Rethinking Picasso





Rethinking Picasso

Cubism as a style in painting transformed the global perception of art in a massive way. It was one of the most prominent and groundbreaking movements in fine arts. Promoted by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, cubism splintered visual realities in a wanton, opulent, and striking way with their new style. They furnished what could almost be considered a supernatural perspective of reality. The Cubist movement in painting was strengthened by Picasso in the late 18th century 1907 after which it became highly influential in Western art. The basic concept behind cubism is that an artist splits the subjects that are being painted into several different facets, displaying diverse aspects of one object concurrently. The style originally started out as analytical cubism that focused on geometrical shapes using restrained hues after which it graduated into synthetic cubism that was more aggressive and contained aspects of decorations, stenciling and vivid colors. This essay is concerned with the analysis of articles written by academics and scholars on cubism and its application as a style of painting.

Revising Cubism by Patricia Leighten

In her article entitled Revising Cubism, Patricia Leighten addressed the historical background of Cubism including the earliest concerns over the use of color, form, and line. Leighton also discussed the contribution of different authors concerning cubism in its wider political, economic, and artistic context. From her analysis, she concluded that there were several overlapping concerns that have been ignored by many scholars. Rather than creating new definitions to substitute, the old ones, Leighton sought to take a path that build the understanding of formal subjects (Leighten 21). She also sought to use new contributions by researchers to present a different way of thinking about knowledge, history, as well as new perspectives on cubism. In general, most of the works in the issue of articles within Art Journal adopted a new historical light and sought to offer research on previously ignored and unobserved aspects of cubism and cubist artists. Some of the articles concentrated on the interweaving between Cubism and different ideologies, scientific enthusiasms and market forces (Leighten 45). These conscious and unconscious omissions form the fundamental arguments of her paper. The analysis of this paper will include a short summary, personal opinions, conclusions, and recommendations.

Cubism involves innovative ways of examining art and representing daily items such as the human body and other ordinary objects, in addition to transient subjects such as motion. To portray the universe in a fresh way, artists came up with creative technical approaches in collage, sculpture, and painting. Most of the artists in this analysis were guided by world events as well as stimulating technological innovations. While some of the influences were negative and positive, these changes significantly transformed the lives of normal people.

It is essential to emphasize that Picasso’s unrelenting interest in Pompeian styles was not only artistic but also part of a theoretical, mythical, and spiritual undertaking motivated by the different interests such as Aristotelian notions and esotericism of his close acquaintances. Leighton examines the influence that historical and modern religions and events had on Picasso’s works particularly those having cubism as the main style. The discoveries released provide the likelihood of constructing a global reconsideration of Picasso’s work including new interpretative approaches (Leighten 18).

            In a span of forty years, western society was home to massive technological progress than all the other regions collectively. During this era, innovations such as photography, the airplane, sound recording, motor vehicles and cinematography heralded the start of a new period. The difficulty for artists during this area was discovering the best way to convey the modernity of the period using the tried and tested techniques that had been applied by artists over the years. Indeed, Leighton noted that capturing modern events was difficult feat to achieve using only paint and canvas. Photography was only starting to substitute painting as the preferred medium for capturing the age. Meanwhile, artists such as Picasso, Cézanne, and Braque were merely vast transport networks, infrastructure, and technology: an approach that failed to rise to the challenge. Because of these complications, Leighton proposed that artists required a more drastic approacha ‘new perspective of sight’ that stretched the artistic opportunities in a similar manner to technology and its limitless borders of travel and communication. This new approach of perception was called Cubism (Leighten 37).

In her paper, Leighton managed to cover the key elements of the cubism style as well as its application on paintings. This is highly important in any fine art analysis especially one that combines several themes and inspirations. She also addressed the restrictions of perspective that greatly limit the progress made by the Cubists. This is because paintings done in perspective could only be effective from one point of view and this restricted the artists’ creativity. Cubists had the vision of creating paintings that defied the inflexible geometry of perspective since images were drawn from a fixed location making it seem like a picture. According to Leighton’s analysis, artists needed to introduce the concept of relativity. This section of analysis was done in a detailed manner that highlighted the major problems as well as the history behind the formation of cubism style. Having the historical background analyzed by a professional offered the rationale for modernism in fine art (Leighten 27). Explaining each of the stages in the development of cubism was informative in the study of the origin of the style. Leighton also used several historically accurate examples from famous artists who used cubism in their works. Using such types of examples provided validity to the research, as readers are able to confirm the exact proponents of the style and refer to the examples in future.

Abbreviated Histography of Cubism by Daniel Robbin

            In his paper entitled Abbreviated Histography of Cubism, Daniel Robbin analyses the partisan, biased, and intentional neglecting of certain areas of fine art including cubism. Daniel Robbin focused on the process of displacement of cubism as a valid movement by others such as Surrealism, Dadaism, and Purism. With the cubism movement completely dead, Robbin felt it was time for the resurrection to commence. Guillaume Jannueau was cited quoting that all the arguments about cubism were being done over ‘a tomb’ also echoed the need for a resurrection.

Robbin delved into the historical events and landmarks that marked the end of cubism in a way that created a strong picture of the artistic background in Europe and the rest of the rest of the western world. The author collected information from the earliest pre-Cubist artists such as Metzinger, Delaunay, and Fauconnier whom he blamed for being responsible for killing Cubism by applying a new style of painting that consisted of mathematical doctrines created by Einstein, Lobatchewsky and Bergson. By digging back into the past, the author sought to research into the main players and the events that orchestrated the demise of Cubism. Having a strong background of historically accurate evidence is important within an article as it offers validity to the paper. Model sources for such a paper includes literature analyses published in trustworthy historical journals, academic and professional manuscripts authored by experts in the field of fine arts. Conversely, the author was careful to avoid primary sources that are difficult to use in such content. Processing published material that promotes a position is a type of innovative research that should be avoided in such articles that are not a platform where further research can be done easily. Disagreements or areas of indecision in fine arts should be accompanied with trustworthy secondary sources elaborating the unreliable perspectives. All these citation and reference styles were observed precisely making it a very accurate paper academic wise.

Einstein’s nonexistence is most informative in the writing on cubism, an art on which he wrote industriously and for which he gained high popularity. Einstein contributed significantly to cubism in his manuscript titled Die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. This was an important contribution towards cubism yet it is seldom mentioned by many authors within the field despite the second and third editions being released in 1928 and 1931. However, this trend is not the same for other manuscripts such as The Rise of Cubism by Kahnweiler that have received enormous attention and debate. Again, Daniel Robbin managed to use historically accurate information to reinforce his arguments on the erosion of the cubism movement.

Daniel Robbin was also useful in presenting a different approach towards tackling analyses that involved artists and their perceptions on cubism. His approach involved identifying the flaws in works presented by artists. His article involved identifying the particulars and methodology in Janneau’s work, L’Art Cubiste. He noted that all these artists except Janneau preferred Cubism in its inert state. However, I noted that Daniel Robbin was particularly focused on Janneau’s contributions, or lack thereof, in cubism. Almost all of his arguments used this author as their main reference. At one point, Daniel Robbin analyzed the various faults in Janneau’s book in a manner that in the end, it was evident that his article was somewhat biased as it only took one perspective in consideration.

From a nonprofessional’s perspective, Daniel Robbbin’s analysis was very complex and difficult to understand. His arguments were made up of analyses from different authors interwoven along common lines such as cubism, fine art, and history. Combining several themes and authors into one paper was a very poor decision as it jumbled all the points into a short paper. On reading it, one gains the perception that the author could have taken more time to organize his thoughts into a more sensible manner. In this way, he would have avoided the problem of concentrating on Janneau’s preferences and instead focused on addressing his contribution towards cubism. The introduction of the paper was somewhat more organized than the rest of the paper, which in my opinion, spiraled into worse organization, flow, and thoroughness. The problem with Daniel Robbin’s analysis is that his topic, the development of cubism, was progressing at a rapid pace such that his analysis failed to capture all the necessary elements in his paper. Between six decades, cubism evolved from analytical to orphic and in his paper, it appeared as a disorderly presentation of ideas.


The three papers sought to address the unaddressed factors within cubism as a technique in fine art. While as a whole, art has been tackled by numerous scholars in detail, cubism as a field has been largely neglected. This belittles the vast historical, economic, and technological background that formed the solid base upon which cubism as a style came into existence. The authors in the three papers managed to exhaust all the topics in an organized manner. Covering works of art such as paintings is quite difficult even for skilled scholars. Therefore, the joint effort of several authors served to reinforce the arguments on the erosion of cubism.

From the papers analyzed in this essay, it is clear that the authors allocated a lot of prominence and priority to works created by Picasso and Braque. However, this created a major flaw in the structure and understanding of cubism as a movement. From the papers, it seemed that these two proponents, regardless of their contribution, were the only people responsible for the movement. In reality, cubism would have still developed and spread across Europe without the contribution of these two artists. Cubism is involved with invention as well as achieving a conceptual view instead of a perceptual view of art. Furthermore, given that Cubist art constantly stressed the coordinating duty of the artist’s resolve, the declaration of the independence is accompanied by a matching prominence on the level of influence exerted by the creator. The type of Cubism created by Gris, Braque, and Picasso possessed more than a simply methodological or official significance, and the regularly distinct approaches and purposes of the other Cubists resulted in quite similar versions of Cubism. While it impossible to confirm to what degree these other Cubists relied on Braque and Picasso for their expansion of such methods as multiple perspective and faceting, they could have similarly arrived at the same conclusion with the help of teachings from Cézanne. Consequently, the paper misdirected the larger part of the readers by focusing on these two as the main contributors. Future corrections should include other contributors as well as detailed events that took place within the same era.

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Politics and Ideology in Picasso’s Collages of 1912 by David CottingtonBottom of Form

David Cottington discussed the influential move by Picasso in 1912 that contributed greatly in the death of Cubism as well as the creation of more futuristic styles. The article documented Picasso’s social and professional change that took place in Montmartre. From extreme cubism, Picasso moved towards experimenting with paper collages that used newspapers, fast food wrappers and other modern items. However, the paper also provided several arguments challenging the validity of these allegations. In conclusion, the paper allowed readers to get a glimpse into link between cubism and the real world as well as its transition. The role of the collage in influencing modern art after the death of Cubism was also addressed by Rosalind Krauss and Francoise Will-Levaillant.

The article was presented in an organized and precise manner that managed to capture all the key elements of the argument. The author used a basic structure that involved presenting the abstract followed by an analysis that was separated into relevant sub topics. Lastly, the paper was concluded in a fashion that captured the whole paper. The paper made proper use of academic sources such as articles and journals. These sources were collected from a wide range of databases such as EbscoHost and Wiley Journal that have been certified as valid sources. Furthermore, they were also applied in the text in the right formats and structures. Overall, this application of correct and appropriate academic sources to cite the evidence avoided any cases of plagiarism and wrongful responsibility of academic material. It also provided the paper with a professional look that made it seem very valid (Cottington 128).












Work Cited:

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Leighten, Patricia D. Revising Cubism. New York, N.Y: College Art Association of America, 1988. Print.

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Cottington, David. “What the Papers Say: Politics and Ideology in Picasso’s Collages of 1912.” Art Journal. 47.4 (1988): 350-359. Print.


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