Cubism is a trend in the avant-garde art of the early 20th century, which radically changed European painting and sculpture, and also inspired the corresponding trends in music, literature and architecture. Cubism is considered the most influential trend in 20th-century art. This term was widely used in connection with the great variety of art created in Paris (Montmartre, Montparnasse and Puteau) in the 1910s and 1920s.
Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso stood at the origins of cubism, later they were joined by Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleize, Robert Delaunay, Henri Le Focognier, Fernand Leger and Juan Gris. The main factor that led to the creation of cubism was the representation of the three-dimensional form in the latest works of Paul Cezanne. In the Autumn Salon of 1904, a retrospective of Cezanne’s paintings was carried out, current works were presented in the Autumn Salon of 1905 and 1906, and then two commemorative retrospectives after his death in 1907.
Pablo Picasso Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier) (“Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier)”), 1910, oil on canvas, 100.3 x 73.6 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York
In works in the style of cubism, objects are analyzed, broken and reassembled in an abstract form – instead of depicting objects from one point, the artist draws an object from many points in order to present it in a larger context.
The influence of cubism was far-reaching and comprehensive. It quickly spread throughout the world, while developing to a greater or lesser extent. Cubism, in essence, was the starting point of the evolutionary process that created diversity; he was the forerunner of various artistic movements.
In France, such branches of Cubism as Orphism, abstract art, and later purism developed. In other countries, futurism, suprematism, Dada, constructivism, and neoplasticism arose. Early Futurism, like Cubism, united the past and the present, presenting different types of simultaneously depicted objects, also called multiple perspectives, simultaneity or plurality, while constructivism was influenced by the Picasso technique, which consisted of building sculptures from individual elements. Other common themes between these different areas include cutting or simplifying geometric shapes and combining mechanization and modern life.
Concept and origin
Cubism was born in the years 1907-1911. Pablo Picasso’s 1907 painting Avignon Maidens is often considered a proto-Cubist work. Georges Braque’s “Homes in Estate” (and related works) prompted the critic Louis Vosel to turn to bizarreries cubiques (cubic oddities). Gertrude Stein referred to landscapes painted by Picasso in 1909, for example, “Pond (Reservoir at Horta de Ebro)” as the first Cubist paintings. The first organized group exhibition of cubists took place at the Salon de la Independent in Paris in the spring of 1911 in a room called Hall 41 (Salle 41); it included the works of Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleize, Fernand Leger, Robert Delaunay and Henri Le Focognier, works by Picasso and Braque have not yet been exhibited.
By 1911, Picasso was recognized as the inventor of Cubism, and the importance and predecessor of Braque, in relation to his interpretation of space, volume and mass in the landscapes of L’Estack, was proved later. But “this vision of cubism is connected with a clearly limiting definition of which of the artists should be called Cubists,” wrote art historian Christopher Green: “Ignoring the contribution of artists who exhibited at the Salon of Independents in 1911 …”
Historians divided the history of cubism into stages. According to one version, the first stage of cubism, known as analytical cubism, the phrase was invented by Juan Gris on the basis of experience, was so radical and influential as a short, but at the same time important direction in the art of France from 1910-1912. The second stage, synthetic cubism, remained relevant until 1919, when surrealism gained popularity. The English art critic Douglas Cooper proposed a different version, describing the three stages of cubism in his book The Age of Cubism. According to Cooper, “early cubism” (1906-1908) was when the direction developed in the studios of Picasso and Braque; the second stage, called “high cubism” (1909-1914), during which time a significant representative of cubism Juan Gris appeared (after 1911); and in conclusion, Cooper called “late cubism” (1914-1921) as the last stage of cubism as a radical avant-garde trend. Douglas Cooper limited the use of these terms to highlight the works of Braque, Picasso, Gris (since 1911) and Leger (to a lesser extent) implying an intentional value judgment.