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Cubism, highly influential visual arts style of the 20th century that was created principally by the painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in Paris between 1907 and 1914. The key concept of Cubism is that the essence of objects can only be captured by showing it from multiple points of view simultaneously.

 The Cubist style emphasized the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane, rejecting the traditional techniques of perspective, foreshortening, modeling, and chiaroscuro and refuting time-honoured theories of art as the imitation of nature.

 Cubist painters were not bound to copying form, texture, colour, and space; instead, they presented a new reality in paintings that depicted radically fragmented objects, whose several sides were seen simultaneously.

Cubism had run its course by the end of World War I, but among the movements directly influenced by it were Orphism, Purism,Precisionism,Futurism, Constructivism, and, to some degree,Expressionism.

Although the war of 1914-19 ended Picasso and Braque's collaboration, the cubist core group remained active until the 1920s, through the explorations of Braque, Matisse, Laurens, Lipchitz and Fernand Léger, whose geometric world and abstractly organized canvases with their contrasting, dynamic forms owe almost everything to the pioneering breakthroughs of Cézanne, Braque and Picasso.


Pablo Picasso was born on October 25, 1881, in Málaga, Spain. The son of an academic painter, José Ruiz Blanco, he began to draw at an early age. In 1895, the family moved toBarcelona, and Picasso studied there at La Lonja, the academy of fine arts. His visit to Horta de Ebro from 1898 to 1899 and his association with the group at the café Els Quatre Gats about 1899 were crucial to his early artistic development. In 1900, Picasso’s first exhibition took place in Barcelona, and that fall he went toParis for the first of several stays during the early years of the century. Picasso settled inParis in April 1904, and soon his circle of friends included Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Gertrude and Leo Stein, as well as two dealers, Ambroise Vollard and Berthe Weill.

His style developed from the Blue Period (1901–04) to the Rose Period (1905) to the pivotal workLes Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and the subsequent evolution of Cubism from an Analytic phases (ca. 1908–11), through its Synthetic phase (beginning in 1912–13). Picasso’s collaboration on ballet and theatrical productions began in 1916. Soon thereafter, his work was characterized by neoclassicism and a renewed interest in drawing and figural representation. In the 1920s, the artist and his wife, Olga (whom he had married in 1918), continued living in Paris, to travel frequently, and to spend their summers at the beach. From 1925 into the 1930s, Picasso was involved to a certain degree with the Surrealists, and from the fall of 1931 he was especially interested in making sculpture. In 1932, with large exhibitions at the Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, and the Kunsthaus Zürich, and the publication of the first volume of Christian Zervos’s catalogue raisonné, Picasso’s fame increased markedly.

By 1936, the Spanish Civil War had profoundly affected Picasso, the expression of which culminated in his paintingGuernica (1937, Museo Nacional Centro de ArteReina Sofia, Madrid). Picasso’s association with the Communist Party began in 1944. From the late 1940s, he lived in the South of France. Among the enormous number of Picasso exhibitions that were held during the artist’s lifetime, those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1939 and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs,Paris, in 1955 were most significant. In 1961, the artist married Jacqueline Roque, and they moved to Mougins. There Picasso continued his prolific work in painting, drawing, prints, ceramics, and sculpture until his death April 8, 1973.


Carafe, Jug, and Fruit Bowl,summer 1909. Oil on canvas, 28 1/4 x 25 3/8 inches. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Gift, Solomon R. Guggenheim. 37.536. © 2003 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Fernande with a Black Mantilla (Fernande à la mantille noir),1905–06. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 31 7/8 inches. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Thannhauser Collection, Bequest of Hilde Thannhauser. 91.3914. © 2003 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Landscape at Céret,summer 1911. Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 19 3/4 inches. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Gift, Solomon R. Guggenheim. 37.538. © 2003 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Georges Braque

Georges Braque developed his painting skills while working for his father, a house decorator. He moved toParis in 1900 to study where he was drawn to the work of the Fauve artists, includingMatisse,Derain andDufy, as well as the late landscapes ofCézanne. MeetingPicasso marked a huge turning point in Braque's development and together they evolved as leaders ofCubism. After a brief interlude in which he was called up to fight in the First World War, Braque's style developed in the direction he was to follow for the rest of his life. In establishing the principle that a work of art should be autonomous and not merely imitate nature, Cubism redefined art in the twentieth century. Braque's large compositions incorporated the Cubist aim of representing the world as seen from a number of different viewpoints. He wanted to convey a feeling of being able to move around within the painting. The still life subject remained his chief preoccupation from 1927 to 1955.


Terrace of Hotel Mistral
L'Estaque [and Paris], autumn 1907
Oil on canvas
31 1/2 x 24 in. (80 x 61 cm.)
Private collection, New York

Musical Instruments
[Paris, autumn 1908]
Oil on canvas
19 3/4 x 24 in. (50 x 61 cm.)
Private collection
Romilly 7

Pedestal Table
[Paris, early 1913]
Oil and charcoal on canvas
25 3/4 x 36 1/4 in. (65 x 92 cm.)
Kunstmuseum Basel
Romilly 173

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