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Lifetime of Color Essay

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In the 1900s, the world was suddenly enveloped by vagueness and uncertainty on what the future will bring. Prior to this period, the ambience was definite and secure. In relation to the art world, many artists were trying to outgrow the traditional styles that flourished all over the world. They wanted to create something different based from the conventional aesthetics popularized by the Renaissance. These artisans were considered as the founders of Modernism because they were trying to search for ways on how to display their new found outlook to ambiguity.

This scenario laid the grounds for the founding of Cubism. This avant-garde art style movement began when a French painter called Paul Cezanne began to change his Impressionist style. Cezanne shifted from painting landscapes with pastel colors and soft brushstrokes to concentrating on portraying his own interpretation of the “shapes and forms” and he stayed away from rendering a realistic pictorial output. More so, he put more importance on the painting as a whole rather than focusing on the subject or the theme.

Then, another artist came into the picture named Henri Matisse who also paved the way for the development of Cubism. Together with Louis Vauxcelles, an art critic and French journalist who “coined the term ‘les fauves’ (the wild animals) for the artists of Fauvism,” Matisse discovered an unusual painting by George Braque at the “Salon d’ Automne. ” He said that the artwork incorporated “little cubes. ” Braque’s painting showcased the landscape of the South of France with a surprising twist of including “two ascending lines meeting at the top and between several cubes.

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” This work of art provided artists who were looking for change with a new direction. Braque was the very first artist to create a cubist painting. Since then, despite the negative criticisms, cubism became an established style and art movement. The term “cubism” was developed by Vauxcelles when he was writing a report about the “Salon des Independants in 1909. ” Through the ingenuity and innovation of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, cubism has gained a big following in France and rest of the world. According to Picasso,

Cubism has tangible goals. We see it only as a means of expressing what we perceive with the eye and the spirit, while utilizing the possibilities that lie within the natural properties of drawing and color, That became a source of unexpected joy for us, a front to discoveries. (Gantefuhrer-Trier, Gantefuhrer and Grosenick 2004, 6) It is evident that Cubism is the brainchild of Picasso and Braque. They were responsible for the proliferation of a modern, radical and powerful art style that significantly influenced the 20th century.

The main focus of this style and movement is the “complete denial of Classical conception of beauty. ” The untrained eye evaluated the by-products of the cubists as perplexing but for the avant-garde, they perceived cubism as the way to the future. In cubism, many traditional elements such as proportions, lines, perspective and forms are distorted. As a result, the visual representation looked like “a field of broken glass. ” Because of this, cubism became known for its “geometrically analytical approach to form and color, and shattering of object in focus into geometrical sharp-edged angular pieces.

” To form these unusual shapes, a systematic deconstruction was employed to create an illusion of three- dimensionality. Many cubists doubted the integrity of “whole” images because for them these were the synthetic and conventional outputs of the past artisans. They believed that “perspective space is an illusory, rational invention, or a sign system inherited from works of art since the Renaissance. Moreover, cubism has two major branches namely: Analytical cubism and Synthetic cubism. The former is defined as the intellectual distortion of a subject matter producing hard to interpret and ambiguous materials.

Meanwhile, the latter is more “experimental nature of a collage” and highly decorative. It is easier to comprehend than analytic cubism because the images and forms are not that distorted and abstract. Since its inception, Cubism became a worldwide phenomenon in the field of art. It continues to challenge artists even in the contemporary period to advance the art style and the movement to better reflect culture and society. Pioneers of Cubism The growth of cubism in the 20th century is accredited to Pablo Picasso and George Braque.

Both worked hand in hand in exploring and at the same time experimenting with a technique aimed at flattening space. They utilized bold colors, raw shapes and flattened space to display their non-conformist approach towards art. It was the focus on conveying emotions rather than the “intellectual experiment with structure” that set cubism from other avant-garde movements such as Fauvism. Pablo Picasso Pablo Picasso was a native of Spain. At an early age, he was already producing remarkable works of art. In the early 1900s, Picasso moved to Paris where he developed an artistic phase called the Blue period.

This was the time when he used various “shades of blue” in portraying the darker side of particular place. By the time he met Fernande Oliver, Picasso’s gloomy works transformed into bright shades of red that became known as his Rose period. The circus theme seemed to be the favorite subject of Picasso during this period. By 1906, he went to Spain that marked another modification in his art style. During his stay there, he was greatly influenced by “African, Green and Iberian art. ” He incorporated geometrical forms that made his paintings very forward-looking.

Then, Picasso met another intriguing artist named George Braque. In 1908 to 1911, they developed a unique style of painting landscape wherein they included cube shapes or forms in the picture. This became known as analytic cubism. This style was formed by “by breaking down and analyzing a object” and utilizing a monochromatic earthy brown color scheme. By 1912, Picasso started to use other elements in his artworks that resulted to the creation of collages which is also known as synthetic cubism. This style is more for decorative purposes.

In the late 1920s, Picasso moved to Rome, Italy where he got married. In this period, he painted “neoclassical pictures of women and pictures inspired by Greek mythology. ” By the time WWI broke out, Picasso created Guernica, to demonstrate his opposition over the bombing of “Basque town of Guernica on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. ” The painting was filled with symbolisms that represented the wickedness attached with the bombing. By the time of the end of WWII until Picasso’s death in 1973, his paintings veered towards more somber theme dealing about death.

Some of Picasso’s famous artworks include Woman with a Crow (1903), Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), Geometric Composition: The Guitar (1913) and many others. George Braque On the other hand, George Braque also lived a full life personally and professionally in the realm of art. He studied painting at the “local art school in Le Havre,” France. This was followed by a more formal training at the “Academie Humbert and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the studio of Leon Bonnat. ” Braque started out with impressionism wherein he was influenced by Matisse and Derain.

By 1906, he got immersed with Fauvism and started to use light and bright colors combined with undulating patterns. But he stood out from the rest of the fauvists when he employed “architectonic solidity of composition and an emphasis on strongly defined volumes rather than color and brushwork. ” The year 1907 became a crucial time for Braque and cubism. This was the time when Braque was once again inspired by Paul Cezanne and this was also the time when he met Pablo Picasso. Because of them, Braque’s outputs developed into something more radical.

After only three years, the tandem of Braque and Picasso produce a new form art style called the analytic cubism which is described as the “nonillusionistic and nonimitative method of depicting the visual world. ” The partnership of these two artists was mutual and their connection was so strong that their artworks cannot be distinguished from one another. The Violin and Pitcher (1910) is a very suitable example of an analytic cubism by Braque. Most of his paintings during this period were fragmented resulting to a “compact pictorial structure.

” In 1914, Braque ventured into another phase of cubism which was called synthetic cubism wherein the artistic treatment included the use of “brightly dotted decorative passages. ” Then, he moved to Normandy, France in the 1930s which have influenced Braque to shift his themes to seascapes. His painting style employed the use of “ornamentation and patterned surfaces. ” From the 1930s to the 1950s, Braque grew interests on birds, melancholic themes, brilliant fauvist colors that were all seen in his “sculptures, graphics, book illustration, and decorative art.

” Famous Cubist Artworks In the early 20th century, a new wave of artists have emerged that embraced a new progressive art style that had made a significant influence in the art world and the rest of the society and this was Cubism. This innovative movement aided in the development of contemporary art. More so, cubism led to the activation of many artists’ creative geniuses and induction of their bravery to go against the flow. Because of this, numerous masterpieces have emerged that embodied the unique principles and avant-garde style of cubism.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso (1907) This painting showed Picasso’s portrayal of sexuality and his defiance over the traditional rules on visual elements and principles of design. The images integrated illustrated five naked female “prostitutes in a brothel. ” In terms of form, human bodies were deformed with distorted body proportions. Also, out of the five figures, three were wearing ancient African masks that made the painting more interesting. More so, the “bold, brash diagonal lines and angular planes added a sense of violence to the composition.

” The colors used were a mix of bold hues of reds and blues that were combined with the subtle pink and flesh tones. Through this, each figure was able to stand out from one another. Another intriguing factor of the painting is the “two central figures” that appeared to be looking directly at the viewers. This was probably intentional on the part of Picasso to grab the attention of the viewers. The Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is one of the first models for analytic cubism that successfully demonstrated that three dimensionality can be achieved even without the employment of perspective.

Violin and Pitcher by Georges Braque (1909-1910) This still life painting is another example of analytic cubism. Based on the title, the main focus of this artwork is the violin and the pitcher. Many believed that Braque developed a fascination with musical instruments even if he did not know how to play. For him, painting these instruments was his way of showing his departure with naturalism. The treatment on the primary figures was distorted in order to illustrate disintegration. The violin was twisted at the bottom to make the other parts more visible.

On top of the violin is the pitcher that was also drawn in fragments to create an illusion of depth. The contrast of the shades of red and grey added more dramatic effect to the series of geometric shapes strewn all over the canvas. There is also a nail on top of the painting but it serves no real purpose unlike in Braque’s earlier painting, Violin and Palette. Underneath the nail is a “piece of paper” wherein the top right corner was folded that provided a flattening effect on the plane. This also projected a shadow that created an illusion of light “being beamed down from the top right corner.

” Glass of Beer and Playing Cards by Juan Gris (1913) Juan Gris was part of the founding of Cubism together with Braque and Picasso. He pushed for the advancement as well as for the growth of this art movement. In his painting of the Glass of Beer and Playing Cards, it is ruled over by vertical lines that divide the canvas into several segments. A coherently silhouetted beer mug might be established by shifting the vertical band that constitutes the right side of the mug upward so that the white outline becomes contiguous with the outline of the fully modeled form of the mug to its left.

But this realignment would in turn disalign the continuity between the blue curvature on the orange wallpaper and the edge of the sand to the right, both forms constituting a view from above of the beer’s foam. Changes or transformations in the appearance of an object seem to occur in a number of directions: they follow the alternating rhythm of vertical bands but also the contrapuntal system of horizontal bands. Occasionally there is also a sense of transformations occurring in depth, as if Gris had peeled away the surface of certain vertical bands to reveal an alternate mode of representation or point of view beneath.

Still Life with Chair Cane by Pablo Picasso (1912) This is first painting of Picasso to represent synthetic cubism. It was one of the first illustrations of a collage painting. The elements present in the artwork are woven chair cane, various geometric drawings, newspapers, painted letters and wine labels which were all encapsulated by a rope around the oval canvas. In contrast with analytic cubism, this painting is less on deconstruction but more on juxtaposing different elements for decorative purposes. Since there is only a minimal presence of fragmentations, depth is nonexistent making the painting more flat.

Art in the 1900s During the 1900s, several other art movements have emerged aside from Cubism. Some of these movements were the Abstraction, Fauvism, Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism. The only common factor that binds these art movements is their ability to reject tradition and their flair for the modern aesthetics. In abstraction, the artists choose not to depict reality. The images are disfigured, the details are left out and the conventional perspective is altered. Meanwhile, Fauvism is known for its use of colors in portraying emotions. Fauvists created their masterpieces by imperfectly treating colors in an arbitrary style.

On the other hand, Futurism is characterized by the abandonment of the “static and irrelevant art of the past and celebrating change, originality and innovation in culture and society. ” This style celebrates the power and vivacity of machines. Moreover, Dadaism is another movement that garnered positive as well as negative feedbacks from art aficionados. This style is defined as “nihilistic, anti-aesthetic and a reaction to the rationalization, rules and conventions of mainstream art. ” For Dada artists, their artworks are intended to be anti-art.

The last movement is Surrealism which existed through the art style of Dadaism. Surrealist art was greatly influenced by the “theories of Dr. Sigmund Freud and the unconscious” which are represented in a dream or fantasy-like manner in paintings. Though cubism had a lot of competition, it still managed to continue to influence 1920s and even way beyond to the contemporary period. Today, many modern artists are using cubism in sculptures and architecture. Cubism had become more bold and experimental. It seemed like the artists have eliminated all boundaries for the sake of the enrichment of their creativity.

Like in the 1900s, many modern artists are still faced with several challenges on how to make their artworks more pleasing to the public eye but at the same time they still want to render a significant importance to their own point of view in order not to compromise their artistic integrity for public support. The House of the Black Madonna in Czech Republic and Cal Poly Pomona University library in California symbolized that the spirit and philosophies of Cubism during its initial phase are still as intense and provocative as it is today. Conclusion In conclusion, Cubism has created a revolution in the world of art.

It defied the conventions and traditional practices that have dominated in the 1900s. For many artists, it was not easy to challenge the existing status quo. But because of their yearning for change and their craving for stimulation, they were able to withstand the scrutiny and rejection made by society. Through the resilience and the drive of the cubist style for progress, it was able to endure the test of time that it continues to persist in the 21st century. Moreover, this art style and movement is an evident symbol of how human beings can perceive the world in a totally different way.

More so, cubism has showcased the value of intellectual freedom and distinctive aesthetic, in which significantly contributed to the development of the visual art. Overall, cubism is a form of art that will keep on evolving for the expression and celebration of human’s vision, passion and imagination. BIBLIOGRAPHY “Art timeline. ” 2007. A Lifetime of Color. http://www. alifetimeofcolor. com/study/timeline. html (accessed April 24, 2009). “Cubism. ” 2007. Huntfor. com. http://www. huntfor. com/arthistory/C20th/cubism. htm (accessed April 23, 2009)

Drinkwater, Lee. “Georges Braque Violin and Pitcher. ” 2009. Lycos. co. uk. http://members. lycos. co. uk/cubist_movement/violin. htm (accessed April 24, 2009). Gantefuhrer-Trier, Anne, Gantefuhrer, Trie and Grosenick, Uta. Cubism. Germany: Taschen, 2004. “Georges Braque. ” 1999. Discoverfrance. net. http://www. discoverfrance. net/France/Art/Braque/Braque. shtml (accessed April 23, 2009). Grisham, Kathleen. “Analytical Cubism. ” n. d. West Valley College. http://instruct. westvalley. edu/grisham/1d_analycub. html (accessed April 23, 2009).

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