Revision Cubism

Posted: January 20, 2013 in Art Movements

Cubism (Analytic and Synthetic)

Cubism – Term coined in 1908 by Louis Vauxcelles after hearing Matisse refer to a painting by Braque as nothing but “little cubes.” Like Impressionism and Fauvism, the term was originally derogatory.
Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Raymond Duchamp-Villon.
c. 1907-1918.
Analytic Cubism (earlier phase of Cubism): subject shown as if seen from several angles simultaneously (traditional perspective is abandoned); fragmented space. Synthetic Cubism (later phase of Cubism): separate elements are brought together in a layered collage look. Lettering sometimes added, as well as real materials (newspapers, labels, etc.).
Subject Matter:
Portraits, figure studies, still lifes, landscapes.

Style: Analytic Cubism: dull, muddy, facets of color. Objects and background treated with similar concern. Synthetic Cubism: collage look, stencils, actual materials, usually vibrant color.

PAUL CÉZANNE (1839-1906) ‘Bibemus Quarry’, 1895 (oil on canvas)

Influenced by: Cézanne’s later work; African, Oceanic and Iberian sculpture; Rousseau’s “primitivism.”

LEFT: Pablo Picasso, ‘Head of a Woman’, 1907 (oil on canvas) RIGHT: Dan Mask from West Africa

Will influence:
Orphism, Futurism, Cubo-Futurism, Constructivism, and Art Deco.

“To be pure imitation, painting must make an abstraction from appearances.” – Georges Braque

GEORGES BRAQUE (1882-1963) ‘Violin and Jug’, 1910 (oil on canvas)

Analytic Cubism 1910-1912 – Characteristics

1.    Analytical Cubism was concerned with breaking down forms analytically into simplified geometric forms across the picture. Objects and figures were broken down into geometric units, usually into two or three shapes by breaking the object down into fragments and then reassemble it.

2.    Objects were shown in a prismatic way so that the viewer can see all sides at once.

3.    Analytical Cubism rejected Single point perspective and sought to show the object from multiple angles, and in differing lights. It was a conceptual image of the object, rather than an optical image – an intellectual experiment with structure.  Objects were displayed not in one place, in one time, in one space, within one light source, but from many vantage points.

4.    Structure was paramount and colour was downplayed so that the viewer was not distracted.

5.    They limited their palette to monochromatic earth tones and muted silvers, reducing the colour palette  to several shades of one or two colours. to better to maintain clarity between the forms’ fragmented planes.

6.    These were basically Cézannian colours: ochre’s for the planes, black for the contours and white for the stippling on the surface.  From time to time, green will be used, but sparingly.

7.    Their limited use of colour avoided any reference to mood or emotion By reducing the palette, Picasso and Braque were able to paint in colours or tones, which were neutral in their associations.  Red and blue, for example, are colours with “moods,” yellow might be associated with an object, such as a lemon or the sun.  The suggestion of mood or object through colours could lead to ideas of theme or narrative or of symbolism—something Picasso and Braque avoided in order to concentrate to the formal experimentation of their paintings..

8.    There was no realistic modelling of figures and objects were represented in space that employed small, tilted planes, set in a shallow space which  flattens all surfaces into a single plane.

9.    Their subject matter was restricted to the traditional genres of portraiture and still life;

10.   Analytical Cubists works were often very similar in appearance and style, but over time, their separate interests showed through. Braque tended to show objects exploding out or pulled apart into fragments, while Picasso rendered them magnetized, with attracting forces compelling elements of the pictorial space into the center of the composition.

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) ‘Still Life with Chair Caning’, 1912 (oil on canvas)

Synthetic Cubism (1912 – 1914)

1.    The image was built up  (synthesized) from new elements and shapes and was a symbolic style of art..

2.    Separate elements are brought together in a layered collage look of mixed media. They were the first to use collage in art.

3.    They also introduced the use of stencilled lettering as well as real materials (newspapers, labels, etc.).

4.    Instead of relying on depicted shapes and forms to represent objects, Picasso and Braque began to explore the use of foreign objects as abstract signs.

5.    Braque also began mixing materials such as sand or sawdust with paint to create interesting textures.

6.    Other characteristics were a greater use of colour and greater interest in decorative effects.

7.    The created a flatter space than with analytical cubism.

8.    The paintings were composed of fewer and simpler forms based to a lesser extent on natural objects.

9.    In synthetic Cubism the emphasis had shifted from the visual to conceptual. The object is conceived through a synthesis of one’s impressions and the meanings one gives to them. This synthesis does not require the accumulation of all the visual aspects; it can be created by reducing the object’s characteristics to certain essential clues (reduction).

10.   Synthetic Cubism is also characterized by ambiguity. Since the painted or sculpted object no longer represents an existing object but is instead an object in itself, a contradiction arises between the two realities: that of the “conventional” object, which exists in one’s mind, and that of the new one, created by the artist, which exists both as the subject of the creation and as the creation itself.

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