Crossing Cultures with Cubism

By Lott, Debra | School Arts, May-June 2006 | Go to article overview

Crossing Cultures with Cubism


Lott, Debra, School Arts


The study of Cubism is an excellent approach to influence and inspire high school students with artworks of a diverse time. Cubism not only changed the existing art society of the early twentieth century, but the art of future cultures as well. In itself, Cubism is synonymous with diversity; from its birth in Paris, Cubism spread all over the world. Its influence was seen in a variety of media and artwork outside Paris including Spain, Italy, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Germany, England, and America.

In each country, and in the work of many of the artists of that era, Cubism developed into a unique but diverse entity. Primitive sculpture from non-Western countries, Africa, Oceania, and Iberia, was a significant element that shaped the initial development of Cubism. Picasso incorporated images of African masks in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Social Studies Connection

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the world was in a period of rapid change. Technological advances in communication and flight changed the perception of distance and time. Science and philosophy of this era also changed the concept of time and space. The Cubists were greatly affected by these advancements and their artwork demonstrated these changes. The Cubists wanted to transform their images with many viewpoints and perspectives and create a new reality in their artwork.

The Cubist Still Life

Teachers and students can collaborate to create a still life that represents a melting pot of cultures. In a diverse classroom, students may volunteer to provide objects from their own cultures. These may include masks, cultural dress and fabrics, hats, ceramic objects, musical instruments, and symbolic artifacts.

The Characteristics of Cubism

Familiarity with the characteristics of Cubism is necessary when creating this composition. In this movement, artists no longer drew subjects in a natural or realistic fashion. The following are typical characteristics of Cubism:

* Rearrangements of objects as if they were broken and put back together

* Drawing different viewpoints of the same object

* Drawing objects in a geometric fashion or with a faceted shape

* Drawing different perspectives in the same composition

* Transparent treatment of opaque objects

* Restricted color schemes (Analytic Cubism--muted shades of green, gray and brown)

* Collage--Synthetic Cubism

Materials

* reproductions of Cubist art
work by Picasso, Braque,
and Gris

* still-life objects representing
different cultures

* 18x24" (46x61cm)
watercolor paper

* 18 x 24"(46 x 61 cm) tracing
paper

* paintbrushes

* acrylic paint

* sizes

* variety of different
of drawing paper

* scissors

Procedures

To facilitate
the planning
of the Cubism
composition and guide students
who need support with this process:

1. … 

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