Year 1907 can be taken as a reference in order to talk about Cubism. This is the year for the meeting of Braque and Picasso.
Contemporary scholars are according for seeing Picasso as a leader for this movement. The curious fact is that first cubist works were painted by Braque. One can say that Picasso was to Cubism what Matisse
had been for Fauvism.
"Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" in 1907 has been appreciated as the most important work in 20th century art. This masterwork was a new departure point. Up to this one Picasso
removed everything that was sublime in tradition. Cubism can only be understood after breaking with prior art.
Origin of word "Cubism":
Louis Vauxcelles talked on cubes in his comment on Braque's exhibition in Kahnweiler Gallery, in November, 1908. Vauxcelles also talked about cubiques bizarreries, expression from wich this style's name came. Then he named many of the Indépendant painters that worked in 1910 after Cézanne's influence
as stupid geometers who mistake landscape and human body as insipid cubes. It has beens said that Matisse also talked about little cubes.
Features of a new language:
In Cubism there is no theory: each step is a discovery:
- 1. Independence and autonomy of plans, outbreak of volume: flats are a topic for study in themselves rather than a part of a volume's general view: that is why it fades out. Big volumes are broken in little ones. In this way, limitation line is also broken: lineal feature is interrupted. Result of this process is compared to the vision on a broken mirror or a caleidoscopic one.
- 2. Multiple perspective: it is the result of studing each plan in its autonomy, breaking albertian monofocal perspective. Painting becomes free from monocular traditional vision. Angles of vision for the same object multiplies. So a complex vision of a being is given. It can be simultaneously presented from a frontal or profile angle. Any interesting point of view is admited.
- 3. Disappearance of shade and light degrees: it is produced because of the volume's decomposition.
- 4. "Local tone" color: color does not bring suplementary information. It is often applied in short touchs of brush. It has been called Color Passepartout, ready for all kind of objects but not representative of the true color of any of them.
- 5. Geometrism: geometrical forms invade compositions. Natural forms are translated as cylinders, cones, spheres and cubes. Retina keeps forms and painter's mind simplifies them.
Cezanne already translated his works to geometrical forms: that is why he was so important to Cubism.
- 6. Philosophical basis: Bergson's philosophical researchs were very important for Cubism. He asserts that a spectator keeps in his memory an important quantity of information about an object in outer visual space. It is an experience that constitutes an intellectual basis. Cubist painters performs this experience distorting and superimposing landscapes. They do not try to reflect reality in itself: they just give their artistic idea of reality.
There are three artists whose cubist painting style is coherent: Pablo
Picasso, Georges Braque and Juan
Gris. Many others, whose production has been seen as cubist, do differ from this three ones: Gleizes and Metzinger, authors of the first text on Cubism: Du Cubisme. Also Marcel Duchamp
and Francis Picabia worked this field, though both evolutioned to Dadaism. Other creative painters were Robert Delaunay and Fernand Léger.
Beatriz Aragonés Escobar.
Licentiate in Art History