The Cubist movement began around 1907. The Cubist style was developed by both Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. The two artists collaborated closely in the early years of Cubism.
The main characteristic of Cubism involves using small, angular facets to break down and reconstruct form. The desire to analyze form in this way was directly influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne. Picasso and Braque took the following elements from Cézanne’s work:
• The use of multi-perspective
• The portrayal of objects using basic geometric shapes
• Like Cézanne, they also used passage, or intersecting planes:
• To blend and merge objects and space
• To emphasize the 2-dimensionality of the canvas
• Although Cubist images can sometimes be far removed from a recognizable reality, Cubist art is considered abstract and non-objective. This is because, like Cézanne, the artists based their paintings on recognizable objects found in nature.
In fact, the angular, planar shapes found in African masks helped inspire the Cubist facet. Braque's early works reflected the influence of Fauvism-- liberating color from traditional expectations that it be used to describe nature. Braque was interested in inventing new approaches to describing 3- dimensional objects on a 2-dimensional surface. His work is characterized by a more intellectual analysis of form. The early phase of Cubism is known as Analytic Cubism because Braque used this Cubist technique to analyze form.
In his work from this period the artists used:
• Small, angular facets to break down and describe form
• Multi-perspective to analyze form from every possible angle
• Muted color that does not distract from the analysis of the form itself
In Braque’s The Portuguese, 1911, the subject is a Portuguese musician with a guitar, but it is very difficult to see.
Braque used Cubist facets to break down form and explore the interaction between the figure and space. The monochrome, brown tones allow the viewer to focus on this analysis of form.
Robert Delaunay began as a Cubist painter and exhibited with the Cubists. However, the Delaunay was less interested in Cubism as a way to analyze form and more interested in using a Cubist technique to capture the energy of modern life. He combined overlapping, Cubist inspired shapes with an energetic sense of movement and vivid color.
The vivid use of color in his work was influenced by the use of color contrasts in the work of the Pointillists such as Georges Seurat and by some of the same color theorists that influenced the Pointillists. He was particularly interested in the theory of simultaneity. Simultaneity is the idea that when two complementary colors are experienced simultaneously it increases their luminosity and visual intensity.
The Delaunay also thought of the simultaneity of his vivid color contrasts as a way to express the energy of modern life, where so many different sights and sounds are experienced simultaneously. While the Delaunays used the term "simultaneity" to describe their approach, Orphism is the name usually used to categorize their work.
The key characteristics of Orphism include:
• A vivid use of color contrasts
• Intersecting and overlapping geometric shapes
• A dynamic suggestion of movement and energy
• An emphasis on undulating circular shapes as opposed to the predominately angular Cubist facets