Cubism

Cubism
Cubism (a name suggested by Henri Matisse in 1909) is a non-objective approach to painting developed originally in France by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque around 1906. The early, "pre-Cubist" period (to 1906) is characterized by emphasizing the process of construction, of creating a pictorial rhythm, and converting the represented forms into the essential geometric shapes: the cube, the sphere, the cylinder, and the cone. Between 1909 and 1911, the analysis of human forms and still lifes (hence the name ? Analytical Cubism) led to the creation of a new stylistic system which allowed the artists to transpose the three-dimensional subjects into the flat images on the surface of the canvas.
An object, seen from various points of view, could be reconstructed using particular separate "views" which overlapped and intersected. The result of such a reconstruction was a summation of separate temporal moments on the canvas. Picasso called this reorganized form the "sum of destructions," that is, the sum of the fragmentations. Since color supposedly interferred in purely intellectual perception of the form, the Cubist palette was restricted to a narrow, almost monochromatic scale, dominated by grays and browns. A new phase in the development of the style, called Synthetic Cubism, began around 1912. In the center of the painters? attention was now the construction, not the analysis of the represented object ? in other words, creation instead of recreation. Color regained its decorative function and was no longer restricted to the naturalistic description of the form. Compositions were still static and centered, but they lost their depth and became almost abstract, although the subject was still visible in synthetic, simplified forms. The construction requirements brought about the introduction of new textures and new materials (cf. paper collages). Cubism lasted till 1920s and had a profound effect on the art of the avant-garde. Russian painters were introduced to Cubism through the works bought and displayed by wealthy patrons like Shchukin and Morozov. As they did with many other movements, the Russians interpreted and transformed Cubism in their own unique way. In particular, the Russian Cubists carried even further the abstract potential of the style. Some of the most outstanding Cubist works came from the brush of Malevich, Popova, and Udal?tsova. In Two Figures (1913-14), Liubov? Popova beautifully demonstrates the artistic possibilities of a Cubist reconstruction and, at the same time, her talent to transcend simple imitation. The painting might have been influenced by Umberto Boccioni?s 1912 Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture (published in Moscow in 1914), in which he suggested "a translation in plaster, bronze, glass, wood, or any other material of those atmospheric planes which bind and intersect things" (Costakis, 352). [B.B., C.B., and A.B.]

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