Cubism is a school and aesthetic theory of plastic arts and design. It is characterized by the use of geometric shapes, such as cubes, triangles and rectangles.

The movement was born in France and had its heyday between 1907 and 1914. The term cubism comes from the French word cubisme, which was proposed by the critic Louis Vauxcelles. This specialist referred to the cubes that appeared in the paintings of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris and Georges Braque, among other exponents of Cubism.

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Other European avant-garde movements developed from this aesthetic school and revolutionized the artistic panorama of the 20th century. However, cubism is considered a pioneering avant-garde as it was responsible for breaking with perspective, the last Renaissance principle that was still in force at the beginning of the century.

Cubism highlights the use of geometric shapes.

Characteristics of cubism

The cubists sought to break down natural forms and present them through geometric figures that fragmented surfaces and lines. This multiple perspective allowed, for example, to reflect a face both from the front and from the side, both at the same time.

Another characteristic of Cubism is the use of muted colors such as green and gray, especially in the early days of the movement. Over time, the cubists began to incorporate more vivid colors.

Beyond painting

It should be noted that, beyond painting, Cubism reached literature. Calligrams combine poetry with drawings, by organizing the text in a particular way. The French poet Guillaume Apollinaire was one of the main creators of calligram.

Among other fundamental names of the movement we can mention Juan Gris, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes and Fernand Leger.

Pablo Picasso, author of Guernica, is one of the referents of Cubism.

Different phases of cubism

As a starting point for the movement we can point to “The young ladies of Avignon” by Pablo Picasso, in 1907. Since then, cubism raised a new form of art ; where form, perspective, movement and space were protagonists but were understood in an aesthetic way very different from what was known until then. It was a mental art, that is to say that it is detached from the interpretation or resemblance to nature.

It is important to note that this was the first avant-garde to appear in graphic art, which was flatly opposed to the booming movement of the time, the Renaissance, where perspective was given fundamental importance. In cubism, this disappeared and fragmented into lines and surfaces; this new way of understanding perspective was called multiple perspective. There is no longer a single point of view, nor is there a sense of depth or detail.

In this movement there are two well-differentiated phases :

* Analytical Cubism : It is also known as pure cubism and is the most complex to understand. It is based on the decomposition of shapes and geometric figures to analyze and rearrange them in a different and decomposed way.

* Synthetic Cubism : it followed the previous current and was based on the recomposition of objects, that is, no longer in the detailed analysis of their forms, but in capturing the essence of their physiognomy. These artists highlighted the most significant parts of the figure through predominant colors and shapes. At this stage, the collage technique and the use of elements from everyday life emerged, allowing a global image to be offered, offering a specific reference.

The irruption of photography

Finally, it should be added that the appearance of photography on stage was essential for the absolute liberation of graphic art.

By representing reality itself more accurately than painting, it allowed it to become more abstract, by taking away the weight of having to represent things as they appear in reality in order to transcribe them.