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Cubism: The Art of Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso's Three Musicians (1921) — Publication of this low-resolution image is permissible under the Fair Use rule due to the historical significance of the painting.

Pablo Picasso's Three Musicians (1921) — Publication of this low-resolution image is permissible under the Fair Use rule due to the historical significance of the painting.

Who was Pablo Picasso?

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso—known as Pablo Picasso—was born in Málaga, Spain on October 25, 1881. A ceramist, painter, printmaker, sculptor, and stage designer, Picasso was known for co-inventing the style of art known as collage, inventing constructed sculpture, and co-founding the Cubist movement.

Picasso's life will be discussed in another article. This article is concerned with the very important Cubist art movement with which Picasso was associated.

Rare Portrait of Pablo Picasso

This rare photograph of Pablo Picasso (1908-1909) was taken by an anonymous photographer.

This rare photograph of Pablo Picasso (1908-1909) was taken by an anonymous photographer.

What is Proto-Cubism?

In the period between 1904 and 1910, many artists were experimenting—using new colors, developing new styles, trying new methods of applying paint to canvas, looking for new subjects for their creations. By 1906, 24-year-old Pablo Picasso was already an established artist, earning money from the sales of his paintings. He developed an interest in African art and incorporated elements of it in his paintings and sculptures.

Picasso, as well as Georges Braque and several others, threw away perspective in their work. They added shapes to their paintings—cylinders and cubes—and they used a limited color palette. These works, especially those painted between 1907 and 1909, became known as Proto- or Early-Cubism.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon / The Young Ladies of Avignon

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon / The Young Ladies of Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937) are Pablo Picasso's most well-known paintings. I have seen both paintings in museums in New York City.

Picasso began working on Les Demoiselles d'Avignon in secret in 1906. He wouldn't tell any of his colleagues what his current project was. He produced a few hundred sketches and rough drafts before he began painting the final version of the work in Paris, France in the summer of 1907.

The painting was very controversial. Many of Picasso's fellow artists and other people in the art world greatly disliked the painting. They didn't like the geometrical shapes, the flat two-dimensional aspect, and the fact that the two women on the right appeared to be wearing African tribal masks.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was a radical departure from the work which proceeded it, especially the Impressionist paintings of the late 19th century. It was later called one of the first paintings in the modern art genre.

When did Cubism begin?

Art historians are unclear as to when the avant-garde art movement (style of painting) known as Cubism began. Proto-Cubism is generally considered to be the period from 1904 to 1910, yet several experts in the art history field have stated that Cubism began between 1907 and 1911. I personally don't think this overlapping of dates matters very much.

Horta de Ebro, Spain | Houses on the Hill (1909)

Pablo Picasso spent the summer of 1909 in the village of Horta de Ebro, Spain. The countryside was austere, and did not lend itself to traditional landscape painting. Influenced by what he observed, Picasso painted Houses on the Hill, his first completely Cubist painting, in 1909.

Houses on the Hill (1909) is Pablo Picasso's first completely Cubist painting.

Houses on the Hill (1909) is Pablo Picasso's first completely Cubist painting.

Analytic Cubism (1909-1912)

The creation of the style of painting known as Analytic Cubism is credited to both Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The artists analyzed what they saw, took the objects apart visually, and created their paintings using neutral colors, primarily browns, tans. and greys.

When I was studying Fine Arts in college, I heard a great explanation for helping one understand the concept of Analytic Cubism: Think of how a wine bottle looks—it has a cylindrical shape, and it has a bottom, and a cork at the top. All three components of the wine bottle exist at the same time, so...include all three components in your painting.

Synthetic Cubism (1912-1921)

Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque developed the art form know as Synthetic Cubism. They pasted torn pieces of newspapers, sheet music, wallpaper, and other interesting bits of paper onto their paintings, thus creating the first fine art collages.

Picasso's Three Musicians (1921) showcased at the beginning of this article is an example of what I like to call "synthetic Synthetic Cubism." The painting look like a collage, like a combination of oil paint and torn pieces of paper, but it is not. This work, one of my favorites of Picasso's creations, is a painting. It is not a collage.

Constructed Sculpture

Pable Picasso created this Woman’s Head constructed sculpture in 1909. Rather than "taking away" as in traditional sculpture, Picasso "added to" the piece.

Pable Picasso created this Woman’s Head constructed sculpture in 1909. Rather than "taking away" as in traditional sculpture, Picasso "added to" the piece.

Art History Articles by the Author

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Comments

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on October 06, 2015:

Charito,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I'm glad I was able to include the photo of Picasso in my Hub.

Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on October 05, 2015:

Interesting hub, Ms. Daisy. Thanks for sharing with us the kinds of cubism.

From the photo, Picasso was good-looking in his younger years.

I guess I can't blame those who were scandalized by "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon". Even today, not too many people appreciate nude art even in abstract form.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on February 16, 2014:

David,

It's nice to meet you. Thank you for reading my article and posting your comment.

The only suitable place for images of paintings created by artists who have died within the past 70 years is in stamp albums. The images cannot be scanned and used as illustrations in Hubs.

David Paul Wagner from Sydney, Australia on February 16, 2014:

Thank you for this fascinating hub on the different phases of Cubism.

Regarding your comment on finding legally-attributable images of paintings of artists who have passed away relatively recently, I look for postage stamps that have reproduced those artists' paintings. What do you think of this strategy?

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on January 01, 2014:

Glimmer,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Thanks, too, for your New Year's wishes. Have a wonderful, creative year.

I hadn't thought about geometry and cubism coupled with quilting. You brought up an interesting point. I can see how the Cubist works of Picasso and Georges Braque would appeal to you.

Claudia Mitchell on December 31, 2013:

Cubism has always fascinated me, probably because I am a quilter and I like the geometric aspects of it. Really well done and in depth hub Daisy. Happy New Year to you.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 30, 2013:

Dianna (teaches12345),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I appreciate your sharing your teaching anecdote with us.

Dianna Mendez on November 29, 2013:

I use Picasso's paintings to help English students write essays on aesthetics. I learned new facts about him from your post. Thanks for covering this famous artist.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 29, 2013:

Janet,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I appreciate your very kind words.

I try to write interesting and informative Hubs without pushing the "education part" at my readers. I personal enjoy reading Hubs from which I learn something new.

torrilynn on November 29, 2013:

You are more than welcome and I hope not !

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 29, 2013:

Torri Lynn,

Thanks for visiting again. Let's hope you won't have any Internet access problems in the future.

Janet Giessl from Georgia country on November 29, 2013:

Wow, this is a fascinating hub about Picasso and his Cubism. I could learn so much from this awesome, interesting and well-presented hub. Though I'm not a great Picasso fan I really enjoyed reading this and seeing his work. You found really great images.

torrilynn on November 28, 2013:

You are more than welcome. I haven't been on here due to lack of internet haha.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 28, 2013:

Torri Lynn,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub. I'm glad you learned some new information about Pablo Picasso.

torrilynn on November 28, 2013:

thanks Daisy for the information. I learned more about Picasso than what I already did! voted up and shared.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 28, 2013:

Linda (Sunshine625),

Thanks for stopping by again. That's great!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on November 28, 2013:

I'll do that! :)

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 28, 2013:

Linda (Sunshine625),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. After you've created your Cubist drawing, please send a copy to me. I'd love to see it!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on November 28, 2013:

Cubism art seems very creative and interesting. Excellent hub, it's inspired me to draw something with cubes! One day.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 28, 2013:

Nell,

Thanks for stopping by again. I like the work of Leonardo da Vinci. I also like the work of Rembrandt van Rijn.

Nell Rose from England on November 28, 2013:

I tend to like the traditional paintings, my favorite of all time is Da Vinci, I am reading a book about him at the moment, and he was so fascinating. Picasso's paintings are amazing in there own way, and yes that name! lol!

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 28, 2013:

Nell,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Picasso was named after several relatives and saints. Imagine when he was in school... I hope his teachers allowed him to shorten his name then.

Not everyone likes Picasso's Cubist paintings. Some people prefer the ones from the earlier Rose or Blue Periods. Those paintings have discernible subjects.

Nell Rose from England on November 28, 2013:

My goodness! Now that is one special long, very long, name! lol! Seriously Daisy, that is probably the longest I have ever spent on reading about Picasso or even looking at his paintings. He just does not appeal to me in the slightest, its all a case of taste I suppose, but this was fascinating, and at last I know what Cubism is and how it started, I will actually remember it now as I am useless at remembering who was who and who began what, so to speak! lol! Your hub was great however, and fascinating to read, voted up! nell

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 28, 2013:

Maria (marcoujor),

Thanks for reading my latest article and commenting in it. Thanks, too, for your very kind words.

Pablo Picasso is one of my favorite artists. As I just mentioned in my comment to Nithya, I have wanted to write a Hub about him ever since I began writing art history and museum articles for HubPages. The problem was that he died in 1973, and many of his works will not be in the public domain until 2043.

I found some low resolution images that can be used if the Fair Use doctrine is invoked. This means, in part, that the images have historical significance, and can be included in articles which are written for educational purposes. That's how I was able to include Three Musicians at the beginning of my Hub.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 28, 2013:

Nithya (Vellur),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Thanks, too for sharing my Hub on Facebook.

Pablo Picasso is considered by many art historians to be the most important artist of the 20th century. I've wanted to publish an article about him for quite some time. The problem was that he died in 1973, and many of his works can't be included in articles until 2043. I was happy to discover Picasso's Cubist works were in the public domain, so I decided to concentrate on the Cubism period of his long career.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on November 28, 2013:

Dear Daisy,

I would love to sit in a class where you were teaching art or poetry forms...I imagine myself doing this as I read your work, always learning so much in your enchanting details that draw me into the subject.

Like Bill, I have loved Picasso's work and style but now I feel better informed about cubism. Voted UP and UABI.

Happy, peaceful Thanksgiving to you and yours. Hugs, Maria

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on November 28, 2013:

Great hub, interesting and informative. Pablo Picasso has added a new dimension to the world of art with cubism. Voted up, interesting and informative.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 26, 2013:

Andrew (chef-de-jour),

Thanks for reading my latest article and posting your comment.

I like your phrase regarding painting and art in general having "seismic shifts" around the turn of the 20th century. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon created an uproar when Picasso completed the painting in 1907, yet he was declared the "founder of Cubism" in 1911.

There was a young man who saw Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, and liked the painting so much that he purchased all of Picasso's sketches and rough drafts. He wanted to purchase Les Demoiselles, too, but Picasso rolled up the painting and put it away.

Andrew Spacey from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on November 26, 2013:

I enjoyed this Daisy. I like the way you've neatly captured Picasso's approach to his painting and some of the influences around at the turn of the 20th century, when painting and art in general had seismic shifts. Nice big images too. I wonder, hypothetically, if we took a private picture of an original could we use it in an article? I think not but am unsure.

Votes for Pablo because he broke new ground again and again.

Daisy Mariposa (author) from Orange County (Southern California) on November 26, 2013:

Bill (billybuc),

Thanks for reading my article and bring the first person to comment.

Finding legally-attributable images to use in this Hub was a bit of a challenge. Picasso died in 1973, so many of his paintings can't legally be used in articles until 2043. The only paintings and collages I could showcase were ones created prior to January 1, 1923...plus a few low resolution images permissible under the Fair Use rule.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 26, 2013:

Thank you for the education, Daisy! I have always enjoyed Picasso but knew very little about him. :)