet, add any relevant terms to the area about Synthetic Cubism.
- Optional: Listen to the videos about Picasso’s ‘Guitar, Glass, Bottle’: LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/v/moma-picasso-glassguitarbottle
- And Picasso’s Guitar: LINK: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/v/the-language-of-representation-pablo-picasso-s-guitar-1912-14
For class next week – summary of the 1 required thing to do:
- Read and take notes on Cubism. Bring the completed Cubism worksheet to class for in-class peer review.
Remember / FYI:
The Cubism worksheet is available above and on Blackboard.