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6. July, 2010 / Idun

Cubism

In the 20th century Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque pioneered in the avant-garde art movement that revolutionised European painting and sculpture; Cubism.


Picasso, Woman playing Mandolin

During the late 19th and 20th century, the cultural elite of Europe discovered African, Micronesian, and Native American art for the first time. The artists of the time were intrigued by the simplicity and stark power of the foreign cultures, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, and Henri Matisse. There are two major branches to the artistic movement of Cubism; Analytic and Synthetic.

Analytic Cubism was developed between 1908 and 1912, and was the form that initiated the Cubism art movement. As the name implies, the analytic cubists “analysed” the natural world and its forms and reduced the forms into basic geometric parts, creating a completely two-dimensional picture plane. In analytic cubism there was hardly any use of colour, only a monochromatic scheme that often included grey, blue and ochre. The focus was instead set towards the use of geometric forms such as the cylinder, sphere and the cone to represent the natural world. Both Picasso and Braque was moving towards abstraction, but would leave a hint of their original subject. Much inspiration was found in the work of Paul Cézanne, who said to observe and treat the natural world as if it was composed of cubes, spheres, cylinders, and cones.

Synthetic Cubism, the second movement within Cubism, was developed between 1912 and 1919 by Juan Gris and others in addition to the already well-established cubists Picasso and Braque. Synthetic Cubism introduced new characteristics through different textures and surfaces, a variety of merged subject matter, collage elements, and papier collé. Synthetic Cubism introduced collage elements as an important ingredient to fine art. It was quite common to include newspaper clippings and sheet music into the paintings. Where analytic Cubism was an analysis of subjects and pulling them apart into planes, synthetic Cubism would push several objects together. Synthetic Cubism was less pure, had fewer planar shifts, and less shading – creating a flatter space.

Cubism did not only apply to paintings, but also to sculpture, architecture, and to some extent writing. Gertrude Stein used repetition and repetitive phrases in her writing as building blocks in both passages and whole chapters. Cubism made itself apparent in the Czech Republic through the architects Josef Chochol, Pavel Janák and Josef Gočár.

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