Cubism

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Juan Gris (1887–1927), Guitar and Clarinet, 1920

Cubism is an early-20th-century avant-garde art movement pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, joined by Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Henri Le Fauconnier, Fernand Léger and Juan Gris that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture.

CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links

Quotes[edit]

Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F[edit]

  • What greatly attracted me – and it was the main line of advance of Cubism – was how to give material expression to this new space of which I had an inkling. So I began to paint chiefly still life’s, because in nature there is a tactile, I would almost say a manual space. I wrote about this moreover ‘When a still-life is no longer within reach, it ceases to be a still-life.. ..For me that expressed the desire I have always had to touch a thing, not just to look at it. It was that space that attracted me strongly, for that was the earliest Cubist painting – the quest for space.
    • Georges Braque Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963) (1954), p. 264 : In conversation with Dora Vallier
  • If I have called Cubism a new order, it is without any revolutionary ideas or any reactionary ideas.. ..One cannot escape form one’s own epoch, however revolutionary one may be. I do not think my painting has ever been revolutionary. It was not directed against any kind of painting. I have never wanted to prove that I was right and someone else wrong.. ..If there is a touch of reaction, since life imposes that, it is minute. And then it is so difficult to judge a thing historically, separated from its environment: it is the relationship between a man and what he does that counts. That’s what good and touches us.
    • Georges Braque Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963) (1954), p. 265 : In conversation with Dora Vallier
  • If we had never met Picasso, would Cubism have been what it is? I think not. The meeting with Picasso was a circumstance in our lives.
    • Georges Braque Letters of the Great Artists – From Blake to Pollock (1963) (1954), p. 265 : In conversation with Dora Vallier
  • The Cubists, to be objective, restrict themselves to considering things by turning around them, to produce their geometric writing. So they remain at a stage of intelligence which sees everything and feels nothing, which brings everything to a standstill in order to describe everything. We Futurists are trying, on the contrary, with the power of intuition, to place ourselves at the very centre of things, in such a way that our ego forms with their own uniqueness a single complex. We thus give plastic planes as plastic expansion in space, obtaining this feeling of something in perpetual motion which is peculiar to everything living.
    • Carlo Carrà ‘Piani plastici come espanzione sferica nello spazio’, Carra, March 1913; as quoted in “Futurism”, ed. By Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 146
  • No academy could have given me all I discovered by getting my teeth into the exhibitions, the shop windows, and the museums of Paris. Beginning with the market – where, for lack of money, I bought only a piece of a long cucumber – the workman in his blue overall, the most ardent followers of Cubism, everything showed a definite feeling for proportion, clarity, an accurate sense of form, of a more painterly kind of painting, even in the canvases of second-rate artists.
    • Marc Chagall As quoted in Marc Chagall - the Russian years 1906 – 1922, editor Christoph Vitali, exhibition catalogue, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 1991, p. 29
  • Art is no longer a purely visual experience... it is a work of our intellect triggered by nature... the imagination again become the queen of our strengths and we liberate our sensitivity.
    • Maurice Denis Nouvelles théories sur l’art moderne, sur l’art sacré (New Theories of Modern and Sacred Art. 1922)

G - L[edit]

  • To understand Cézanne is to foresee Cubism. Henceforth we are justified in saying that between this school and previous manifestations there is only a difference of intensity, and that in order to assure ourselves of this we have only to study the methods of this realism, which, departing from the superficial reality of Courbet, plunges with Cézanne into profound reality, growing luminous as it forces the unknowable to retreat.
    • Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Du "Cubisme", Edition Figuière, Paris, 1912 (First English edition: Cubism, T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1913)
  • Unless we are to condemn all modern painting, we must regard cubism as legitimate, for it continues modern methods, and we should see in it the only conception of pictorial art now possible. In other words, at this moment cubism is painting.
  • Cubism is not a manner but an aesthetic, and even a state of mind; it is therefore inevitably connected with every manifestation of contemporary thought. It is possible to invent a technique or a manner independently, but one cannot invent the whole complexity of a state of mind.
    • Juan Gris Response to a questionnaire, from "Chez les cubistes," Bulletin de la Vie Artistique, ed. Félix Fénéon, Guillaume Janneau et al (1925-01-01); trans. Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Juan Gris, His Life and Work (1947)
  • Cubism is an anatomical chart of a way of seeing external objects. But I want to confuse the meaning of the act of looking.
    • Jasper Johns in: Jasper Johns in Tokyo, Yoshiaki Tono, Tokyo August 1964, as quoted in Jasper Johns, Writings, sketchbook Notes, Interviews, ed; Kirk Varnedoe, Moma New York, 1996, p. 104
  • When Jackson talked about painting he didn’t usurp anything that wasn’t himself. He didn’t want to change anything, he wasn’t using any outworn attitude about it, he was always himself. He just wanted to be in it because he loved it. The response in the person’s mind to that mysterious thing that has happened before has nothing to do with ‘who did it first’. Tomlin however, did hear these voices and in reference to his early work and its relation to Braque, I like him for that. He was not an academician of Cubism even then; he was an extremely personal and sensitive artist.
    • Franz Kline Evergreen Review, vol. II, (no 6) autumn 1958, p. 11-15
  • The sentiment of the Cubists was simpler. No space. Everything ought to keep going! That’s probably the reason they went themselves. Either a man was a machine or else a sacrifice to make machines with ... Personally, I do not need a movement. Of all movements, I like Cubism most. It had that wonderful unsure atmosphere of reflection – a poetic frame where something could be possible, where an artist could practice his intuition. It didn’t want to get rid of what went before. Instead it added something to it. The parts that I can appreciate in other movements came out of Cubism... It has force in it but it was no 'force-movement'.
    • Willem de Kooning speech on the symposium, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 5 February, 1951

M - R[edit]

  • The square is not a subconscious form. It is the creation of intuitive reason. The face of the new art. The square is a living, regal infant. The first step of pure creation in art.
    • Kazimir Malevich "From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: The New Realism in Painting" (November 1916)
Du "Cubisme", 1912, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Eugène Figuière Editeurs (cover)
  • Already, a conscious courage is coming to life. Here are some of the painters: Picasso, Braque, Delaunay, Le Fauconnier. . . they are highly enlightened, and do not believe in the stability of any system, even if it were to call itself classical art. . . Their reason is poised between the pursuit of the fleeting and a mania for the eternal.
  • To understand Cézanne is to foresee Cubism. Henceforth we are justified in saying that between this school and previous manifestations there is only a difference of intensity, and that in order to assure ourselves of this we have only to study the methods of this realism, which, departing from the superficial reality of Courbet, plunges with Cézanne into profound reality, growing luminous as it forces the unknowable to retreat.
  • Cubism did not accept the logical consequences of its own discoveries; it was not developing abstraction towards its own goal, the expression of pure reality.
    • Piet Mondrian Abstract Art, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson, London 1990, p. 50
  • Neo-Plasticism has its roots in Cubism. It could just as easy be called the Painting of Real Abstraction. Since the abstract can be expressed by a plastic reality.. ..It achieves what all painting has tried to achieve but has been able to express only in a veiled manner. By their position and their dimension as well as by the importance of given to colour, the coloured planes express in a plastic way only relations and not forms. Neo-Plasticism imparts to these relations an aesthetic balance and thereby expresses universal harmony.. ..For the moment what art had discovered must still be limited to art itself. Our environment cannot yet be realized as a creation of pure harmony. Art today is at the very point formerly occupied by religion. In its deepest meaning art was the transposition of the natural (to another plane); in practice it always sought to achieve harmony between man and untransposed nature. Generally speaking, so do Theosophy and Anthroposophy, although these already possessed the original symbol of balance. And this is why they never were able to achieve equivalent relations, that is to say true harmony. (1921/23)
    • Piet Mondrian Abstract Painting, Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co.,1964, p. 83-85
  • I love to experiment with all styles, and do not have any particular prejudice or bias towards any specific style. These works appear, and they turn out, the way they should. I do not decide in what style I want to paint. I am only experimenting. Even Picasso, when he arrived at Cubism, had already experimented with a lot of other styles.
    • Guity Novin Ayandegan (1973), No 77. Tuesday, June 5th, 1973. p. 4
  • Cubism is no different from any other school of painting. The same principles and the same elements are common to all. The fact that for a long time cubism has not been understood and that even today there are people who cannot see anything in it, means nothing. I do not read English, and an English book is a blank to me. This does not mean that the English language does not exist, and why should I blame anyone but myself if I cannot understand what I know nothing about?
  • Many think that cubism is an art of transition, an experiment which is to bring ulterior results. Those who think that way have not understood it. Cubism is not either a seed or a foetus, but an art dealing primarily with forms, and when a form is realized it is there to live its own life. A mineral substance, having geometric formation, is not made so for transitory purposes, it is to remain what it is and will always have its own form.
  • An art mode, new or old, is for the creative mind essentially a point of beginning. Content is brought into being by the activity through which the artist translates the movement into himself. In such an appropriation, there is no difference between an ongoing movement and one that is finished. During the reign of Minimalism, a painter might realize the new through Impressionism. That art history has a schedule of continuous advances en masse is a fantasy of the historian. The shared syntax of art movements is constantly replaced by the sensibility and practice of individuals. The avant-garde art of yesterday is the only modern equivalent of an aesthetic tradition. The fading of the ideas of a movement does not mean that it can no longer be a stimulus to creation. At the very dawn of a movement, the work of its artists commences to replace the concept; instead of Cubism there appear Picasso, Braque, Gris. Compared to the activities to which they give rise, ideas in art have a brief life. In the last analysis, the vitality of art in our time depends on works produced by movements after they have died.
    • Harold Rosenberg Art on the Edge (1975) "Shall These Bones Live?: Art Movement Ghosts" (p. 230)

S - Z[edit]

  • The intellectual abstraction of the second (analytical, fh) period of Cubism was of great importance, however. By its aspirations to the eternal and its "concept of proportion inspired by the Classics" it revived the sense of craftsmanship concept in many painters. And this perfectly coincided with another of my ambitions – which was to make, with paint, an object having the same perfection of craftsmanship that a cabinet-maker would put into a piece of furniture.
    • Gino Severini, as quoted in Letters of the great artists, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson , London, 1963, p. 248 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • Futurism and Cubism are comparable in importance tot the invention of perspective, for which they substituted a new concept op space. All subsequent movements were latent in them or brought about by them.. ..the two movements cannot be regarded as in opposition to each other, even though they started from opposite points; I maintain (an idea approved by Apollinaire and later by Matisse) that they are two extremes of the same sign, tending to coincide at certain points which only the poetic instinct of the painter can discover: poetry being the content and raison d’être of art.
    • Gino Severini, as quoted in Letters of the great artists, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson , London, 1963, p. 248-249 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • I felt it necessary to evolve entirely new concepts (of form and space and paintings) and postulate them in an instrument that could continue to shake itself free from dialectical perversions. The dominant ones, cubism and expressionism, only reflected the attitudes of power or spiritual debasement of the individual.
    • Clyfford Still, interview with Ti Grace Sharpless, 1963; as quoted in Abstract Expressionism Creators and Critics, edited by Clifford Ross, Abrams Publishers New York 1990, p. 200
  • The Cubists used the figure, but they broke it up..
    • Mark Tobey Abstract Expressionist Painting in America, W.C, Seitz, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1983, p. 58 : In conversation with Seitz
  • There has been 32 isms since the advent of cubism, yet after all there are essentially the same two old strings, the Romantic and the Classical. We’ve just be confused by the storm. Science and psychology have played a great part to say nothing of sex.
    • Mark Tobey The Tigers Eye 1, Mark Tobey, 1952; as quoted in Abstract Expressionist Painting in America, W.C, Seitz, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1983, p. 103

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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