‘Cubism was never anything other than this: painting for paintings sake, while excluding all concepts of unimportant reality’ (Picasso, p11). Cubists always remained faithful to the object.
What struck me on revisiting Cubism was the differences between earlier works of 1907 to 1909 which were based primarily on observation and became known as Analytic Cubist works, and those of the later period up to 1914 that became known as Synthetic Cubist works. These later works came about through the adoption and development of different artistic techniques, most notably ‘paper colle’, the collage that we are so familiar with now. This heralded the beginnings of using appropriated materials, so as early as 1912 Picasso was using found papers, earth, newspaper, wallpaper, imitation wood grain, sawdust and sand in his works. Previously when I’ve considered the idea of making a Cubist style work, my mind turns to the photo- collages made by David Hockney, taking multiple viewpoints and putting them into one work. This I can appreciate now is an example of a Synthetic approach, and in some ways it is quite difficult to take your head to the place that came before this, so I set myself the task of trying to make a Cubist style drawing of an angle-poise lamp from observation alone- using an analytic approach. This I did find quite challenging, but it was interesting to find that I was also drawing on my previous knowledge of the object as well as observation to complete the drawing. This might mirror in some way the intention that a cubist work would require some intellectual input from the viewer in order to decipher the piece.
I then set about making a Synthetic version of the angle poise lamp using photo collage, resulting in quite a different image.
This I then manipulated in Photoshop to get multiple possibilities.
I selected one of these to develop using colouring pencils.
With regard to my thoughts about Landscape for my major project, I tend to think of Cubism being more about ‘an object’, but interested to find that both Picasso and Braque did make Landscapes, particularly in the earlier phase, e.g. ‘The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro’1909 by Picasso.
This video made by the BBC for their ‘Modern Masters’ in art series gives a great overview of Picasso’s life and outlines how cubism fits into it. It also illustrates the impact that Cubism has had in so many other areas of our lives, like fashion, design, architecture and mass culture.
Ref. Gantefuhrer-Trier, Anna (2004). Cubism. Germany:Tashen.