No, I don’t know what this painting represents either, although I do appreciate the image simply on merits of color and form. Fortunately, there are experts who can help decode this and other examples of Cubism as I recently discovered in an exhibit of the Leonard A. Lauder Collection at the Museum of Modern Art. This large personal collection is over 80 paintings, collages, drawings and sculptures – quite mind-boggling that any individual/family can collect such a trove of priceless treasures (and surely not the only collection of this family). Nevertheless, due to the generosity of this gift, we can now all enjoy these works.
One of the many pleasures I derive from “Chasing Dreams” is learning new things – often I am just exploring a deeper understanding of a particular interest du jour – but in the case of art I am pretty much starting from scratch. My parents did take me often to art museums and I did take the required art courses in school, but these just provided very rudimentary fundamentals. I did, as you will, recognize the names of some of the more prominent artists – in this exhibit, for example Pablo Picasso. I also have surface knowledge of the progression of art movements – here is a helpful chart I found that highlights a small section of this development:
Today’s post is about Cubism – developed around 1908-1912 as a collaborative effort between Pablo Picasso and another artist of his time, George Braque. Up to this point the subject of a painting, or picture was fairly recognizable. Cubists rejected the notion that art should just copy nature, and rather than use the traditional techniques such as perspective, they adopted an emphasis of the canvas’ two-dimensions. Instead of realistically portraying the world, Cubists “analyzed” subjects, distilling them down into geometric forms or “cubes.” Interestingly some of their reported influences included Tribal Art and the works of artist Paul Cezanne. Here are a few examples of the Cubists “re-imagining:
The first painting, “The Card Game,” is by a Cubist names Fernand Leger. The other is “The Card Players” by Paul Cezanne.
Here we have Pablo Picasso’s “Woman With a Book,” compared to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s “Interrupted Reading”
Here is Pablo Picasso’s “Head of a Woman” along side an African Tribal Mask. I am taking a bit of license here, as the mask belongs to me – even though Picasso and I never compared notes, the resemblance is still uncanny.
The Cubists also loved to play with motifs that included musical instruments:
Again Pablo Picasso – here he recreated the photo he took on the right with an oil painting entitled, “Pedestal Table, Glasses, Cups, Mandolin”
The Cubists not only painted but also created collages that included “gouache.” This is a new word in my vocabulary – I actually googled it while at the museum – it is a method of painting with opaque watercolors. Here is a collage by Juan Gris (actually short for José Victoriano (Carmelo Carlos) González-Pérez – I can understand why he shortened it). The collage is composed of gouache, crayon, oil, cut and pasted pre-printed wallpaper and newspaper:
One of my favorite pieces on display was the following – my friend thought it was a continuation of the collage motifs thinking that the brown-striated wood sections were pasted on pre-printed paper – but upon investigation it turned out to be strictly oil and charcoal. This fact made me love it even more:
All of the above artworks, however still contain some semblance of recognizable features. The latter Cubist offerings, however went completely off the charts:
“The Absinthe Glass” – painted bronze and perforated tin absinthe spoon by Pablo Picasso
“The Smokers,” Fernand Leger, Oil on canvas
And the painting (oil on canvas) at the top of the page? Can you guess what it is? “The Typographer,” also by Leger. Yeah, I couldn’t see that either.
Who knows where art will lead to next? Maybe there is a budding Picasso in your own family – here’s a collage from one in mine: