All Things Considered: Still Life with Glass and Lemon

School Arts, May-June 2004 | Go to article overview

All Things Considered: Still Life with Glass and Lemon


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Still Life with Glass and Lemon, 1910. Oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 39 13/16" (74 x 101.3 cm). Cincinnati Art Museum, Bequest of Mary E. Johnston, 1967.1428.

About the Art

Composed of abstract, monochromatic shapes, this painting's original subject is surprisingly a glass and lemon. The artist, Pablo Picasso, developed this unique system of breaking down objects into their basic geometric parts with French painter Georges Braque. The two explored this concept, called Analytic Cubism, between 1907 and 1912.

In this work, the glass and lemon are barely discernable amidst the overlapping shapes. Analytic Cubism examined everyday three-dimensional objects from multiple viewpoints, broke them down into geometric shapes, and then reorganized the mass of forms into a two-dimensional composition. The work is unified through the use of a monochromatic color scheme. Cubism can trace its roots to Paul Cezanne's exploration of nontraditional spatial arrangements as well as Iberian and African sculpture, which fragmented forms into geometric shapes.

This new approach to seeing and painting is considered Picasso's most innovative contribution to the art world. The influence of Analytic Cubism and its subsequent movement, Synthetic Cubism, would permeate the twentieth century.

About the Artist

Arguably the twentieth century's most influential and prolific artist, Pablo Picasso developed an interest in art as a young child in Spain. After settling in Paris, he experimented with new styles of painting and went through a series of artistic phases, including Blue Period, Rose Period, Analytic Cubism, Synthetic Cubism, and classicism. …

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