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Cubism: The Art of Pablo Picasso

Updated on August 18, 2015
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. | Source

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. | Source
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Málaga, Spain:

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Málaga, Spain was the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.

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.

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Carrer d'Avinyó, Barcelona, Spain:

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Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon depicts five prostitutes from a brothel on Avinyó Street in Barcelona, Spain.

Pablo Picasso's Proto-Cubist / African Period Paintings

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon / The Young Ladies of Avignon — originally called The Brothel of Avignon (1907)Paysage aux deux figures / Landscape with Two Figures (1908)Dryad (1908)Tête de femme / Head of a Woman (1909)
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon / The Young Ladies of Avignon — originally called The Brothel of Avignon (1907)
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon / The Young Ladies of Avignon — originally called The Brothel of Avignon (1907) | Source
Paysage aux deux figures / Landscape with Two Figures (1908)
Paysage aux deux figures / Landscape with Two Figures (1908) | Source
Dryad (1908)
Dryad (1908) | Source
Tête de femme / Head of a Woman (1909)
Tête de femme / Head of a Woman (1909) | Source

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.

Pablo Picasso's Cubist Paintings

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Figure dans un Fauteuil  / Seated Nude  / Femme nue assise (1909-1910)La Femme au pot de moutarde / Woman with Mustard Pot (1910)Girl with a Mandolin [Fanny Tellier] (1910)Violon / Violin (1911-1912)
Figure dans un Fauteuil  / Seated Nude  / Femme nue assise (1909-1910)
Figure dans un Fauteuil / Seated Nude / Femme nue assise (1909-1910) | Source
La Femme au pot de moutarde / Woman with Mustard Pot (1910)
La Femme au pot de moutarde / Woman with Mustard Pot (1910) | Source
Girl with a Mandolin [Fanny Tellier] (1910)
Girl with a Mandolin [Fanny Tellier] (1910) | Source
Violon / Violin (1911-1912)
Violon / Violin (1911-1912) | Source

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. | Source

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.

Examples of Analytic Cubism

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Still Life with a Bottle of Rum (1911).L'Homme à la clarinette | Man with a Clarinet (1911-1912)L'homme à la mandoline |The Mandolin Player (1911-1912)
Still Life with a Bottle of Rum (1911)
Still Life with a Bottle of Rum (1911) | Source
.L'Homme à la clarinette | Man with a Clarinet (1911-1912)
.L'Homme à la clarinette | Man with a Clarinet (1911-1912) | Source
L'homme à la mandoline |The Mandolin Player (1911-1912)
L'homme à la mandoline |The Mandolin Player (1911-1912) | Source

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.

Examples of Synthetic Cubism

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Collage: Tête | Head (1913-1914) — cut and pasted colored paper, gouache, and charcoal on paperboardCollage: Compotier avec fruits, violon et verre | Fruit Bowl with Fruit, Violin, and GlassPainting: Bouteille, clarinette, violon, journal, verre | Bottle, Clarinet, Violin, Newspaper, Glass (1913)Painting: L'anis del mono |Bottle of Anis del Mono (1916)
Collage: Tête | Head (1913-1914) — cut and pasted colored paper, gouache, and charcoal on paperboard
Collage: Tête | Head (1913-1914) — cut and pasted colored paper, gouache, and charcoal on paperboard | Source
Collage: Compotier avec fruits, violon et verre | Fruit Bowl with Fruit, Violin, and Glass
Collage: Compotier avec fruits, violon et verre | Fruit Bowl with Fruit, Violin, and Glass | Source
Painting: Bouteille, clarinette, violon, journal, verre | Bottle, Clarinet, Violin, Newspaper, Glass (1913)
Painting: Bouteille, clarinette, violon, journal, verre | Bottle, Clarinet, Violin, Newspaper, Glass (1913) | Source
Painting: L'anis del mono |Bottle of Anis del Mono (1916)
Painting: L'anis del mono |Bottle of Anis del Mono (1916) | Source

Have you ever created a collage?

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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. | Source

Have you ever created a piece of sculpture?

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Comments

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    • Daisy Mariposa profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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 profile image

      David Paul Wagner 

      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      4 years ago

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Dianna (teaches12345),

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

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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 profile image

      torrilynn 

      4 years ago

      You are more than welcome and I hope not !

    • Daisy Mariposa profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Torri Lynn,

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

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 

      4 years ago from Georgia country

      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 profile image

      torrilynn 

      4 years ago

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

    • Daisy Mariposa profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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 profile image

      torrilynn 

      4 years ago

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

    • Daisy Mariposa profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Linda (Sunshine625),

      Thanks for stopping by again. That's great!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I'll do that! :)

    • Daisy Mariposa profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      4 years ago from Orlando, FL

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

    • Daisy Mariposa profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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 profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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 profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      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

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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.

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 

      4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Daisy Mariposa 

      4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      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.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

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

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