Good Essays

Before the twentieth century, art was recognized as an imitation of nature. Paintings and portraits were made to look as realistic and three-dimensional as possible, as if seen through a window. Artists were painting in the flamboyant fauvism style. French postimpressionist Paul Cézannes flattened still lives, and African sculptures gained in popularity in Western Europe when artists went looking for a new way of showing their ideas and expressing their views. In 1907 Pablo Picasso created the painting Les Damsoilles d'Avignon, depicting five women whose bodies are constructed of geometric shapes and heads of African masks rather then faces. This new image grew to be known as 'cubism'. The name originating from the critic Louis Vauxcelles, who after reviewing French artist and fellow Cubist Georges Braque exhibition wrote of 'Bizzeries Cubiques', and that objects 'had been reduced to cubes (Arnheim, 1984). Cubism changed the way art was represented and viewed.

Picasso, together with Braque, presented a new style of painting that showed the subject from several different angles simultaneously. The result was intended to show the object in a more complete and realistic view than traditional art, to convey a feeling of being able to move around within the painting. ?Cubism abandoned traditional notions of perception, foreshadowing and modeling and aimed to represent solidarity and volume in a three-dimensional plane without converting the two-dimensional canvas illusionalistically into a three-dimensional picture space? (Chivers, 1998). Picasso and Braque pioneered the movement and worked so closely together that they had difficulty telling their own work apart. They referred to each other as Orville and Wilbur, knowing that their contributions to art were every bit as revolutionary as the first flight (Hoving, 1999).

Cubism was divided into two categories. Analytical Cubism, beginning in 1907, visually laid out what the artist thought was important about the subject rather then just mimicking it. Body parts and objects within the picture were broken down into geometric shapes that were barley recognizable as the original image. Braque wrote that ?senses deform and the spirit forms?. Analytical Cubism restricted the use of color to simple and dull hues so the emphasis would lie more on the structure. Cézanne said, ?nature should be ...

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...ople a different perspective with which to look at reality and evoked new emotions. Cubism set a new standard for what is accepted as a work of art. ?Art no longer had to be aesthetically right or nice to be a masterpiece?(Hoving, 1999). It also set the stage for other artists to test new styles that would have been considered too unorthodox before. Cubism truly embodied the phrase, ?art is in the eye of the beholder.?


Arnheim, Rudolf. Art and Visual Perception, a psychology of the creative eye.

Los Angelas: University of California Press, 1984.

Arnheim, Rudolf. Visual Thinking.

Los Angelas: University of California Press, 1984.

Chilvers, Ian, Harold Osborne, Dennis Farr. The Oxford Dictionary of Art.

New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Hoving, Thomas. Art for Dummies.

Foster City California: IDG Books Worldwide, 1999.

Miki, Tamon. What is Cubism? The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. November 29,1999.

Robinson, Walter. Instant Art History, from cave art to pop art.

New York: Bryon Press Visual Publications, 1995.

Schaffner, Ingrid. The Essential Picasso.

New York: Harry
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