Original Cubist Paintings

Cubism has had a tremendous impact on art history. Two famous artists, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who were influenced by Fauvism, are credited with starting Cubism in 1908. The root of the word Cubism, "cube", describes its general idea: an object is depicted by "cubing" it or breaking it down into essential shapes. Those shapes are then rearranged into an abstract composition-often depicting more than one perspective of the same view. With the experimentation of Cubism, artists began to play with other techniques, like collage. Although classic cubist works were often still lifes and portraits, cubism gradually embraced many unique characteristics. Artists in America combined cubist composition techniques with a colorful sense of jazz rhythms and the urban industrial scene. True to cubism, the painting shows a variety of perspectives, often misaligned. Shapes in cubist paintings not only allow the painter to play with our perception of two and three dimensional spaces, but the formal language of Cubism also expresses psychological and conceptual concerns. The composition contains a mixture of forms reduced down to basic shapes. By interweaving fractured shapes that jump and recede from jagged planes, Cubists challenge the notion of what a painting is. Hence, they create a tension between a representation of three-dimensional space and a painting as a flat two-dimensional design on the canvas's surface. Although early cubists paintings were often reduced to a monochrome of brown tones, the use of collage and found materials allowed cubists to reintroduce color into their work. Most of cubists' colors practically sing. Brush strokes range from being assertive and bold to chiaroscuro, or soft shading of light and dark. Whatever the painterly style of the artist, the Cubists' mark serves to give both energy and form to their subject.

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Cubism is considered to be one of the most influential artistic movements of the 20th century. It was pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and refers largely to a broad assortment of art produced in Paris from the 1910s throughout the 1920s. Most Cubist works are known for their flat, two-dimensional appearance, and they heavily feature geometric shapes, lines, and angles. The color palette was typically neutral at first, but as the movement evolved, additional colors, textures, and unusual elements such as text began to appear, giving the later pieces of Cubist art a distinct, collage-like aesthetic. Cubist art is unique because it is not meant to be viewed from a realistic or authentic perspective. Instead of painting a subject at a particular moment in time or in a particular light, Cubist painters observed their subject from all possible angles, and then created a painting which incorporated the perspective from every vantage point, blending them all into one painting. This creates a deconstructed-and-reassembled effect which is also known as “multiple perspective” or “multiplicity”.


In order to create the rather two-dimensional look of Cubist art, techniques such as linear perspective and tonal gradation are employed. Typically, artists create the illusion of space by invoking perspective to make subjects appear larger and clearer when the viewer is close to the painting, and smaller and unfocused when viewed from a distance. To create the illusion of three-dimensional objects, artists carefully employ tones and shadows, gradually altering the depth and shading to make simple lines appear as solid objects. However, in Cubist art, artists instead use flat geometric shapes to represent all sides and angles of the subject at once, overlapping them to create multiple perspective and give the viewer a deeper understanding of the subject in question. This helped Cubist artists to show the true essence of what their subjects really are, not just what they look like on the outside.