Pablo Picasso and Cubism in Painting and Sculpture
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Pablo Picasso and Cubism in Painting and Sculpture

Pablo Picasso along with Georges Braque pioneered the avant-garde art movement called “Cubism” in the 20th century. The cubist movement revolutionized European painting and sculpture and its influence spread to music and literature too.

The iconic Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) popularly known as Pablo Picasso must be the owner of one of the longest names in human history. Here goes Picasso’s full name: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. Picasso is the co-founder of the epoch-making Cubist movement in painting and sculpture. This movement developed in to painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, etc. through out Europe and America. His most famous works include ‘Le Demoiselles d’Avignon’(1907) and ‘Guernica’ (1937).


Pablo Picasso along with Georges Braque pioneered the avant-garde art movement called “Cubism” in the 20th century. The cubist movement revolutionized European painting and sculpture and its influence spread to music and literature too. The early phase of was known as ‘Analytic Cubism’. The first phase of Cubism existed as a significant art movement in France between 1907 and 1911. There emerged a second phase of Cubism called ‘Synthetic Cubism’ and the movement grew and spread to other places and remained a vital art movement until the emergence of Surrealist movement around 1911.

WOMAN WITH A GUITAR (1913) Georges Braque

An Early Example of Synthetic Cubism


In Cubism, the object is not depicted from one view point only. On the other hand, the artist tries to depict the object from multiple viewpoints so that the subject may be represented in a greater context. In Cubism, it is difficult to get a coherent sense of depth because the surfaces intersect at seemingly random angles. A distinctive feature of cubism is that the background and object planes interpenetrate one another and a shallow ambiguous space is created.

LE GUITARISTE (1910) Pablo Picasso

Oil on Canvas

An Example of Analytic Cubism


The German artist Paul Cezanne’s (1898-1900) work Demoiselles is considered as the starting point for Cubism. This work marks the birth of a new pictorial idiom. The Cubists explored Cezanne’s art further and represented all the surfaces of depicted objects in a single picture plane. They presented as if the objects had all their faces visible at the same time. There started a revolutionary movement in the depiction of objects as they are visualized.


Oil on Canvas


The pioneers of the Cubist movement were Picasso and Braque. Their initial activities were in Paris. Later they were joined by Juan Gris. By the outbreak of the World War I in 1914, the cubist movement spread throughout Europe. It was French art critic Louis Vauxcelles who first used the term “Cubism”. Renowned art historian Ernst Gombrich describes cubism as "the most radical attempt to stamp out ambiguity and to enforce one reading of the picture—that of a man-made construction, a coloured canvas." Cubism was introduced to the United States in 1913 by Jacques Villon when he conducted an exhibition. Czech artists realized the great significance of Cubism and it grew there as Czech Cubism.

THREE MUSICIANS (1921) Pablo Picasso

A Classic Example of Synthetic Cubism

image source




1. Richardson, John. A Life Of Picasso, The Cubist Rebel 1907-1916. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991, p.225. ISBN 978-0-307-26665-1

2. Grace Glueck, Picasso Revolutionized Sculpture Too, NY Times, exhibition review 1982

3. Douglas Cooper, "The Cubist Epoch", pp. 11–221, Phaidon Press Limited 1970 in association with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art ISBN 0 87587041 4

4. Ernst Gombrich (1960) Art and Illusion, as quoted in Marshall McLuhan (1964) Understanding Media, p.12 [1]

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