From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Salle importante, bien caractéristique des tendances actuelles et essentielles que poursuivent les principaux d'ici, les "vedettes" . [ ... ] Tout, jusqu’aux bizarreries cubiques et, je l’avoue, malaisément intelligibles de Bracke [sic] (en voilà, eût dit Pascal, qui abuse l’esprit géométrique!) confère à cette salle touffue un intérêt passionnant."-- Louis Vauxcelles in Gil Blas, 25 March 1909, see [...]
Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, joined by Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Henri Le Fauconnier, Fernand Léger and Juan Gris that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture. Cubism has been considered the most influential art movement of the 20th century. The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of art produced in Paris (Montmartre, Montparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending through the 1920s. Variants such as Futurism and Constructivism developed in other countries. A primary influence that led to Cubism was the representation of three-dimensional form in the late works of Paul Cézanne, which were displayed in a retrospective at the 1907 Salon d'Automne. In Cubist artwork, objects are analyzed, broken up and reassembled in an abstracted form—instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context.
Cubism began between 1907 and 1911. Pablo Picasso's 1907 painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon has often been considered a proto-Cubist work. Georges Braque's 1908 Houses at L’Estaque (and related works) prompted the critic Louis Vauxcelles to refer to bizarreries cubiques (cubic oddities).
The notion that Cubism formed an important link between early-20th-century art and architecture is widely accepted. The historical, theoretical, and socio-political relationships between avant-garde practices in painting, sculpture and architecture had early ramifications in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia. Though there are many points of intersection between Cubism and architecture, only a few direct links between them can be drawn. Most often the connections are made by reference to shared formal characteristics: faceting of form, spatial ambiguity, transparency, and multiplicity.
Architectural interest in Cubism centered on the dissolution and reconstitution of three-dimensional form, using simple geometric shapes, juxtaposed without the illusions of classical perspective. Diverse elements could be superimposed, made transparent or penetrate one another, while retaining their spatial relationships. Cubism had become an influential factor in the development of modern architecture from 1912 (La Maison Cubiste, by Raymond Duchamp-Villon and André Mare) onwards, developing in parallel with architects such as Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius, with the simplification of building design, the use of materials appropriate to industrial production, and the increased use of glass.
Cubism was relevant to an architecture seeking a style that needed not refer to the past. Thus, what had become a revolution in both painting and sculpture was applied as part of "a profound reorientation towards a changed world". The Cubo-Futurist ideas of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti influenced attitudes in avant-garde architecture. The influential De Stijl movement embraced the aesthetic principles of Neo-plasticism developed by Piet Mondrian under the influence of Cubism in Paris. De Stijl was also linked by Gino Severini to Cubist theory through the writings of Albert Gleizes. However, the linking of basic geometric forms with inherent beauty and ease of industrial application—which had been prefigured by Marcel Duchamp from 1914—was left to the founders of Purism, Amédée Ozenfant and Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (better known as Le Corbusier,) who exhibited paintings together in Paris and published Après le cubisme in 1918. Le Corbusier's ambition had been to translate the properties of his own style of Cubism to architecture. Between 1918 and 1922, Le Corbusier concentrated his efforts on Purist theory and painting. In 1922, Le Corbusier and his cousin Jeanneret opened a studio in Paris at 35 rue de Sèvres. His theoretical studies soon advanced into many different architectural projects.
La Maison Cubiste (Cubist House)
At the 1912 Salon d'Automne an architectural installation was exhibited that quickly became known as Maison Cubiste (Cubist House), signed Raymond Duchamp-Villon and André Mare along with a group of collaborators. Metzinger and Gleizes in Du "Cubisme", written during the assemblage of the "Maison Cubiste", wrote about the autonomous nature of art, stressing the point that decorative considerations should not govern the spirit of art. Decorative work, to them, was the "antithesis of the picture". "The true picture" wrote Metzinger and Gleizes, "bears its raison d'être within itself. It can be moved from a church to a drawing-room, from a museum to a study. Essentially independent, necessarily complete, it need not immediately satisfy the mind: on the contrary, it should lead it, little by little, towards the fictitious depths in which the coordinative light resides. It does not harmonize with this or that ensemble; it harmonizes with things in general, with the universe: it is an organism...".
Cubism in other fields
The influence of cubism extended to other artistic fields, outside painting and sculpture. In literature, the written works of Gertrude Stein employ repetition and repetitive phrases as building blocks in both passages and whole chapters. Most of Stein's important works utilize this technique, including the novel The Makings of Americans (1906–08) Not only were they the first important patrons of Cubism, Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo were also important influences on Cubism as well. Picasso in turn was an important influence on Stein's writing.
In the field of American fiction, William Faulkner's 1930 novel As I Lay Dying can be read as an interaction with the cubist mode. The novel features narratives of the diverse experiences of 15 characters which, when taken together, produce a single cohesive body.
The poets generally associated with Cubism are Guillaume Apollinaire, Blaise Cendrars, Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob, André Salmon and Pierre Reverdy. As American poet Kenneth Rexroth explains, Cubism in poetry "is the conscious, deliberate dissociation and recombination of elements into a new artistic entity made self-sufficient by its rigorous architecture. This is quite different from the free association of the Surrealists and the combination of unconscious utterance and political nihilism of Dada." Nonetheless, the Cubist poets' influence on both Cubism and the later movements of Dada and Surrealism was profound; Louis Aragon, founding member of Surrealism, said that for Breton, Soupault, Éluard and himself, Reverdy was "our immediate elder, the exemplary poet." Though not as well remembered as the Cubist painters, these poets continue to influence and inspire; American poets John Ashbery and Ron Padgett have recently produced new translations of Reverdy's work.
- Fourth dimension in art
- "A Slight Attack of Third Dimentia Brought on by Excessive Study of the Much Talked of Cubist Pictures in the International Exhibition at New York" by John French Sloan in April 1913
- Czech Cubism
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