Overview Of Cubism, Its Analytical And Synthetic Phases

In the early 20th century, a modern art movement flourished across Europe. The development of the society at this time was reflected in a range of styles. The start of the twentieth century saw a number of social, technological and economic changes. After the First World War and its tragedy, people sought to find a way out. A new movement was born as classical art began to fade and nationalistic ideas increased. At this point, the art reflected the changing ideologies. Artists created works that reflect subject matters like perspective, reality, and time perception. Scientists and psychologists made advances in science and psychoanalysis, such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory, which led to new subject matters and a new style of art, cubism.

Cubism challenged Renaissance aesthetics and perceptions about space. Flat surfaces, linear constructions and monochromatic colors palettes replaced techniques such as perspective and three dimensionality. Louis Vauxcelles coined the word Cubism in 1908. Henri Matisse a French colorist and painter, tried to explain Braque’s landscapes to Vauxcelles by saying that they appeared to be made up of cubes. The term cubism’ has been widely used in the press since 1911. Cubism is a avant-garde art movement that was influenced in part by artists such as Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso. Cubists wanted to create a style of art that reflected the new age. The movement has been popularized for most of the 20th-century, but its influence is still felt in other artistic movements, such as Futurism or Constructivism.

Cubism is not only a painting or sculpture movement, but also a literary, architectural and musical one. Cubism’s roots can be traced back to the period between 1907 and 1914, in Paris. This was when Picasso showed Georges Braque Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. The public viewed the painting as a radical one because of its crude and blatant nature. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon portrays five naked women provocatively posed to evoke an overtly sexual interest. They have mask-like faces, which is typical of Picasso who took his inspiration from Iberian carvings and African Masks. In addition, the painting exhibits Picasso’s desire to stray away from three-dimensionality. The women appear on a flattened, geometrically-shaped plane. Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon drew Braque’s attention. Braque collaborated later with Picasso, to lead a revolutionary new movement. Early Cubism became known as analytic cubism. From 1908 to 1911, the analytical cubism phase was a radical departure from previous two-dimensional and 3-dimensional techniques.

Artists like Brunelleschi, Masaccio and others have used linear perspective in their art for many years. A single point of view was used to reflect a fixed space and fixed time. Cubism’s fathers believed one perspective could not convey the reality of a scene and that it was dishonest. Picasso and Braque said that Cubism would mean a shift in the way we represent emotions and more towards a logical, systematic approach. Picasso and his contemporaries created a sense simultaneity to achieve the fourth dimension and multiple perspectives, which depicted both time and movement. Picasso’s images showed all sides of a subject simultaneously. He believed this was realistic, conceptually speaking. The ambiguous area was filled with geometric shapes, overlapping surfaces, multiple viewpoints, fragmented form, and monochromatic colors. The image was focused on the structure and density of the form by reducing the palette of colors to black, gray and brown. Though it may appear abstract, analytical cubism is a more enhanced version of realism. Commonly, still life subjects such as figures, bottles, and musical instruments were used. Picasso popularized simultaneity, which was then continued and existed in other artistic movements.

During this period, the artists fused both the concept and physical appearance of subject matter. In many cases, the past and present are represented in a single image. Surrealism was born from this merging of abstract and reality. Many notable artists tried to symbolise the depths in the subconscious and conscious mind by combining the two. Picasso’s Portrait Ambroise Vollard is widely considered to be the first example of this style. Picasso’s portrait of Ambroise, the famous art-collector and trader, was dismembered through an apparent broken mirror. Vollard’s eyes, nose and solemn expression are still clearly visible despite the fragmentation. The shards of crystal are created by layering flat geometric planes that intersect at different points. Like other paintings of its type, this one is primarily focused on geometric form. The deconstruction and rearrangement is what creates an optical approach which is multifaceted and truthful. This style was prevalent for years in painting until 1912, when it was abruptly abandoned. Synthetic cubism, a unique medium, focused on synthesising the different forms that were depicted.

Mixed media can be used to divert attention from the actual subject and focus on the aesthetics. A wider color palette was used to create a more elaborate and decorative representation of the shapes. Texture plays a big role in painting construction, using both smooth and coarse surfaces. To create a collage effect, artists sometimes pasted newspaper prints cutouts on cloths or text. Braque’s papier collages show this. Braque used this technique for the first time in Fruit Dish and Glass, his most famous papier-colle piece. Braque’s surface and texture were important to him. This was his most influential phase in cubism. Braque noticed in a shop’s window while working in southern France with Picasso a roll that would become the basis of his piece. Braque combined wood-grain sections with charcoal shadings to create depth and texture. In Fruit Dish and Glass specifically, the wood-like simulated material was used to represent drawers on tables, floors, or even walls of bars. Fruit Dish and Glass was a work that revolutionized Cubism and helped to pave the way for artists in the future who would use this style of technique. Juan Gris was among the many illustrators who were heavily influenced Picasso and Braque’s works. Gris’s introduction to analytic Cubism began in Paris after he met Picasso. He helped the development of this movement. Gris’ Homage a Pablo Picasso is a tribute to his mentor Picasso. It consists of a series fragments that have been arranged on the canvas in various planes. Gris suggests that Picasso is a respectable master through his refined color palette and portraiture.

Andre Lhote began a new approach to cubism in 1914 when the novelty of the movement was beginning to wane. The result would be a significant impact on future art. Lhote used cubist methods to paint his landscapes. Lhote did not accept the cubist movement theory. Lhote developed his own philosophy and was a master in it. Sur La Terrasse is an example of his cubism-inspired style. The painting depicts a natural scene. Lhote was successful because he could use an existing technique and harmonize it with his own traditionalism. Lhote’s and other artists’ efforts to achieve a delicate balance were instrumental in the advancement of cubism years after its introduction. Cubism revolutionized the art world in an age of changing perspectives. The economic, societal and psychological factors that influenced the Cubist movement are crucial to understanding its influence through history. Picasso, Braque, Gris and other artists were able convey a unique form of truth in their works of art by using a multitude of viewpoints. Cubism’s uniqueness and its rejection of conventional methods are a reflection of the impact it had on 20th-century society.


  • lindabarber

    I'm Linda Barber, a 29-year-old blogger and teacher. I'm passionate about writing and communicating ideas, and I love helping others achieve their goals. I also love going on adventures, learning new things, and spending time with my family and friends.



I'm Linda Barber, a 29-year-old blogger and teacher. I'm passionate about writing and communicating ideas, and I love helping others achieve their goals. I also love going on adventures, learning new things, and spending time with my family and friends.

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