Popular aspects of cubism

Popular aspects of cubism

  • Musical instruments.

    BRAQUE Georges (1882 - 1963)

  • Fruit bowl and cards.

    BRAQUE Georges (1882 - 1963)

  • Glass and checkerboard.

    GRAY Juan (1887 - 1927)

  • Bottle and glass.

    LAURENS Jean-Paul (1838 - 1921)

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Title: Musical instruments.

Author : BRAQUE Georges (1882 - 1963)

Creation date : 1908

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 50.2 - Width 61

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: National Museum of Modern Art - Center Pompidou website

Contact copyright: © ADAGP, © Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Philippe Migeat

Picture reference: 05-513926 / AM2004-464

Musical instruments.

© ADAGP, Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Philippe Migeat

To close

Title: Fruit bowl and cards.

Author : BRAQUE Georges (1882 - 1963)

Creation date : 1913

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 81 - Width 60

Technique and other indications: Pencil, charcoal, oil on canvas.

Storage location: National Museum of Modern Art - Center Pompidou website

Contact copyright: © ADAGP, © Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - © All rights reserved

Picture reference: 32-000076-01 / AM2701P

© ADAGP, Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

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Title: Glass and checkerboard.

Author : GRAY Juan (1887 - 1927)

Creation date : 1914

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 73 - Width 60

Technique and other indications: Watercolor, charcoal, gouache, glued papers.

Storage location: National Museum of Modern Art - Center Pompidou website

Contact copyright: © Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - © Philippe Migeat

Picture reference: 47-000334-01 / AM1980-440

© Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Philippe Migeat

To close

Title: Bottle and glass.

Author : LAURENS Jean-Paul (1838 - 1921)

Creation date : 1917

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 59 - Width 39.5

Technique and other indications: Chalk, charcoal and paper cut and pasted on paper pasted on cardboard.

Storage location: National Museum of Modern Art - Center Pompidou website

Contact copyright: © ADAGP, © Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - © All rights reserved

Picture reference: 34-000349 / AM1984-570

© ADAGP, Photo CNAC / MNAM Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Publication date: June 2007

Historical context

Empathy for the popular

The Montmartre bohemian was mainly made up of young people breaking with the bourgeois environment. Dressed extravagantly, they imitated popular manners and speech, and led eventful evenings in neighborhood cabarets.

For some a real empathy supported this identification. Among the Cubists, many had moreover modest origins and atypical training: Braque, whose father was a house painter, had trained as a decorative painter; Raised in a working-class neighborhood, Laurens began his career as a stonemason on construction sites; Gris was also self-taught, having only two years of apprenticeship in industrial design at a Spanish school of arts and manufacturing when he arrived in Paris.

Numerous clues bear witness to this real identification with the working classes. None of the cubists wore the characteristic garb of the rapin, the apprentice bohemian artist: Picasso preferred overalls, and Braque the mechanic's blouse, the carpenter's breeches or the fishmonger's cap. They all called their merchant, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, “Patron” and enjoyed the same entertainment - the circus, the café-concert, the cinema, sports (boxing, wrestling, cycling), coffee or dance.

Image Analysis

Iconography, technique and popular materials

This proximity to popular circles can be seen in some of their works. In Musical instruments, Braque combines traditional classical instruments of the genre of still life with the modern and vulgar bandoneon, that of popular balls and cabarets. In addition, cubists often represent the world of cafes, glasses, newspapers, bottles of alcohol, packets of tobacco or games that clutter the tables and participate in the relaxation sought in these places: Braque reproduces cards play, Gray a checkerboard, Laurens a glass and a bottle. The very decoration which adorned the modest private and public spaces is present by the imitations of faux wood of Fruit bowl and two playing cards and the pieces of wallpaper (floral and faux wood) from Glass and checkerboard. These papers adorned the walls of dwellings and taverns, and replaced at less expense the paneling and wall fabrics of bourgeois and aristocratic decorations.

Braque also introduced in his canvases, soon followed by Picasso and Gris, techniques borrowed from the profession of painter and decorator: most of the inscriptions are painted with a stencil, and imitations of wood, as in Fruit bowl and two playing cards, are made using the teeth of a comb passed over the fresh paint in order to reproduce the grain of the wood more quickly.

Finally, for their pasted papers and their constructions, they used poor materials - fragments of newspaper, paper, wallpaper, wooden planks, sheets and metal tubes - mostly recovered in their environment. Picasso will even use tin cans in Glass, newspaper and dice or Bottle of Bass, glass and newspaper.

Interpretation

The artist, a manual worker?

The integration of subjects, techniques and materials affiliated with popular circles represents above all, as Apollinaire noted, a means of reinserting art into the present so that it is not locked into a tradition belonging exclusively to in the past tense: “Just as the language of the people was for Malherbe the good language of his time, the profession of the craftsman, of the house painter, should be for the artist the most vigorous material expression of painting. "

It was also equivalent to a “de-hierarchy” of traditional artistic categories. If, as Cubist works demonstrate, all subjects, processes and materials are valid for making art, this means that there is no distinction between fine art and other manual activities. . Some are not superior to others; André Salmon even spoke of "the definite benefit that the artist finds in examining the beauties of the workman's work".
Indirectly, and in the continuity of this desacralization of artistic creation, the cubists thus claimed a less exceptional status for the artist: the latter could be assimilated to a manual worker, as evidenced by the visibility of the processes (collage, assembly) and materials (paper, wood, metal, etc.) used in glued papers and constructions. They valued the technical and manual aspect of plastic activity, Conversely academic standards which recommended making the hand invisible, and put it back at the heart of the aesthetic appreciation of the finished work, like the place given to the craftsman's know-how in the evaluation of his masterpiece. To them, the artist was no more than a maker of special objects.

  • cubism
  • workers
  • Apollinaire (Guillaume)
  • bohemian (life of)
  • Artistic current
  • Picasso (Pablo)

To cite this article

Claire LE THOMAS, "Popular aspects of cubism"


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