Creativity from Constraints: The Psychology of Breakthrough

By Patricia D. Stokes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

What can we learn from Braque? What can
we learn from Picasso
? What can we learn
from Cubism?

Creativity happens when someone does something new that is also useful or generative or influential (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Simonton, 1999). Useful means that the new thing solves a problem. (A doodle becomes the solution for a composition problem in a design class.) Generative means that the new thing leads to other ideas or things. (A solution suggests further developments or variations or facilitates solving the next problem.) Influential means that the new thing changes the way people look at, or listen to, or think about, or do, things like it. (Automatic writing, a kind of doodling invented by the Surrealists, was adapted by the Abstract Expressionists.)

This chapter's example of influential creativity comes from early in the 20th century. The creators were collaborators, a pair of painters—Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Between 1906 and 1914, Braque and Picasso developed a novel way to represent the world (Cooper, 1971; Rubin, 1989). Their new something, called Cubism, changed how some people (critics, dealers, collectors) looked at and thought about representational painting, and it changed how some other people (artists) painted. In short, our collaborators expanded their domain for all subsequent representational paintings (i.e., other things like it).

-1-

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