and Other Styles

In 1970, Douglas Cooper published an important book on cubism called The Cubist Epoch. Although some of his ideas have been challenged more recently, he provides a good place to start.1

Apollinaire, one of the writers on cubism in the early , tried to establish a connection between cubism and the of Courbet. Courbet’s innovation was the refusal of abstract ideals of beauty in favor of a more sordid realism. The impressionists, although their is rooted in the real world, were not concerned with this sordid reality since their focus was light and color. The neo- and other post-impressionists did not completely abandon reality but their interest was the idea, a transcendence of reality to reach a deeper plane. Cezanne, to a degree, bridges these directions. He wanted to represent permanence and transience, volume and flatness, the effects of light and structure. It is in this respect, of seeking both sides of the dualities raised by realism and the impressionist response, that is most related to Cezanne. We see these dichotomies most clearly in the pre-cubist of Demoiselles d’Avignon, a painting which is not flat but does not create the true illusion of depth, a painting which uses the female nude (an eternal icon of beauty) to communicate the antithesis of beauty.

As both Picasso and Braque begin to more toward a more geometric, angled and seemingly multifaceted rendering of the figure, the primitivizing influence does not immediately leave their work although it is relocated in the hatchmarks and in a tendency to make the figures look as though they have been carved of wood. [See Figure 1: Picasso, Woman in Yellow, 1907.] By 1911, this effect has been eclipsed by their interest in opening up forms and planes and in uniting the figure and ground through the planar structure of space [see Figure 2: Picasso, Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, 1910]. This is the point at which their work becomes hermetic, or difficult to decipher, as the artists appear to be more concerned with the structure of lines and planes than they are with the “objective” content of the picture. This does create a conflict since the artists never give up that content, even as their become more abstract, but eventually they resolve it in the direction of reality, in large part by inserting elements from reality into the art work. These “alien” materials do two things for the paintings: they reinforce the flatness of the surface, and in many cases, they offer ironic commentaries on the real world. , they do a third thing as well: they emphasize the fact that a work of art is constructed out of materials. [See Figure 3: Braque, with Glass, Dice and Playing Card, 1913, and 4: Picasso, Guitar (El Diluvio), 1913.]

For Cooper, this development leads to the end of what he calls “high” cubism, as the artists begin to imitate textural patterns, to introduce materials which have their materiality, and essentially create works of art which contain different levels of reality. For other writers, while not specifically calling this the end, it is the moment when Picasso, at least, recognizes that painting is an “impoverished” activity because it will always be removed from the world. But if this is the case, then the artist must find some way to put even greater distance between the art work and the world.2 We note that around 1912, Picasso began to make three-dimensional constructions. [See figure 5: Picasso, Still Life, 1914.] We might also note that he never gives up painting but his paintings do not continue to look like analytic cubist paintings after around 1913. After 1914, Picasso begins to return naturalistic techniques to his paintings without abandoning cubist techniques [Figure 6: Picasso, The Card Player, 1913-14].

In Cooper’s discussion, the followers of Picasso and Braque did not really understand cubism and used it in a decorative manner, compressing space so as to bring more of the object into the picture. Not everyone agrees with this interpretation although just about everyone does agree that the cubism of artists like Gleizes and Metzinger does not have the radical or innovative qualities that Picasso and Braque brought to their work. [Figure 7: Metzinger, Fruit and Jug on a Table, 1916]

Cooper identifies four categories of cubism:

True or Instinctive Cubism: which consists of Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Leger (most people now divide this into two groups: the first or “analytic” period and the second or “synthetic” period, and they place Gris and Leger in the second period)

Systematic Cubism: artists who flirted with the ideas of cubism or used it as a stylistic formula (Gleizes, Metzinger, Le Fauconnier) (writers now refer to these artists as the “salon” cubists)

Orphic cubism: a cubism which is more interested in color than in form (Delaunay, , Stanton MacDonald-Wright) (this is still pretty much the definition although recent writing on Delaunay offers some arguments that his interest in color is an interest in the process of seeing)

Kinetic cubism: used some of the vocabulary of cubism but concerned with the expression of movement (Duchamp, Villon, , Futurists) (this is the most questionable category) [Figure 8: Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912]

By 1914, cubism had changed so substantially that most writers invented a new word for it. By the , not even the cubists themselves talk about cubism and even they might be accused of using it as one of many styles.

Below I’ve appended a summary of styles I once prepared for a class in early art. It seemed useful to have a list of definitions and examples. I probably don’t agree with all of it anymore but my goal at the time was more “dictionary” than theory.

A Summary of Modern Styles, early 20th century

Fauvism: relates to in intensity of colors, planarity of forms, emphasis on linearity-- especially curvilinearity. It is unlike synthetism in that there still is three-dimensional space, and the subject matter is closer to the subject matter of --nature through the "temperament" of the artist. Color harmonies express the relationship of the artist to the world, and color is used to create space. Another way of saying all this: the fauves simplify technique and the use of symbols--line is emphasized, colors are unmodulated (pure), an academic finish is neglected--the goal is to communicate the direct experience of a single emotional state. [Note that this definition leaves out all discussion of subject matter and , which was actually the way the movement was discussed until the 1990s.] Artists: Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck, 1904-07. : this is most difficult to define, because all artists "express" themselves, and difficult to describe, since it appears to look different in all the artists called “expressionist.” But this latter fact simply confirms the notion that the meaning of style has less to do with how something looks than it has to do with what problem the artist is trying to solve. The term was first used to describe the expression of strong emotions in art; then it was used to designate a particular German form of art, which was a rejection of impressionism by changing the focus from capturing the effects of light to one of depicting a personal, interior response to the world. This subjective response leads to paintings which seem to place distortion above an objective depiction of the world. In particular, it seems to be an emotional response to urbanism and a world which is believed to be in a state of decadence and decline. Stylistically, the sources are diverse: a combination of influences from post-impressionist painters, , cubism and , , northern art. Cubism, however, is probably the least significant of these influences – the characteristic angularity of a painter such as Kirchner could just as easily be attributed to the gothic influence. Artists: Kirchner, Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff, Marc, Macke, Meidner, Kandinsky, Nolde, Modersohn-Becker, Kollwitz. cubism: if expressionism is an emotional response to the world, cubism is an intellectual/conceptual response. It is about perception, but perception as a process which includes memory of what is seen and the experience of seeing something over time (which leads to the focus on including multiple angles or viewpoints of a single object). Up to here, this is an old definition, based largely on the writing of Gleizes and Metzinger. Cubism rejects renaissance , and it rejects the idea of the art work as a representation of some reality that exists outside of the art work. In this respect, the cubist work of art is its own reality; it represents itself (as one writer says, the essence of cubism was to "make of each picture a new tangible reality rather than an illusion of some imaginary reality or an image of a purely visual sensation of reality"). The focus on the work of art as reality leads to an interest in depicting the process of making art. For example, aspects of painting which previously had been signs of the presence or absence of light now become signs of the process of painting, or components of a language. Words and letters are used in cubist paintings to reinforce this idea of art as a language. The interest in representing process is also true of the Russian constructivists although it takes a different visual form in their work. analytic or "true" cubism: a record or analysis of the perceptual experience of an object over time; characterized by faceting of objects, multiple points of view, architectonic composition, grid-like structure uniting object with background (Picasso and Braque). synthetic cubism: almost the reverse process of the above--a record of the materialization of an object as it emerges from planes and shapes. The are more likely to be synthetic than analytic. [See Figures 9: , Smoker, 1913; 10: Ferdnand Leger, Stairway, 1913; and 11: Picasso, Harlequin, 1915.] orphic cubism: (includes synchromy): movement is created through color; color, not geometry, is the form and the subject (Robert and , and the American synchromists Morgan Russell and Staunton MacDonald-Wright). [See Figures 12: R. Delauna, Circular Forms, Sun and Moon, 1912-13; and 13: S. Delaunay, Dubonnet, 1914.] : centralizes rationality and order and universality in the depiction of forms; a rejection of earlier cubism for being too personal and too decorative (Ozenfant and Jeanneret, or )

American cubism, or : relates more to purism than to true cubism; a machine-age or industrial age view of the landscape, emphasis on clean or precise edges in the rendering of forms (, , and a few others) [Figure 14: Charles Demuth, My , 1927].

Futurism: an art which rejects traditional political and cultural values; it insists on experiencing the present in terms of speed, movement, dynamism; modern life should be the subject. Instead of the cubist fragmentation of an object, the focus in futurism is on "force lines" and the vibrations of movement. Whereas in cubism, daily life often becomes the subject matter, in futurism the subject is war, riots, athletes, the diffusion of electric light. In and in painting, a sense of the object unfolding in space and in time is a goal; the viewer should be thrust into the center of the painting. If cubism is an intellectual and conceptual response to reality, then futurism is an emotional and dynamic response. Stylistically, evolves from () and cubism; but this will be overlaid with a more agitated, dynamic field of movement or force lines. Since expressionism also evolved from neo-impressionism, the reason why some of the early expressionist work looks like some of the early futurist work can be traced to the style influences on these artists. artists: Boccioni, Carra, Balla, Severini, Sant-Elias.

Russian neo-: Russian artists deliberately turn to native Russian sources--peasant art, the lubok (graphics: a combination of text and illustration, first made by hand-printed methods, later by mass-produced printing), other Eastern , Russian icon painting. There are some parallels to the styles of Cezanne and Gauguin, and there may be some direct influence of these artists on the . Cubism is not likely to be an influence until around 1913, futurism around the same time; but these influences are not reflected in the neo- primitivist artworks. Larionov and Goncharova and Malevich, as well, all painted in a neo- primitivist style until around 1912. Characteristics: coarse outlining, flatness or untrue perspective, figures that often do not appear planted on the ground plane, bold colors, use of size to indicate distance and to indicate relationships of important/lesser important figures; when the icon is the influence, there may be isocephaly of figures (i.e., all the figures are at the same height--we see this in some of Goncharova's paintings). It has recently been suggested that the influence for Larionov is the art of children, although not everyone agrees with this hypothesis.

Rayonism: although there are Russian artists who call themselves futurists, looks more like Italian futurism than other Russian art forms. Its central interest is in the rays of color/light emitted by objects; these rays of color are the means for how we perceive an object in rayonism. Larionov speaks of collisions of color and light, creating drama in the painting. Ultimately, through the life of the rays of color, the viewer will attain a glimpse of the fourth dimension. Larionov and Goncharova are rayonists after about 1912. There are paintings by these artists that look more like a reflection of cubist/futurist ideas; they generally precede the development of rayonism. : developed by Malevich, this movement asserts the "supremacy" of the plane (rectangle or square) of color. The is the first suprematist painting, and Malevich refers to it as the "zero" of form, from which all creation will then emerge. The goal of this movement is transcendence of the logical world, to reach the fourth dimension. [Figure 15: : Suprematist Composition, 1915]

Constructivism: a Russian post-revolutionary movement expressed in stage design, , and graphics primarily, and to a much lesser extent in painting. Dominated by a goal of expressing the properties of the materials used and a goal of efficacy or the fulfillment of social and aesthetic goals in an efficient manner, Tatlin did visit Picasso and he was clearly influenced by Picasso’s collages, but when we get to the period of true , it is quite difficult to see any connection to cubism. Artists: Tatlin, Rodchenko, Stepanova, Popova, Vesnin, and others [Figure 16: , Corner Relief, 1914-15].

Surrealism: the goal is to express the true functioning of the mind, through such means as dream imagery, drawing that is not consciously directed (psychic automatism), fantastic imagery, art that is not censored by the conscious mind. Some is dominated by automatist practices; some surrealism uses illusionary techniques and depicts dream-like or "otherworldly" objects and events. The art of women surrealists does not seem to fit this goal of unconsciously directed, uncensored art. It shares the fantastic imagery, but it focuses very explicitly on transformations of the person, especially of the female into an autonomous, creative artists. Ernst, Masson, Matta, Tanguy, Dali, Magritte; Carrington, Varo, Tanning, Oppenheim.

1. Douglas Cooper, The Cubist Epoch (London: Phaidon, 1970).

2. This theme of cubism as an attempt to rid the painting of illusion (hence, dis-illusionment) is developed by T.J. Clark, Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999). Image Group All Collections GO ART428SPR2011 > 02. Cubism and cubisms Go to advanced search

Sort by Relevance Page of 1

21 result(s) Click image to select. Double click to enlarge. Click caption to view full record.

Woman in Yellow Portrait of Dani... Still Life with ... Guitar (El Diluvio) Still Life Card Player Picasso, Picasso Picasso, Pablo Picasso 1907 1910 1913 1913 1914 1913-14

Fruit and a Jug ... Nude Descending a ... Smoker Stairway Harlequin Circular Forms, Sun ... Duchamp, Marcel Gris, Juan, 1887... Leger, Ferdnand Picasso Delaunay, Robert, ... 1916 1912 1913 1913 1915 1912-3

Dubonnet My Egypt Suprematist Compo... Corner Relief The Portuguese Free Words (Inte... Delaunay, Sonia Charles Demuth Malevich, Kazimir Tatlin, Vladimir Braque, Georges Carra, Carlos 1914 1927 1915 1914-15 (original; ... 1911 1914

Early Morning Woman with a Cat Violin Popova, Liubov' ... Fernand Léger Georges Braque 1914 1921 c. 1913

[21] Record(s) Page of 1