What does Cubism mean?

What is cubism?

Cubism is an avant-garde European artistic movement , which emerged in France at the beginning of the 20th century and is characterized by the use of geometric shapes to portray nature.

Cubism was founded in Paris through the renowned Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) and the French artist Georges Braque (1882 – 1963) .

Picasso’s 1907 painting “ Les Demoiselles d’Avignon ” is considered the starting point of this innovative movement.



In general, the cubist movement is characterized by the representation of figures from nature through the use of geometric shapes , promoting the fragmentation and decomposition of plans and perspectives.
The cubist artist is no longer committed to using the real appearance of things, as was the case during the Renaissance .

Cubist art is considered a ” mental art “, where each aspect of the work must be analyzed and studied individually.

Cubes, cylinders, and spheres are some of the usual shapes in Cubism , distinguished from abstract art by the concrete use of all shapes.

What does Abstract Art mean?

In addition to Picasso and Braque, other artists who were immortalized as icons of this avant-garde are Juan Gris (1887 – 1927) and Fernand Léger (1881 – 1955).

Stages of Cubism

The Cubist movement was marked by three phases: Cézannian Cubism (1907-1909), Analytical Cubism (1910-1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1913-1914).

Cézannian Cubism

Also known as “ pre-analytical ”, it is considered the initial phase of the Cubist movement (1907 – 1909), where the main base was the work of Cézanne , with a strong influence of African art and the use of simplified forms.

The works of Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906) served as inspiration for the consolidation of Cubism .
Although they did not yet have all the characteristics that define the artistic movement , some concepts adopted by Cézanne in his works were essential for Picasso and other artists to build the Cubist style.

Analytical Cubism

It is considered as ” pure cubism ” and difficult to interpret, where the figures are broken down through the use of various geometric shapes.

Strongly influenced by African art , works in this period permeate monochromatic hues, predominantly green, brown, and gray. In addition, there is also a need to express nature in a simplified way , with straight and uniform lines.

Synthetic Cubism

The great feature of this phase was the introduction of the collage technique to reconstruct the images that had once been decomposed. Therefore, this period is also known as ” collage cubism “.

Unlike the analytical one , at this stage the images begin to maintain their physiognomy , but in a reduced way, presenting only what is essential for their recognition.

The main precursor of synthetic cubism was Juan Gris (1887 – 1927), who also began to use a more vivid and intense color palette in his works.

Characteristics of Cubism

Some of the main features include:

  • Use of geometric shapes and volumes;
  • Decomposition of images into geometric shapes;
  • Reconstruction of images through the use of collages;
  • Give up the use of perspectives, especially three-dimensional perspectives;
  • Closed colors (predominance of white, black, gray, brown and ocher);
  • Sculptural painting .

Literary Cubist Movement

The cubist avant-garde also reached other artistic branches, such as literature.

In this case, the literary cubist movement focused on the idea of ​​the “ destruction ” of syntax. The verses were fragmented and discontinuous, that is, there is no linearity in the narrated story.

One of the main names of this literary movement was the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880 – 1918).

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