What Is Cubism? (A Simple Definition of the Cubism Art Movement Invented by Pablo Picasso & Georges Braque)

In 1907, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque developed Cubism in Paris, France.

Influenced by African, Native American, Assyrian, and Egyptian cultures, and the work of Paul Cézanne, cubism was a style of painting that Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque invented in which objects are broken up, analyzed, and reassembled in an abstract form.

The initial phase of Cubism, called Analytical Cubism, was characterized by the reduction of forms to their geometrical essentials: cubes, spheres, cylinders, and cones.

In the second phase of Cubism, Synthetic Cubism, color, and different textures were added.

The term “Cubism” was first used in 1911 by art critic Louis Vauxcelles to describe Braque’s work “Houses at L’Estaque (1908)” (Society6) and Picasso’s “Girl with a Mandolin (1910)” (Society6). Vauxcelles referred to their art as “bizarreries cubiques” (cubic oddities).

Although it was initially met with criticism, cubism soon became one of the most important movements in modern art.

In fact, Cubism has been considered the most influential art movement of the 20th century. It revolutionized European painting and sculpture and inspired related movements in music, literature, and architecture.

Cubism also continues to influence artists today. For example, cubist wall art is widely in-demand and sold on popular sites like Redbubble.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, born in Spain in 1881, is one of the most famous and influential artists of the 20th century.

He is best known for his contributions to the avant-garde art movement known as cubism. (Avant-garde = unusual, experimental, innovative art that pushes boundaries.)

After moving to Paris in 1904, Picasso began experimenting with different styles of painting. It was during this time that he developed cubism.

Georges Braque

Along with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque (born in France in 1882) is one of the most important figures in the development of cubism. He was a major collaborator with Pablo Picasso, and together they helped to redefine what art could be.

‎Proto-Cubism (1907-1908)

Cubism was developed through Picasso and Braque’s experimentation with rendering three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface. By breaking down an image into its component parts and reassembling those parts into an abstract whole, they created a totally new way of seeing the world around them.

While other artists had experimented with similar techniques before, Braque and Picasso were the first to systematically explore the potential of this approach.

Their work laid the foundation for what would become known as Proto-Cubism; a period of transition between traditional representational art and the more abstract Cubism that would follow.

If you look at one of the first Cubist paintings by Picasso, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (The Young Ladies of Avignon), you’ll see that it is different from his later cubist artwork in several ways:

  • The painting is much more realistic and sexually suggestive than his later work.
  • The colors in the painting are more muted.
  • The composition, subject matter, style, and brushwork in the painting are more traditional.
  • Finally, the overall tone of the painting is more serious than in his later work.

Crystal Cubism (1914–1918)

Crystal Cubism represents a major shift in Picasso’s style; his earlier work was characterized by its organic forms and soft, curving lines. In contrast, the work he produced during the Crystal Cubist period is much more angular and fragmented, using geometric shapes and clean, straight lines.

The Influence of Cubism (Czech Cubism)

Cubism was characterized by its use of geometric shapes and abstract forms. This new way of thinking about art paved the way for many others, including architects.

For example, before the rise of cubism, architecture was all about ornate decoration and grandiose designs. But after cubism emerged in the early 1900s, things began to change.

This new art movement favored simple geometric shapes and stark contrasts, and it quickly began to influence the world of architecture.

In Czechoslovakia, for example, cubist elements can be seen in many of the country’s buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. These include the National Library in Prague and the Municipal House in Brno.

What Are the Characteristics of Cubism in Art?

If you’re looking at a cubist painting, you’ll likely see something that looks very different from anything else you’ve ever seen before.

Cubist artists were some of the first to break away from traditional ways of representing reality in their artwork and instead created abstract, geometric images.

They would break down an object into its basic shapes and then reconstruct it on the canvas. This is why Cubism paintings often look like they are made up of geometric shapes. For example, a painting of a person might show the person’s face from the front, side, and back all at once. This can make the painting look very abstract.

At times, Cubists also used collage techniques to create their artwork.

However, there are still some differences in style among Cubist painters. For example, Picasso was known for his use of bright colors and bold patterns while Braque often used muted colors and soft lines in his paintings.

What Is the Main Idea of Cubism?

Cubism was a reaction to the traditional ways of painting, which the artists felt were no longer relevant. They wanted to create something new that would reflect the modern world.

The main idea behind Cubism was that objects could be represented from multiple perspectives simultaneously. This was a radical departure from traditional art movements, which typically only showed objects from one perspective.

Overview: What Kind of Art Was Cubism?

In a nutshell, Cubism was an art movement that began in the early 1900s. It was started by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who were both painters. The term “cubism” comes from the French word for cube, which is cubique.

Cubism was a revolutionary way of painting that abandoned traditional techniques and perspectives. Instead of painting things as they appeared to the eye, Picasso and Braque began to paint objects from different angles, breaking them up into geometric shapes. This gave their paintings a new sense of depth and space.

Cubism had a major influence on the development of abstract art in the 20th century. Cubism had a major impact on the arts, both in Europe and America. It influenced subsequent art movements, such as Abstract, Expressionism, and Pop Art.

It also influenced other areas of art, such as sculpture, architecture, and design.

To learn more about Cubism, check out the video below:

Cubism in 9 Minutes: Art Movement by Pablo Picasso Explained | Curious Muse