Cubism: A History and an Analysis, 1907-1944

By John Golding | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
PICASSO AND BRAQUE 1907-12

When Picasso painted the Demoiselles d' Avignon (Pl. 1), those of his friends who were allowed to see it seem to have felt that in some way he had let them down. In his Histoire anecdotique du Cubisme Salmon records their disappointment.1 Gertrude Stein writes that 'Tschoukine who had so much admired the painting of Picasso was at my house and he said almost in tears, what a loss for French painting'.2 Braque was frankly bewildered by it.

The Demoiselles is not, strictly speaking, a Cubist painting. Cubism was an art of realism and, in so far as it was concerned with re-interpreting the external world in a detached, objective way, a classical art. The first impression made by the Demoiselles, on the other hand, is one of violence and unrest. Indeed, the savagery of the two figures at the right-hand side of the painting (which is accentuated by the lack of expression in the faces of the other figures) would justify its classification as one of the most passionate products of twentieth- century Expressionism. But it is incontestable that the painting marks a turning point in the career of Picasso and, moreover, the beginning of a new phase in the history of art. It is, too, the logical point to begin a history of Cubism. For as an analysis of the painting will show, many of the problems that faced Picasso and Braque in their creation of the style are stated here, clumsily perhaps, but clearly for the first time. 'Ce sont des problèmes nus, des chiffres blancs au tableau noir,' Salmon has written of the figures in the Demoiselles. 'C'est le principe posé de la peinture-équation.'3

____________________
1
In La Jeune Peinture Française, p. 43.
2
Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Paris 1938. Eng. edit. New York, London 1959, p. 18. This statement of Gertrude Stein's is, however, slightly puzzling as Barr writes that it was not until 1908 that Matisse took Tschoukine to Picasso's studio. ( Matisse, his art and his public, Museum of Modern Art, New York 1951, p. 85). At any rate, if Tschoukine did not say this to Gertrude Stein, someone else probably did.
3
La Jeune Peinture Française, p. 43.

-47-

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Cubism: A History and an Analysis, 1907-1944
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Acknowledgements 6
  • Abbreviation 6
  • Illustrations 7
  • Introduction 15
  • Chapter I - The History and Chronology of Cubism 19
  • Chapter II - Picasso and Braque 1907-12 47
  • Chapter III - Picasso, Braque and Gris 1912-14 96
  • Chapter IV - The Influence of Cubism in France 1910-14 138
  • Conclusion 181
  • Bibliography 188
  • Index 201
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