Monday, August 16, 2010

BSBDES305A - Source and apply information on the history and theory of design


Cubism is an art movement which was started in 1907 by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and typically ended around 1914. What these two artists done for Cubism can be compared to what Andy Warhol done for Pop Art, and Henri Matisse for Fauvism **('Analyzing Artistic Innovation- The greatest breakthroughs of the twentieth century' DAVID W. GALENSON)** . This is the reason that through most of this report, the names of these two men will appear constantly, as will examples of their Cubist works.
The name 'Cubism' was given to this style of art by Henri Matisse and art critic Louis Vauxcelles because they thought Braque's art work 'Houses at L'Estaque' (1908) looked as though it was made of cubes. That is what a lot of the art produced in this period was like - a lot of straight lines, and shape elements to form other whole shapes (and the illusion of a 3 dimensional piece). There are three periods of Cubism within the movement itself - Facet Cubism, Analytical Cubism and Synthetic Cubism. Facet Cubism was the beginning of the movement, and works can be described as having all aspects of the subjects broken down and arranged in a way that all angles are seen at the same time. Analytical Cubism was from 1910 to 1912. The art works produced in this period were about breaking down the subject, most had monochromatic colour schemes (a limited pallette), and had a lot of straight lines. A lot of peices had the subject detailed in the centre of the canvas with the background not as dominant. Synthetic Cubism grew from Analytical Cubism, where the subjects of the paintings were much easier to enterpret. This sub-period went from 1912 until Cubism eventually phased out after the end of World War One. In this sub-period, artists experimented with a technique of pasting paper onto their artworks, aslo called 'papiers coll├ęs'. They also experimented with pasting cloth, sawdust and sand onto works as well as 'ready made' objects like tobacco packets and playing cards. Cubists artists did not limit themselves to painting - there are also many sculpted works as well. Pablo Picasso and Jacques Lipchitz are artists who done a lot of Cubist sculptures. Materials they used included mainly bronze cast but also wood and cardboard.

Before Cubism was stared, the world was going through a war, discovery and improvement stage. Albert Einstein had recently published his theory of relativity; the Wright brothers fly the first heavier-than-air craft; the Ford company is established by Henry Ford; and the making of the HMS Dreadnought began a new era in strong, reliable battleships. During Cubism, a model of the solar system was released; the world's first 'unsinkable' ship, the Titanic, sank on it's maiden voyage; the North and South poles are explored; in America, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is established; and the Republic of China is established after the revolution against the Qing Dynasty. Towards the end of the Cubist movement, in fact one of the contributing factors to its phasing out, was World War One. French artist Braque joined the armed forces as Germany declared war on France, thus ending the influence he and Picasso had on the movement (other artists continued to follow the movement into the 1920's). World War One, the 'War to end all Wars', began in 1914 and ended in 1918. Some other products invented at this time which are still used today include the safety razor, ice cream cones, crayons, jelly, electric washing machines, neon lights, and plastic. ***(***

Cubist artists were greatly influenced and inspired by cultural art such as sculptures and tribal masks from Africa. This can be seen in particular with Picasso's 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon' (1907) where there are mask-like shapes over the women's faces, and the composition of the piece is similar to a series of photographs taken by French photographer Edmond Fortier in West Africa. Other similarities are shallow picture space and the angular forms of the women. ***(Gore, Charles; 'African Arts; Winter2008, Vol. 41 Issue 4')***
They were also inspired by the works of fellow artists Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, Raoul Dufy, Edvard Munch, Thophile Steinlen, Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the earlier work of Pablo Picasso. These artists came from a range of art movements including Art Nouveau, Post - Impressionism, Fauvism and Modernism.

As Cubism is known to be the beginning of Abstract art, many of the pieces of art are not realistic or detailed. There are a lot of shapes which are used to make up a shape or form, such as squares or triangles. This is meant to show what a subject looks like in the 'Mind's Eye' rather than to show what is percieved when you look at it. Subjects are broken down and put back together in a fashion that looks like every angle of it is showing. Cubism pushed the thory that art "...should be autonomous and not merely imitate nature..." ***(*** Some pieces, especially the ones done by Russian artists, showed a lot of bold colours and outlines of the shapes. Other pieces, such as the ones done by Braque, are similar colours, mainly neutral, natural colours such as brown and grey, and a lot of smooth, shaded shapes. Subjects in the Cubist movement include people's faces and bodies, animals, buildings, musical instruments and still lifes. Landscapes were a rare subject.
Picasso and Braque would not explain how or why they did what they did with their Cubism (a 'programme', as what critics and historians describe it), only the work that was produced came from 'Inner Urges' inside the artists, which have also been called 'Genius'. ***('CUBISM 1910-12:THE LIMITS OF DISCOURSE' ROGER CRANSHAW)***

When Cubism is mentioned, the first two names which spring to mind are obviously the two men who started the movement - Spainish artist Pablo Picasso, and French artist Georges Braque. Picasso's most famous piece from this period was 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon', which he painted in 1907. Interestingly, this painting was only showed to close friends because Picasso was 'afraid of it', until 1916, after most of the Cubist movement had passed (or at the height of the movement, according to some). ***(*** Georges Braque's most famous piece would be the one that the movement was named from - 'Houses at L'Estaque' (1908). As this movement began in France, a lot of Cubist artists are French. Other artists include Kazimir Malevich (Russia), Liubov' Popova (Russia), Juan Gris (Spain), Roger de la Fresnaye (France), Patrick Henry Bruce (America),Francis Picabia (France), Robert Delaunay (France), Fernand Leger (France), Roger De La Fresnaye (France), Jacques Lipchitz (Lithuania / France) and Marcel Duchamp (France). Wealthy Russians would buy the French artist's paintings, take them back to Russia, and it was after this when the Russian Cubists first began painting in this style. The artist Max Weber (America) is said to have brought the movement into America in 1909 after spending three years in Paris painting with Picasso. ***(Bringing Cubism to America. By: North, Percy, American Art, 10739300, Fall2000, Vol. 14, Issue 3)***

Cubism was by far one of, if not the most, inspirational art movements of the 20th century. The movement is said to have been inspiration for artists following other movements such as Futurism, Expressionism, Suprematism, Abstraction, Rayonism, Constructivism, Precisionism, Orphism, Neo-Plasticism and Purism **(***. An influence of future graphic design, in particular typography, was the art work done by Braque called 'Le Portugais' in 1911. This painting had letters intentionally stamped across it, as part of the painting.


Gore, Charles; 'African Arts; Winter2008, Vol. 41 Issue 4'

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