Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cubism / by David Cottington

Avant-Garde artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque may not have intended to spearhead a revolutionary style of art in Montmartre, France circa 1907, but that’s precisely what happened. Between 1907 -1914 Pablo Picasso along with George Braque were among the first to work in the new style of Cubism, one of the most influential, innovative styles of the early 20th century. It was Picasso’s paintings which first began portray hard angular forms using luscious colors like blue, strident yellow, black and white. For all who viewed these sharp-edged images on the canvas--heads and nudes mostly, in the brightest colors: yellow, red, blue and black--it represented a drastic departure from contemporary and conventional European artwork. It was something different, sure, but it was also something outside the conventional realm of the European aesthetic. This was because cubism, its non-fluid qualities and slanted brushwork, garishly attributed its methodology and ideology to more "primitive", non-archetypal artwork, in a sense merging the primitive with the abstract.

But the object of cubism wasn't merely to portray elemental forms within a geometric motif. These “new” paintings clearly characterized the representational as well as the structural, trying to reproduce the formal beauty of things. The objective of "cubism" was to represent the position of objects in space: the artist arranges images from a clearly defined background and works toward the front, envisioning an abstract, multi-dimensional piece. Other interpretations speculated that the style never meant to have anything to do with shapes or forms; nor was it a set of rigorously defined guidelines associated with geometry or rigid contours. Rather it was a style which invariably gave a fourth dimension to images. In any case, it was the beginning of a new wave of intellectual art in the twentieth century. Author and art scholar Cottington does a good job of providing the reader with a solid understanding of this unique style of artwork within the historical context it was associated with. (709.04 COTTINGT)

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