Archive for the ‘Cubism’ Category

Cubist (modern) Portraits

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Ambroise Vollard - Pablo PicassoPicasso painted countless portraits in the Cubist style. Between fall and spring of 1909 Picasso painted over 60 portraits of his mistress and companion, Fernande Olivier. This is an amazing series of portraits and no other painter has this scope of work devoted to the portraiture of a single person. Picasso remains the single most prolific Cubist portrait artist.

The facial features in Cubist portraits are broken up and re-assembled in a very abstract form. In this style the artist depicts the portrayed person in a myriad of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context as well as from many perspectives. As Cubism evolved, Cubist artists began to focus even more on structure. This created the period that was called “Analytical Cubism”.

At this stage, bright colors were removed and portraits became monochromatic and were painted with earth tones. This helped the artist focus primarily on the structure of the painting. In the portraits of this period all the facial features: eyes, ears, nose, hair, etc, were deconstructed and rearranged again within the painting. The goal of all this expression was to depict different viewpoints at the same time.

Up until this point, artists saw objects or people as always viewed from one specific angle and at one specific moment in time. Picasso and Braque found this to be too limiting, and desired to represent objects and portraits as if the person was viewed from many angles or at different moments in time.

While at early periods of Cubism, the viewer could somewhat recognize the person being painted but as cubism evolved recognizing the subject became more and more difficult. This was indeed innovative while portraits became completely incomprehensible to the viewer. It became extremely difficult to recognize the person behind the portrait. It is interesting to note here that viewing the subject from many different angles and perspectives makes one loose the reference of the person, at least as many of us understand it.


Most Representative Painting of the Cubist Style – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon - Pablo PicassoThe most representative of the Cubist paintings and the one painting that started it all was Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. This painting became pivotal in the history of modern art. This painting changed everything for Picasso.

Les Demoiselles de Avignon was Picasso’s earliest work, which broke dramatically from the figurative and poetic paintings from the first part of his life. The painting relates directly to the prostitution district of Paris. In this painting the features of the three women to the left were inspired by the wooden carvings on which Picasso worked during the summer of 1906.

The two women to the right were based on African and Oceanic masks. Their bodies are so razor-sharp that it looks as if they might cut you if you touched them. These women appear to be seductive and yet horrifying at the same time. It was a long time before this painting became acceptable to even the most progressive members of the artistic community. Picasso felt that his whole understanding of painting had transformed in doing this painting, which he called his “first exorcism picture.”


Cubism explained

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Marcel Duchamp - Nude Descending a StaircaseCubism is a 20th Century Style of painting that gained prominence through the works of Pablo Picasso and his collaborator in this art form, Georges Braque 1907 – 1914. In the summer of 1906 Picasso started to form the basis of Cubism. Iberian, Greek and African Art heavily influenced the development of Cubism. This is evident in many of the paintings during this period.

The style of Cubism is one that demands that the artist have a deep understanding of the literal form of an object. What happens next is that the artist represents the object or subject in the painting by showing all views at once in cylinders, cubes, and cones. It appears that instead of just painting an object in the common realism, the image is deconstructed and reassembled in the sum total of its parts.

You may appear to be looking at all sides and facets of an image, broken down into smaller cubes. The usual artistic and aesthetic sensibilities seem to be suspended here with objects converging and overlapping. The standard artistic perspective is abandoned to create what appears to be the image broken down and reassembled. In the style of Cubism, an artist must know how to construct an image in order to deconstruct it and reorder the image to inform the viewer in a new way.

In a time-line continuum Cubism sits between the Impressionist period and Surrealism. This is what defines the larger genre of Modern Art. Cubism started initially as a conversation Cézanne had, with other important artists of the day (Picasso and Braque et al.) that discussed the importance and purity of the geometric forms of cubes, cones and other shapes. The name “Cubism” was derived from artists and critics describing this school of art as appearing to be broken up into little cubes.


Modern portrait artists (Cubism)

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Modern portrait Cubism

Portrait artists create portrait paintings while drawing inspiration from real life objects and persons around them. However, what adds to their significance is the ability to extend and twist common aspects of regular life. Most of the time, such painters tend to depict a painting based on their own interpretation of a particular subject. So while the muse maybe a woman with a mandolin, the outcome of the portrait maybe very different. In the final painted portrait, aspects which traditionally were the most valued aspects of the portrait, such as the facial expression of the woman being portrayed, may be the least important part of a modern portrait. It all depends on the personal perspective of the artist.

A good example of this is Picasso’s woman with mandolin, painted in 1910. Traditional artists depict objects & people from one viewpoint. Cubist artists paint objects & people from different perspectives to represent them from different angles. Cubist artists first analyze the subject. Afterwards they break it up and re-assemble it in an abstract form. This way, the subject can be viewed from different perspectives.


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