To Braque’s and Picasso, paint on an essentially two dimensional and flat canvas represented a challenge: how could one be faithful to a medium that by its very tauter was not three-dimensional while still portraying objects that by their very nature are three-dimensional? Part of their answer came from a study of Paul Cezannes many paintings of Mont Saints-Victories executed the century before. Cezanne saw and emphasized the geometric characteristics of nature; his representations of the mountain broke it down into a series of geometrical planes.
With the example of Cezanne and their own native genius, Braque’s and Picasso began a series of paintings to put this new way of “seeing” into practice. These experiments in painting began an era called analytical Cubism because the artists were most unconcerned with exploring the geometric qualities of objects seen without reference to linear perspective. Picasso Picasso Less Demolishes Davidson, painted in 1907, is regarded as a landmark of twentieth century painting.
Using the traditional motif of a group of bathers (the title of the painting is a sly Joke; it alludes to a brothel on Avignon Street in Barcelona), Picasso moves from poses that echo Classical sculpture on the left to increasingly fragmented and distorted figures on the right. His acquaintance with African art prompted him to repaint the faces that same year to reflect his delight with the giggly angular and “primitive” African masks he had seen at a Paris exhibition.
The importance of this work rests in its violently defiant move away from both the Classical perspective of Renaissance art and the experiments of Cezanne in the preceding century. It heralds the Cubism with which both Picasso and Braque’s Braque’s A look at representative paintings by Braque’s and Picasso will help clarify the aim of the Cubists. In Violin and Pitcher, Braque’s depicts a violin so that the viewer sees at once the front, the sides, and the bottom of the instrument while they appear simultaneously on a single flat plane. The ordinary depth of the violin has disappeared.
The violin is recognizable, but the older notion of the violin as appearing “real” has been replaced by the artist’s vision of the violin as a problem to be solved according to his vision and through his analysis. In Picasso portrait of Daniel-Henry Kindlier, the entire picture plane has become a geometric grid in which the traditional portrait form has been broken into separate cube-like shapes and scattered without reference to traditional proportion. The viewer must reconstruct the portrait from the various positions on the cubist grid.
Within the picture one detects here a face, there a clasped hand, and a table with a bottle on it. The intense preoccupation with line and form in this work can be noted by a close examination of the tiled surface facets that provide the painting with its artistic unity. SYNTHETIC CUBISM In the postwar period, the impact of Cubism on the artistic imagination was profound and widespread. Picasso moved away from the technically refined yet somewhat abstractly intellectual style of analytic Cubism to what has been called synthetic Cubism.
In Three Musician, he still employs the flat planes and two-dimensional inerrant of Cubism, as the geometric masks of the three figures and the way they are lined up clearly show, but their color, vivacity, playfulness, and expressiveness somehow make us forget that they are worked out in terms of geometry. These postwar paintings seem more humane, alive, and less intellectually abstract. Mandarin The visual revolution of Cubism stimulated other artists to use the Cubist insight in various ways.
Only a close historical analysis could chart the many ways in which Cubism made its mark on subsequent art, but a sampling shows both the richness and diversity of art in the West after the Great War. The Dutch painter Pieta Mandarin (1872-1944), after visits to Paris where he saw Cubist work, abandoned his earlier naturalistic works for paintings like Composition in Oval with Color Planes l, a work whose main focus is on line and square highlighted by color. Chalk The influence of Cubism was not confined to a desire for simplified line and color, even though such a trend has continued to the present in Minimalist and Hardened art.
The Green Violinist, by Marc Chalk (1889-1985) combines Cubist touches (in the figure of the violinist) with the artist’s penchant for dreamy scenes evoking memories f Jewish village life in Eastern Europe. Tomato understood his own culture, came under Cubist influence during his long career. His brilliant Woman with Guitar, for example, reflected a subtle Cubist composition in its layered background and foreground and use of planes and shapes of rich colors. The lush colors drawn from Pre-Columbian art frame and shape the Indian woman who sits slightly off center.
The poet Octavia Pas said about Tomato, “If I could express with a single word what it is that distinguishes Tomato from other painters, I would say without a moment’s hesitation: Sun. For the sun is in all his pictures, whether we e it or not. ” GUERRILLA: ART AS PROTEST The late Protestant theologian Paul Italics once called Picasso Guerrilla the great Protestant painting. He said this not because Picasso was religious (which he was not) but because of the quality and depth of Picasso protest against inhumanity.
The title of the painting comes from the name of a small Basque town that was saturation-bombed by Germany’s Condor Legion in the service of Franc’s fascist rebel forces during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso completed the huge canvas in two months?May and June 1937?-so that he could exhibit it at the Paris World’s Fair that ear. The genesis and development of Guerrilla have been intensely studied in order to “unlock” its symbolism, but it would be safe to begin with Picasso particular images.
Many of these images recur repeatedly in his work to convey Picasso sense of horror at the destruction of war together with his muted affirmation of hope in the face of the horror. His iconography is reinforced by its somber palette: gradations of black, brown, and white. The complexity of images in Guerrilla at first glance seems chaotic, but prolonged viewing reveals a dense and ordered rhythm. Starting at the left with the bull? Picasso symbol of brute force, of Spain, and at times of the artist himself?we see beneath the animal a woman with the broken body of a child. The echo of the Pieta theme is obvious.
In the lower center and to the right is a dismembered figure, in the Cubist style, over whom rears up a “screaming” horse. At the top right of the work are Picasso only hints of hope in the face of such evil: a small open window above a supplicant figure and an emerging figure holding a lamp. Over the center is an culls (“eye”) in which a lamp burns and casts off light. As a social document the importance of Guerrilla cannot be overestimated. The German bombing of the little town was an experiment in a new style of warfare, a style that would be refined into a deadly technique in World War II.
In Guerrilla, Picasso innovative combines various stylistic techniques that were employed on the eve of World War ‘?Expressionistic distortion and Cubist abstraction?to protest a technological development that became commonplace in the next war. In this sense, Guerrilla is a pivotal document?it straddles two cataclysmic struggles in the century. Guerrilla’s cry of outrage provides an important observation about human culture. The painting reminds us that at its best the human imagination calls up the most primordial symbols of our collective experience (the woman and child, the horse and the demands of the age.
Although Cubism was the most radical departure in modern art, it was not the only major art trend that overreached the period of the Great War. German painters continued to paint works in the Expressionist style of the early years of the century. Perhaps the most accomplished exponent of Expressionism was Wassail Sandusky (1866-1944), who was also one of the few painters of his time who attempted to state is theories of art in writing.
Sandusky Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1910) argued his conviction that the inner, mystical core of a human being is the truest source of great art. That attitude, together with Sandusky conviction that the physical sciences were undermining confidence in the solidity of the world as we see it, led him closer to color abstraction and further away from any form of representation. By 1926, Sandusky was attempting to express the infinity and formlessness of the world (indeed, the cosmos) in paintings like Pink accent] without appeal to any representative figures or sense of narration (nonobjective art).