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Entries in Cubism (9)


Juan Gris: Formalizing Cubism

Juan Gris - Still Life before an Open Window, Place Ravignan - 1915 - oil on canvas, 115.9 x 88.9 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art (click photo for larger image)Juan Gris (1887-1927) was a Spanish painter born in Madrid who lived and worked in France most of his life. Closely connected to the innovative Cubism genre, his works are among the movement's most distinctive. Gris built upon the foundations of early Cubism and steered the movement in new directions. A member of the tight-knit circle of avant-garde artists working in Paris, Gris adopted the radically fragmented picture spaces of Picasso and Braque, imparting to his works a bold, graphic look. His paintings are immediately distinguishable from theirs, informed by his background as an illustrator, with a slick, almost commercial appearance, and crisp design elements throughout. While Braque and Picasso’s experiments were exploratory and highly theoretical, Gris is credited with formalizing Cubism into a definable approach.

Juan Gris was one of Gertrude Stein's favorite artists, and the only Cubist talented enough to make Picasso uncomfortable!


Amédée Ozenfant: Purism

Amédée Ozenfant, 1921, Nature morte au verre de vin rouge (Still Life with Glass of Red Wine), oil on canvas, 50.6 x 61.2 cm, Kunstmuseum Basel (click photo for larger image)French artist Amédée Ozenfant (1886-1966) was once associated with the Cubism movement, but found himself in disagreement with the direction of the movement as time moved forward. 

Purism, referring to the arts, was a movement that took place between 1918 and 1925, and was led by Ozenfant and Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) (1887-1965). It was a variation of Cubism, where objects were represented as elementary forms devoid of detail. The main concepts were presented in a book they wrote, Après le Cubisme (After Cubism), published in 1918.

Purism was an attempt to restore regularity in a war-torn France during hte post World War I era. Unlike what they saw as the “decorative fragmentation” of objects in Cubism, Purism proposed a style of painting where elements were simple and robust form, which also embraced technology and the machine.


Georges Braque: A Multifaceted Painter

Georges Braque - L’Estaque - 1906 - Oil on canvas - Private collection (click photo for larger image)Although Georges Braque (1882-1963) is best known for his collaboration with Pablo Picasso on the development of Cubism, he had a long career during which he explored objects through color line and texture. 

Braque’s early paintings reveal the influence of the Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, and later he carefully studied the structures and synthesis of color and tonal values in the art of Paul Cézanne. He later wholly engaged with the intense use of color by the Fauves—prior to moving on to the Cubist experiments for which he is best known.

Braque also was an artist who preferred being alone in his studio—rather than “being a personality in the art world”. For this reason, his achievements were and remain somewhat overshadowed by the developments of his fellow collaborator, the dynamic Picasso. The two actually were good friends. It is impossible to say which of them was the principal inventor of the revolutionary new style, because we know that they exchanged ideas almost daily. However, we do know that it was Braque who initiated the tendency toward using geometric forms, largely based upon his respect for the work of Cézanne.

In the work featured here, we see Braque’s Fauvist interpretation of L’Estaque, an area frequently visited by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.

You can read more about all of the artists mentioned here elsewhere on this site.


August Macke: Feelings and Moods

August Macke - Lady in a Park - 1914 - Oil on canvas - 38 1/2 x 23 1/4" (97.8 x 58.9 cm) - MoMA, New York (click photo for larger image)German Expressionist painter August Macke (1887-1914) was a member of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) organization of artists, based in Germany, that contributed greatly to the development of abstract art. He lived most of his creative life in Bonn, with the exception of a few periods spent in Switzerland and various trips to Paris, Italy, the Netherlands and Tunisia. His style was formed within the mode of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and he later went through a Fauve period, which greatly influenced him throughout his life. In 1909, through fellow artist Franz Marc, he met Wassily Kandinsky—both featured elsewhere on this site. For a time, Macke shared the non-objective aesthetic and the mystical and symbolic interests of Der Blaue Reiter.

Macke's meeting with Robert Delaunay (also discussed on this site) in Paris in 1912 was something of an epiphany for him. Delaunay's chromatic Cubism (labeled Orphism) influenced Macke's art from that point forward. The exotic atmosphere of Tunisia, where Macke traveled in April 1914 was also fundamental to the luminist approach of Macke’s final period, during which he produced a series of works now considered masterpieces. His later works focus primarily on representing emotions and moods, in part through a distortion of color and form. The influence of Fauvism remains evident throughout his oeuvre—as you will observe in the work featured here. 

Sadly, Macke died at the front during WWI—an artist lost far too soon.


Feininger: Art + Science + Technology

Lyonel Feininger - Sunset - 1930 - oil on canvas - 47.94 x 77.79 cm (18 7/8 x 30 5/8 in.) - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA (click photo for larger image)German-American painter Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) ( ) was a leading exponent of Expressionism—and also very much embraced the Cubist style. Feininger’s paintings and teaching activities at the Bauhaus—a German school of design, architecture and applied arts—brought a new compositional discipline and lyrical use of color into German Expressionism.