Cubism was one arguably one of the most influential visual art styles of the early twentieth century. Begun by the artists Pablo Picaso & Georges Braque after visiting a posthumous retrospective of the work of Paul Cezanne in 1907.
Where traditional artists strived to show the three dimensionality of the natural world through perspective, modeling & foreshortening, cubists rejected this approach & wanted instead to emphasize the two dimensionality of the canvas & endeavoured to show depth by using multiple & changing vantage points, fracturing their subjects up into geometric forms.
After a visit to Picaso’s studio in 1907 Picaso & Braque collaborated closely for many years, Braque being heavily influenced by the others style. The worked together daily, constantly comparing each others work & discussing ideas they had together. However, after Braque returned from World War 1 in 1914 he felt that Picaso had begun to paint figuratively & had betrayed their vision. He continued to be influenced by him however.
The painting above, Les Demoiselles d’Aviginion, was creaed in 1907 just before Braque’s visit to Picaso’s studio. Its believed to be the harbinger of the cubist movement.
A watershed moment for the development of Cubism was the posthumous retrospective of Paul Cézanne’s work at the Salon d’Automne in 1907. Cézanne’s use of generic forms to simplify nature was incredibly influential to both Picasso and Braque.
Both artists believed that traditions of western art were overrated & they took inspiration from other cultures such as from Africa.
Although Cubism was born in France it emigrated across Europe and integrated with the artistic consciousness of several countries. This movement emerged as futurism in Italy, vorticism in England, Suprematism and Constructivism in Russia and Expressionism in Germany and it also influenced several of the major design and architectural styles of the 20th century and it still prevails to this day as mode of expression in the language of art. (1)