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Cubism

Georges Braque, 1910, Violin and CANDLESTICK, oil on canvas, 60.96 cm x 50.17
cm, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement that revolutionized
European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature
and architecture. Cubism has been considered the most influential art movement of the
20th century.The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of art produced
in Paris (Montmartre, Montparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending
through the 1920s.
The movement was pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, joined by
Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Henri Le Fauconnier, Fernand Lger
and Juan Gris.A primary influence that led to Cubism was the representation of threedimensional form in the late works of Paul Czanne. A retrospective of Czanne's
paintings had been held at the Salon d'Automne of 1904, current works were displayed
at the 1905 and 1906 Salon d'Automne, followed by two commemorative retrospectives
after his death in 1907.
In Cubist artwork, objects are analyzed, broken up and reassembled in an
abstracted forminstead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the
subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context.
The impact of Cubism was far-reaching and wide-ranging. Cubism spread rapidly
across the globe and in doing so evolved to greater or lesser extent. In essence,
Cubism was the starting point of an evolutionary processes that produced diversity; it
was the antecedent of diverse art movements.
In France, offshoots of Cubism developed, including Orphism, Abstract art and
later Purism. In other countries Futurism, Suprematism, Dada, Constructivism and De
Stijl developed in response to Cubism. Early Futurist paintings hold in common with
Cubism the fusing of the past and the present, the representation of different views of
the subject pictured at the same time, also called multiple perspective, or simultaneity,
while Constructivism was influenced by Picasso's technique of constructing sculpture
from separate elements. Other common threads between these disparate movements
include the faceting or simplification of geometric forms, and the association of
mechanization and modern life. Cubism began between 1907 and 1911. Pablo
Picasso's 1907 painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon has often been considered a protoCubist work. Georges Braque's 1908 Houses at LEstaque (and related works)
prompted the critic Louis Vauxcelles to refer to bizarreries cubiques (cubic oddities).
Gertrude Stein referred to landscapes made by Picasso in 1909, such as Reservoir at

Horta de Ebro, as the first Cubist paintings. The first organized group exhibition by
Cubists took place at the Salon des Indpendants in Paris during the spring of 1911 in a
room called Salle 41; it included works by Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Fernand
Lger, Robert Delaunay and Henri Le Fauconnier, yet no works by Picasso and Braque
were exhibited.
By 1911 Picasso was recognized as the inventor of Cubism, while Braques
importance and precedence was argued later, with respect to his treatment of space,
volume and mass in the LEstaque landscapes. But "this view of Cubism is associated
with a distinctly restrictive definition of which artists are properly to be called Cubists,"
wrote the art historian Christopher Green: "Marginalizing the contribution of the artists
who exhibited at the Salon des Indpendants in 1911 [...]
Historians have divided the history of Cubism into phases. In one scheme, the first
phase of Cubism, known as Analytic Cubism, a phrase coined by Juan Gris a posteriori,
was both radical and influential as a short but highly significant art movement between
1910 and 1912 in France. A second phase, Synthetic Cubism, remained vital until
around 1919, when the Surrealist movement gained popularity. English art historian
Douglas Cooper proposed another scheme, describing three phases of Cubism in his
book, The Cubist Epoch. According to Cooper there was "Early Cubism", (from 1906 to
1908) when the movement was initially developed in the studios of Picasso and Braque;
the second phase being called "High Cubism", (from 1909 to 1914) during which time
Juan Gris emerged as an important exponent (after 1911); and finally Cooper referred to
"Late Cubism" (from 1914 to 1921) as the last phase of Cubism as a radical avantgarde movement. Douglas Cooper's restrictive use of these terms to distinguish the
work of Braque, Picasso, Gris (from 1911) and Lger (to a lesser extent) implied an
intentional value judgement.
The assertion that the Cubist depiction of space, mass, time, and volume supports
(rather than contradicts) the flatness of the canvas was made by Daniel-Henry
Kahnweiler as early as 1920, but it was subject to criticism in the 1950s and 1960s,
especially by Clement Greenberg. Contemporary views of Cubism are complex, formed
to some extent in response to the "Salle 41" Cubists, whose methods were too distinct
from those of Picasso and Braque to be considered merely secondary to them.
Alternative interpretations of Cubism have therefore developed. Wider views of Cubism
include artists who were later associated with the "Salle 41" artists, e.g., Francis
Picabia; the brothers Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Marcel Duchamp,
who beginning in late 1911 formed the core of the Section d'Or (or the Puteaux Group);
the sculptors Alexander Archipenko, Joseph Csaky and Ossip Zadkine as well as
Jacques Lipchitz and Henri Laurens; and painters such as Louis Marcoussis, Roger de
La Fresnaye, Frantiek Kupka, Diego Rivera, Lopold Survage, Auguste Herbin, Andr
Lhote, Gino Severini (after 1916), Mara Blanchard (after 1916) and Georges Valmier

(after 1918). More fundamentally, Christopher Green argues that Douglas Cooper's
terms were "later undermined by interpretations of the work of Picasso, Braque, Gris
and Lger that stress iconographic and ideological questions rather than methods of
representation."
John Berger identifies the essence of Cubism with the mechanical diagram. "The
metaphorical model of Cubism is the diagram: The diagram being a visible symbolic
representation of invisible processes, forces, structures. A diagram need not eschew
certain aspects of appearance but these too will be treated as signs not as imitations or
recreations."