Cubism

By Hubbard, Guy | Arts & Activities, October 2001 | Go to article overview

Cubism


Hubbard, Guy, Arts & Activities


THINGS TO LEARN

* A distinctly new kind of art first appeared in 1907. It was called "Cubism." It began in Paris, France, with a Frenchman, Georges Braque, and a Spaniard, Pablo Picasso.

The goal of Cubist artists was an improved kind of realism made by changing objects into flat-sided geometric forms that showed very little depth. Picasso and Braque also believed that showing only one view of an object didn't explain it well enough, so they included several views at once.

Cubist artists were not trying to imitate appearances, however. Georges Braque explained that the goal of Cubist art was in the reality of the mind, not the senses. For these reasons, Cubist artists did not try to paint realistically.

* Braque and Picasso did not begin with the idea that they were inventing a new and important art form; their experiments were done mainly for themselves and a few wealthy people who were interested in art and bought their paintings. They were joined later by other artists, most importantly Robert Delaunay and Juan Gris.

* Cubism was the first art movement of many that appeared throughout the 20th century that were related to each other and called "Modernism." About 30 years ago, Modernism finally began to be replaced with a new art movement called "Post Modernism."

* The original Cubist artists were active until the start of World War I, when most artistic activity in Europe came to an end. At the beginning of the movement, Cubist painters used only dull, dark colors, but later they began to work with brighter colors.

* Although Cubism was an entirely new way of thinking about painting, Picasso and Braque did not invent it out of nowhere. They gathered many of their ideas from the work of earlier artists, most notably Paul Cezanne, El Greco, Dominique Ingres and Georges Seurat. In addition, they began to adapt ideas from African art that was just then being imported into France.

* As Cubism evolved, artists began to alter what it had been like when they first started. Some of them divided up the shapes into smaller and smaller flat surfaces (planes). This kind of Cubism was called "Fragmented Cubism."

Other artists began to experiment further with the idea of showing movement in addition to painting several views of an object at one time. This style was named "Simultanism." Another variation, "Orphism," made all the shapes appear to be whirling in spirals.

* Closely related to Cubism and appearing a few years later was the work of a group of Italian artists. They picked the name "Futurism." Their inspiration came from the noise and activity of machinery that was changing everyone's lives.

At about the time of the Russian Revolution, another group had ideas they called "Constructivism." These ideas came from giant industrial structures, steel work and other heavy industries.

THINGS TO DO

* In order for students to develop a clear understanding of Cubism, they need to become familiar with as many examples as possible.

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