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Origin and definition of cubism

Origin and definition of abstract, modern and contemporary art: cubism, futurism, surrealism, constructivism, minimalism

Cubism: An artistic revolution in the representation of reality

Cubism is one of the most influential artistic movements of the 20th century. It was developed by a group of revolutionary artists at the turn of the century, notably Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. This movement radically transformed the way artists represented reality and opened up new perspectives in the field of art.

Origins and characteristics of Cubism

Cubism was born in Paris in the early 1900s. It takes its name from the geometric shapes, in particular the cube, that characterize cubist works. Cubist artists sought to represent reality from different angles and perspectives simultaneously, breaking down shapes into geometric facets and reconstructing them on canvas.

Cubism is often divided into two phases: analytical cubism and synthetic cubism. Analytical Cubism, developed between 1907 and 1912, is characterized by a fragmentation of space and a limited color palette. Forms are deconstructed into a multitude of facets, giving an impression of complexity and abstraction. Works by Picasso such as « Les Demoiselles d’Avignon » and « Les Trois Musiciens » illustrate this period well.

Synthetic Cubism, which emerged around 1912, focused on synthesizing forms from different elements. Artists began to incorporate collages, letters, newspapers and other materials into their works, creating a sculptural dimension. Picasso’s « Still Life with Caned Chair » is a famous example of Synthetic Cubism.

Emblematic artists and works

Many artists left their mark on the Cubist movement with innovative works. Here are some of the most emblematic artists of Cubism.

These artists all played an essential role in the development and evolution of Cubism, helping to shape the aesthetics and vision of this revolutionary artistic movement.

Pablo Picasso

One of the pioneers of Cubism, Picasso experimented with form and perspective in works such as « Les Demoiselles d’Avignon » (1907) and « Guernica » (1937).

Georges Braque

Picasso’s artistic partner, Braque developed Analytical Cubism in close collaboration with him. His work « Le Viaduc à l’Estaque » (1908) is considered a major example of Cubism.

Juan Gris

Gris made his own contribution to synthetic Cubism, using everyday objects in his collages. His « Still Life with Checked Tablecloth » (1915) is a notable example of his distinctive cubist style.

Fernand Léger

Léger combined cubism with futurism, creating a unique style. His work « Les Constructeurs » (1950) is a striking example of his use of geometric forms and dynamic compositions. This painting features workers and machines in an industrial landscape, reflecting the modernist aesthetic and optimism of technical progress.

Léger developed a distinctive approach to Cubism by incorporating elements of Futurism, an Italian art movement focused on the representation of speed, technology and modernity. In « Les Constructeurs », bold geometric shapes and vivid colors are used to represent architectural structures and machines. Straight lines and sharp angles blend harmoniously with flowing curves, creating a dynamic tension in the work.

This unique combination of cubism and futurism enabled Léger to capture the essence of 20th-century urban and industrial life. His distinctive style and innovative compositions have influenced many contemporary artists and left an indelible mark on the history of art.

Robert Delaunay

Known for his bold use of color, Delaunay developed a cubist style known as orphism. His work « Formes circulaires, soleil, lune » (1913-1914) demonstrates his exploration of light and color in the context of cubism.

Albert Gleizes

Gleizes was one of the leading theoreticians of Cubism. His work « Man at the Balcony » (1912) illustrates his interest in the simultaneous representation of different viewpoints.

Marcel Duchamp

Although Duchamp is best known for his contributions to the Dada movement, his early works were influenced by Cubism. His work « Nu descendant un escalier n° 2 » (1912) shows the Cubist influence in its fragmented representation of movement.

Découvrir des artistes cubistes

To find out more about Cubism and discover more of its artists and iconic works, here are a few links to relevant resources:

Original abstract paintings by Patrick Cristallini

Painter and photographer
from Lyon

Web gallery of contemporary art and abstract art


Lyon / France