Cubism is one of the first forms of abstract art. Cubism was a movement in painting that sought to break down objects into basic shapes of cubes, spheres, cylinders, and cones. Cubism originated in France and was influenced by African sculptures and by Paul Cezanne. The first cubist works were those in which objects, landscapes, and people are represented as many-sided solids. This enables you to see various views of the object at the same time. Later, cubism changed using a flatter type of abstraction, in which the complete pattern, becomes more important, and the objects represented are largely indecipherable. At first, most artists painted with little color. Most paintings were either monochromatic or gray, blue, brown, and white.” The final phase of cubism is called synthetic. In this phase color reappears as a primary element in the artwork.
Cezanne was an artist who led the way to cubism or abstract art. Before Cezanne, artists would portray the world realistically. It is above all CÃ©zanne’s obsession with formal elements of composition and his use of color as tone rather than the Impressionist pursuit of light on surface that makes his art so important to those who followed. CÃ©zanne’s works made it possible for artists to start to question what they saw, the way in which they saw it, and how they interpreted and represented what was in front of them. Cezanne felt that paintings should reflect artist’s sensations made into a pictorial form by brush strokes, color, and lines.
He was known to work slowly and use colors to build shapes. In the still-life pictures that he made of fruits and bowls one can tell that he worked slowly as there are different and contradicting shadows in his pictures. Early in his career Cezanne loved to paint Sainte-Victoire landscapes. Later he painted portraits such as Woman with a Coffee Pot and The Card Players. When he began to paint landscape again he used the bathers in his paintings. Later Cezanne would have a great impact on Picasso’s paintings.
Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous cubists. As he grew up his father encouraged him to become an artist. From 1901 to 1904 is called the Blue Period because Picasso used blue tones when he painted and his paintings showed poverty, death, and blindness. The Blue Period marks a deliberate step towards a plastic representation of form and emotional subject matter.” From 1904-1906, the Rose Period is when Picasso painted circuses, actors, and harlequin. This is when he visits family in Barcelona, Spain, and refreshes his memories of Romanesque and Gothic art. Even more important to him at this time was the discovery of Iberian sculpture dating from pre-Roman times, examples of which had been recently acquired by the Louvre. They attracted him by their unorthodox proportions, their disregard for refinement, and their rude barbaric strength. These influences rapidly gained an important place in his work, and lead to the sculptural distortions of nudes painted on his return to Paris.”
From 1907-1909 is called the Negro Period. The paintings of Cezanne became familiar to Picasso. Picasso had also discovered the greatness of an obscure old man, Douanier Rousseau. These were the years when the power of primitive art imported from Africa and the South Seas was beginning to be noticed by certain painters in Paris, and styles which had formally been despised as barbaric began to be recognized as possessing great emotive strength.” Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to recapture primitive art. The new style depended in particular on a simplification of form and a clarification of the methods by which it was depicted.
With a disregard for classical tradition, distortions were used freely to emphasize volume and convey emotional sensation. Picasso said I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. Picasso was increasingly drawn to making creations according to his own internal vision. In African art he had found a conceptual art which was not based on immediate visual reactions to a model. The original impact had been violent. It had forged the first real link between African art and Western ideas and it was followed during the two years that succeeded the painting of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
At this point Braque and Picasso began to clarify and systematize a new conception of the painters’ experience. They felt that they should analyze an object, break it down shapes, flatten them, change colors, and reassemble them so that they could be conceived from all angles. This method was called analytical cubism. Synthetic cubism is seen in the painting The Three Musicians at this point new technique of paper collage proved to be an important discovery. There was a return to color, and texture became very important.
The difference between the two phases of cubism may also be defined in terms of picture space: facet cubism retains a certain kind of depth, the painted surface acts as a window through which we still perceive remnants of the familiar perspective space of the Renaissance. This space lies behind the picture plane and has no visible limits; it may contain objects that are hidden from our view. In collage cubism, on the contrary, the picture space lies in front of the plane of the tray; Space is created not by illusionistic devices such as modeling or foreshortening, but by actual overlapping of layers of pasted materials.
Later Picasso made many paintings of female figures where he emphasized the fullness of their form. During the war he painted Guernica which combines a violent surrealist distortion and color. After the war he painted The Three Dancers which was the first painting to show violent distortions in which the human form is torn apart, he invents new anatomies incorporating the world of dreams mixed with reality. Picasso did sculptures, lithographs, and ceramics. In many of his artworks you can see a bull. As originally conceived by Picasso and Braque, Cubism offered a formal discipline of subtle balance, used for traditional subjects- still life, portraiture, the nude. Other painters, however, saw in the new style a special affinity with the geometric precision of engineering that made it uniquely attuned to the dynamism of modern times.
Georges Braque led the development of Cubism with Picasso. The qualities which distinguish his Cubist paintings from Picasso’s- his fluent painterliness and his natural ability as a rich but subtle colorist- predominant in a work like Guitar and Jug the still life remained his principle theme from the Gueridon Series to the climatic Atelier Series in which the scope of the still life extends to include the studio, the artist, his model and even the painting itself.” Many of his works portray geometric forms of the subjects, yet the subjects in many of his paintings are unrecognizable.
There are two other cubists worth mentioning. Ferdinand Ledger uses modern technology in his paintings. He uses machines, construction workers, and the workingman in many of his paintings. Juan Gris uses Synthetic cubism and his paintings create their own reality rather than imitating the reality of nature.
The art critics are correct when they say that Cubism changed art. The cubists Braque and Picasso developed art independent of reality. They felt an artist could look beyond the superficial appearance of what they painted. The artists became free from his traditional obligation to paint natural appearances as illustrated in many of their paintings. An artist was able to distort, invent, create, and put their dreams into their paintings. Many people use the collage, which they developed, today. I feel that although the paintings are broken up into geometric shapes one can see parts of the object that the artists wanted them to represent. This indicates to me that their pictures were planned rather than arbitrarily done.