Cubism And Reality

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CUBISM : REALITY AND ABSTRACTION
Alison McGinn

Cubism is widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovative movements of the 20th Century. The artists and paintings continue to be dissected to find more information, meaning and interest. In this essay I will briefly discuss the world at the time, the development of Cubism and the way it questioned reality and abstraction itself.
Cubism is retrospectively defined as the time between 1907-1920 and is split into two sections, which will be discussed in the body of the essay. The two main artists are Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Georges Braque (1882-1963)

At the turn of the century the world was changing more rapidly than had ever before. Technological innovations, theoretical
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The view of the city of Paris previously seen only by hot air balloon was now open to the public thanks to innovative engineering.
Who knew what was around the corner? And more importantly who knew what was right in front of you?
Reality was no longer a solid, unchanging certainty. Cubism questioned that state of flux, and tried to represent it.

In 1912 Braque and Picasso moved into Synthetic Cubism, another retrospective term, where the subject matter was given increasing importance over style. It was in 1912 that Braque created what is generally considered to be the first collage where he added pieces of wallpaper to his work, ‘Still-life with Fruit-dish and Glass’. (See Figure 3, pg. 10) The pieces began to include other materials, sand, wood, linoleum and newspaper, as well as imitations of these materials.
A piece of wood placed next to an imitation of wood grain further questions the issues of reality. When something can be so accurately reproduced which is the real thing?
A piece of imitation-wood grain wallpaper is not more "real" under any definition, or closer to nature, than a painted simulation of it; nor is wallpaper, oilcloth, newspaper or wood more "real," or closer to nature, than paint on canvas. (Greenberg, C. Collage.
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(See figures 5 and 6, pg. 12 and 13) These paintings both reference a stringed instrument, as well as hinting at a human element. In ‘Violin and pitcher (Figure 5) Braque was painting in the analytical style. In ‘Woman with guitar’ (Figure 6) the subject is similar but the style is extremely different. Only 3 years separate these paintings, yet they are vastly different. The colour palettes used are similar, although the later work has a softer feel, both are fragmented, both use oil paint but the later includes other collaged elements. That inclusion adds depth to the meaning and interpretation of the painting while adding layers paradoxically further flattens the visual image. The additions hint at additional information without directly informing the

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