Art History- Baroque-20th Century: Cubism: The Liberation of the Artist
This week's assignment will focus on Cubism, a movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. It has often been called the moment in Modernism that represents the "Total Liberation of the Artist," meaning they no longer felt compelled to work from reality; they could play with perspective, assemblage (collages, etc), and creating entirely imaginary worlds. Gone were the expectations to represent the surface of reality. Artists instead chose to break reality down and examine the structures and and angles and completely new ways of seeing.
Please read the following sources in order to gain the fundamentals of what Cubism means and how it evolved, and then watch the following documentary on the life and work of Pablo Picasso:
http://www.theartstory.org/movement-cubism.htm (make sure you click through all the important artists on the left side of the page, and through all of the important artworks at the bottom of the page, in addition to reading the full text)
Assignment PART ONE:
When you have finished reading and watching, please complete one post (3 paragraphs), according to the following prompt:
In at least five, well-developed sentences, summarize the history, characteristics, and concepts of Cubism. Consider the art and artists who came before Cubism and had a huge influence on the style, as well as the artists who pioneered the Cubism as it evolved. What were they trying to accomplish? What did the work look like? What do you think it all meant?
Choose two of the "Key Artists" of Cubism, NOT including Picasso. How did they contribute to the movement? Embed images of one work of art from each of the artists you choose (two images total), and describe these works visually (formal analysis). What kinds of concepts were these artists working with? Were they doing Synthetic Cubism, or Analytical Cubism?
Summarize the BBC documentary on Pablo Picasso. Who were his influences? What different styles did he cycle through in his long and successful career (i.e. his Blue Period, Rose period, Analytical Cubism, etc)? Choose your favorite work by Picasso, and embed an image of it in this third paragraph. Why did you respond to this one in particular?
Assignment PART TWO:
please comment on at least three of your classmates' work in at least three sentences. What do you think of their take on Cubism and the works they chose to highlight in their initial posts?
1. Cubism was an early 20th-century art movement that threw out the concept of single viewpoint painting. Cubism introduced the use of geometric shapes and planes, giving us insight on the reality of objects in space. It was one of the first abstract art styles, causing quite a fuss when it was first shown to the public around 1910. Those who were capable of appreciating the style loved it for the depth and richness portrayed in each painting. Cubism was first developed in the hands of artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. These two pioneers of the style were the ones that developed analytic Cubism as well as Cubist collage. Picasso being perhaps the most well known artist of this time period was heavily influenced by Paul Cezanne, his use of generic forms to simplify nature is what drew Picasso to try a more abstract approach to his work.
Two artists that I find interesting from this period and heavily influenced the style of Cubism are Fernand Leger and Juan Gris. Fernand Leger used Synthetic Cubism in his own experimental fashion. He wanted to maintain the three dimensional illusion in his work, and he greatly relied on the use of cylindrical shapes. One of his more famous works, Three Women (Le Grand Dejeuner) 1921, was seen as a "return to order." This was because of the subject matter, the three women, which was incredibly common for artwork at this time. Leger used Cubist techniques to portray a three dimensional image, highly comprised of cylindrical shapes, but maintained some traditional aspects of art that pleased those who disliked the cubist style.
Juan Gris, another incredibly interesting artist from this period, idolized Pablo Picasso. Picasso was a huge role model for Gris and he made it known to the world what he thought of Picasso. As a tribute to the man he so respected, Gris painted a Portrait of Picasso, 1912. The image is comprised primarily of cool tones of blue, gray, and brown. The entire image is very well balanced, with the subject, Picasso, taking up nearly the entire composition. The entire image is comprised of triangles that create parallel lines in the background. What I enjoy most about Gris's artwork is the feeling of motion they portray.
Pablo Picasso was easily the most influential artist of the Cubism movement. He too however had many influences that made him into the master artist we all know him to be. One of Picasso's biggest influences was the death of his best friend, Carlos Casagemas. After Casagemas took his own life, he began appearing in many of Picasso's artworks. In almost all of these artworks that involved Casagemas, Picasso solely relied on the color blue. Perhaps his choice of color was symbolic of the sadness that he felt at the loss of his dear friend. The power of these blue paintings led to Picasso's first style, known as his "Blue Period." This period of his artwork came to an end when Picasso met a new love, her name was Fernand. Fernand inspired what was known as Picasso's "Rose Period" where he focused on the use of pink. This period was where some of Picasso's most famous artworks were produced. It was very soon after this that Picasso began to develop Cubism.
My favorite work by Picasso is actually from his rose period, it is called Garcon a la pipe. This painting was of a boy holding a pipe in one hand and wearing a wreath of flowers on his head. I love this artwork because of the color and the texture. Picasso blended color so beautifully in this image that you can feel it. Very little is known about the story behind this painting and yet it is one of the most expensive Picasso's to be sold.
2. The history of Cubism begins in the early 20th century and was created by two well known artists named Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Cubism's style interweaves geometric shapes and any color to mimic shapes of nature or humans. Picasso began painting Cubist art pieces in 1907 when he showed Braque one of his first Cubist works. The work of art not only shocked Braque, but captured his attention as well. In response to Picasso's artwork, Braque painted one of his own only a year later sparking the beginning of a new era of painting. The goal of cubism was to rid the artwork of perspective and realism. I think that cubism's goal was to explain through abstract shapes how simple the world and nature is. That not everything is as intricate and finely detailed as you think it is.
Two artists that had an impact on the continuation of the Cubism movement were Georges Braque and Fernand Leger. Georges Braque was one of the co founders of Cubism along with Pablo Picasso. Braque's work focused on balance and consonance. Unlike Picasso, his paintings were centered around pictorial space and structure but were still considered to be apart of the analytical cubism era. One painting that shows this is a piece called Head of a Woman. Braque uses dark colors to resemble the atmosphere within the portrait. The woman's face is crimped and covered with a makeshift scarf. Her eyes are closed and it seems like she is thinking about something that may have affected her in a negative way. The brushstrokes in the painting are both thick and defined. The lines outlining the shape of the woman's head are defined and straight showing how geometric shapes were precursors to the main base of the portrait.
Ferdinand Leger's work was focused around Synthetic Cubism and included straight, dark lines combined with a variety of blandish colors sometimes in 3D form. One painting that portrays his style in a simple fashion is Contrasts of Formsin which Leger creates a makeshift room using geometric shapes and very few colors. It's interesting to note that most of the geometric shapes he uses in this work are cylindrical and/or variations of cylinders. His style was contrived in the Analytical Cubism era.
Along with being one of the father's of Cubism, Pablo Picasso was (and still is) one of the most well known artists from his time. His works helped Cubism prosper and grow into a widespread movement that captured the attention of many artists. In addition to influencing others, Pablo himself was also influenced by different factors that occurred in his life. One of these was his father, Jose Ruiz y Blasco. His father taught him art during the younger years of his life and caused him to focus on realist works. This early upbringing in art helped pave Picasso's drive to want to continue painting and helped him develop a better understanding for who he was as an artist. Picasso's father saw his son's talent and sent him to art school in Barcelona to perfect his skills. It could be assumed that without the father's support of Picasso's artistic abilities, he may never have come to create Cubism. He cycled through many different styles including his blue period, Cubism era, African Period, Rose period, and Surrealism era. My favorite work by Picasso is called The Old Guitarist. I chose to respond to this work because it resonates with how I feel and gives off a feeling of solace in loss.
3. Cubism was a style that was influenced by Cezanne and Picasso in its earliest forms, which consisted of a more simplified style and linear edges. Although Cezanne had some influence, it was the collaboration of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso that really paved the way for cubism to make its name in the art world. During the beginning of the WWI Braque and Picasso worked very closely together, collaborating and sharing their artistic ideas and style to create incredible paintings such as The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro, and The Portuguese. These paintings featured multiple viewpoints and the use of simplistic geometric shapes was exploited. There was also a large emphasis on colliding/interlocking planes, creating a very appealing, but confusing layout. Cubism was such a polarizing style to what the norm was, and these artists sought to remove perspective and realism, diving into a more expressive form.
Excluding Picasso, the other three key artists in Cubism include Braque, Cezanne, and Jean Metzinger. Cezanne's paintings featured a style that included very flat shapes, little planes, repeated brush strokes, and multiple perspectives. Cubism takes the main stylistic aspects of Cezanne and implements them, with a few other major differences. Braque is one of the most influential artists after Picasso and did many synthetic cubism works. For example, one work The Portuguese features a very dark painting with simple geometric shapes. The planes within the painting are all intersecting, yet the collaboration of the different viewpoints come together to create a single image. Jean Metzinger was also a major Cubist artist, and one of his works is called Tea Time (Le gouter). This is an analytical cubism painting that features a woman with a teaspoon and cup of tea. The image features the main aspects of cubism, with multiple perspectives, intersecting planes, and heavy use of simple geometry. The cube and straight-line shapes meld together to create an image of a woman drinking tea, yet there is a very minimal use of three-dimensional shapes. Shading in the image creates a more dimensional image, allowing for a more realistic image which lines up with the analytical style. I really enjoy the analytical style because it still keeps the natural image, but reduces it using the main features of cubism.
Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous artists of all time and the most renowned cubism artist, who wanted to be a Picador; if not an artist. He constantly tried to stretch the boundaries of his artistic style and was influenced by other artists such as Cezanne, and Carlos Casa Gameis who was his greatest friend. Gameis later killed himself which greatly affected his art, causing Picasso to only paint in blue leading to the creation of blue period. Picasso was obsessed with drawing at a young age, later learned classical painting, only painting blue painting, and soon the rose period. The rose period was influenced by his love for a woman named Fernand, which featured a similar style to a blue period but had an array of warm colors. It was later after his nude paintings that Pablo Picasso began to develop the new style of Cubism, which featured multiple perspectives, simple geometry, and intersecting planes. My favorite painting from Picasso is Guitar (I love Eva) which features an acoustic guitar in the analytical style of cubism. I particularly enjoy this painting because it has the aspects of cubism while keeping the main object in focus and centered on the canvas. You can clearly see the base of the guitar as the handle and other pieces shift out on different planes. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of Picasso's artwork, although I can agree that he was one of the best artists to live.
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