Cubism

We are going to look at Cubism, an early C20th art movement which was founded by Pablo Picasso(1881-1973) and George Braque (1882-1963) and as both liked to create horses we can continue to keep the equine theme alive. Here is one of Braque's bronze horses Petit Cheval.
And here is a horse from Picasso's famous Guernica which we will return to at some stage to study in depth. And the Hero Image for today is a slice from one of Picasso's remarkable paintings Three Musicians.
In Cubism the artist used geometric shapes incorporated into abstract designs resulting in paintings that appear fragmented & abstracted. It is considered to be one of the most influential art movements of the C20th.

Proto-Cubism (Early Cubism) was a transition phase where the artists began experimenting with geometrization of form and reduced the colours in their palette as a reaction to Fauvism which was discussed in yesterday’s Blog. Here is Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) considered to be an example of this stage of his development and demonstrating the reduced palette. And here is a wonderful early cubist painting by George Braque titled Little Harbour in Normandy. Notice the subtle, muted tones and a composition of geometric shapes

I also want to show you the early work of Jean Metzinger (1883-1956). He is not so well known but his control of the palette was remarkable as was his understanding of shape arrangement. This is Nature morte (Still Life).
Metzinger was an intelligent theoretician of Cubism, writing on the subject, noting that Picasso & Braque had dismissed traditional perspective & merged multiple views of an object in a single image. One of my favourite works done by Metzinger is At the Cycle-Race Track (Au Vélodrome).
And his Paysage Cubiste (1914) shows an even stronger use of colour and form.

Metzinger wrote the first major treatise on Cubism titled Du "Cubisme" (1912) with Albert Gleizes (1881-1953) who was a major player in the Cubism Movement. This is Gleizes' Portrait of Jacques Nayral.

Gleizes' influence extended to Germany to the Bauhaus, the most influential modernist art school of the C20th. Teaching here were the likes of the Expressionists Paul Klee & Wassily Kandinsky, artists we will meet later. Significantly, Gleizes spent four crucial years in New York, and played an important role in making America aware of modern art. From my reading, as I know nothing of American Cubism, I gather that the closest movement to this style was Precisionism which was called by some Cubist-Realism. I have referred to the work of Donald Bartlett Doe Cubism in America (Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery) 1985, to gain a better understanding of this subject. Doe speaks of the works of Charles Sheeler as seen here in Ballardvale and Stacks in Celebration. Charles Demuth with Sail in Two Movements and the rather enigmatically titled My Egypt. And Georgia O'Keeffe, though I could find only one of her works to fit this style.

Precisionism for all accounts was the first indigenous modern art movement, emerging after WW1 and lasting until the early 1930s. As Doe said: In these paintings, the inherent geometry of colonial architecture or railyards and factories,
or steamships and locomotives, were
pared of detail and awarded a shimmering
kind of clarity in sunlight often given the geometric
character of Cubist planes.

I think I have given you enough to think about today. I have just remembered the work of Max Weber and Mr Doe has introduced me to the work of Ralston Crawford another artist worthy of our consideration. We will look at their works another day. In terms of Picasso, Guernica (1937) was his most famous work done in the Cubism style. It's so complicated we will deal with it separately. And of course, I can hear many of you asking Did Cubism play a part in the development of Australian art? All will be revealed!

And speaking of being revealed, let’s take a break from Art Movements and look at art in a different way. We are going to study Humans as an Art Form. Is this me taking up the challenge of Looking at Nude paintings? Is this me trying to compete with Hannah Gadsby? You will have to wait until tomorrow!

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on anewman@netspace.net.au or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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