Cubism – 6 Interesting Facts

Cubism is one of the most well-known visual styles created during the early 20th century. Art produced in this manner usually has a geometric and deconstructive appearance. Thus, Cubist works are both realistic and abstract due to this multifaceted approach and the distortion it creates. To know more about this distinct art style, here are the following facts:

1. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque founded Cubism.

  • Picasso studied the simplistic, geometric paintings of the late Paul Cézanne. Braque, in turn, drew inspiration from Picasso. The two became known as the “Gallery Cubists.”
  • Both artists lived in the Montmartre neighborhood and developed the style in tandem. Their works sometimes became difficult to differentiate, much to their pleasure.

2. There are two major classifications of Cubism.

  • The first type is Analytic Cubism. This earlier form is completely flat and uses paint as the sole medium. It also used monochromatic colors, usually in gray and earth tones.
  • The second type is Synthetic Cubism. Aside from bright colors, this mixed media form uses papier-colle (“pasted paper”). Collage materials include newspapers, sheet music, tobacco wrappers, cigarette packs, and playing cards.

3. Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” is the first Cubist work.

  • The painting is the breakthrough piece of the Cubist style, but was not the first viewed by the public. It was not unveiled until around a decade after its creation.
  • It sparked controversy because it depicted women, traditional subjects of beauty, as prostitutes. Furthermore, the two women on the rightmost side have distorted faces.

4. Braque’s “Houses at L’Estaque” earned the movement its name.

  • The piece was the first Cubist work seen by the public. It was Braque’s attack on the rules of perspective, calling them “a ghastly mistake”.
  • The block-like houses led critic Louis Vauxcelles to describe them as “bizarreries cubiques”.

5. Art dealer, collector, and historian Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler was the first champion of Cubism.

  • Kahnweiler patronized Picasso’s and Braque’s paintings, sparing them from destitution and criticism. The so-called Gallery Cubists almost only exhibited at his gallery on the rue Vignon.
  • Léonce and Paul Rosenberg became the principle dealers of all Cubist art during and after World War I. They replaced Kahnweiler, a German citizen, after his exile from France.

6. The Salon Cubists introduced the movement to the world.

  • Inspired by the Gallery Cubists, a separate group of artists exhibited at the Salon d’Automne and Salon des Independants. They often produced large paintings which earned their works the name “Epic Cubism.”
  • Some viewers called for authority intervention and newspapers called Cubist works dangerous. Meanwhile, men of intellect, wit and spirit expressed their amusement at the bourgeois reaction to the bizarre cubes.

Cubism challenged the Renaissance tradition of realistic perspective. It serves as a key movement in the development of non-representational art and is one of the most important art styles that cemented the importance of modernism.

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