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Cubism came about in the first decade of the 19th century, in Paris and was led by two of the Masters, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. They produced a different viewpoint within their artwork, something very new, not seen before. Keeping the focus on still life and portraiture, the perspective in the painting was now mainly determined but definite lines, sharp angles and an abstract feel.
Look at this painting by Picasso. Painted in 1937, Weeping Woman, oil on canvas, 60 x 49cm and is located in the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
What do you see? What do you read into this portrait? What does the title of the painting tell you? Look at the colours used. Does this woman look happy?Picasso painted this portrait after the aerial bombings of Guernica, during the Spanish Civil War. Now knowing that the influence of this portrait was from a war, does this help you read into this painting? The warm colours show a lot of fear, fright, anger and then the blue area in the middle of face has all blue sad tones being reflected. Chattering blue teeth and black piercing eyes, show a woman in distress.
In contrast to Picasso’s cubism portraits, lets now take a look at one of Georges Braque’s still life paintings, painted around the same time as Weeping Woman in the Cubism style.
Vase, Palette and Mandolin, painted in 1936 by Georges Braque. Oil, charcoal and graphite on canvas, 81.28x100.65cm.
This is quite a large painting with a very subdued palette, much like a lot of Braque’s paintings. What do you see when you look at this painting? What about the structure of the still life? And the composition? Do the colours and the more subtle lines and sharp edges of this painting stand out to you more than Weeping Woman?Braque painted out the background to enhance the objects, in their abstract form and allow the viewer to concentrate on the somewhat disarray of placement and colours used.
And so, Cubism became an art movement. It continues to inspire many contemporary artists today and has always been part of the Australian Curriculum in middle and high school years. As art teachers struggle to find ways to teach art movements of era’s gone by, creating a self-portrait in a cubism style has become a very popular way to learn about the history of art.
This portrait is by artist Marlina Vera, Cubism Modern Art Adam & Eve, 55.88 x 71.12cm, oil on canvas, 2017, America.
It is a great example of artists taking a modern spin on a classic art movement. Now having reflected on two paintings painted almost 100 years earlier, how does this painting make you feel? What about the colours and the use of line? Can you see both a full-frontal portrait and a side portrait in both of these faces? That is the influence from Picasso who did this with many of his portraits in the Cubism era. From this painting, you can see how Cubism can be incorporated within the classroom as a fun example of studying a historic art movement.
Cubism was the inspiration behind the November Red’s Art Cart example artwork. Deciding between a still life and a portrait is never easy as both have their challenges but look so impressive as well. I chose the image of the girl with sunglasses because of its simplicity and the front on angle. A lot of cubism portraits are quite flat in perspective and show either a front profile or a side profile of the face or both (as with the painting from Vera). Using pencils rather than paint for this project lends itself to focus on creating a cubism artwork because of the ease of use, using coloured pencils.
Artwork by Mrs Red
To watch Mrs Red complete this portrait, please click here. You will enjoy seeing how the portrait came about and how simple it was to turn into a Cubism portrait, whilst keeping a modern feel to it with the colours and the modern feel of the original photograph.
In the November Red’s Art Cart, you will find a tin of 12 Derwent Coloursoft pencils. All but two colours where used in the cubism portrait, being white and dark brown. The Derwent Coloursoft range is exactly that, a smooth buttery texture, creating and leaving behind a very soft pencil line. There is 72 colours in the whole range and you can purchase the pencils individually or in sets. Please note though, Coloursoft is not sold through major outlets like Kmart and Officeworks. They are the top of the range for Derwent coloured pencils and you can only purchase them through art stores, both online and on the street.
Also, in the Cart is an Arto Sketch Book, with lovely 150gsm paper, spiral bound and perforated edge. You can never have enough sketch books! And also, some much needed drawing supplies including a 2 pack of Cretacolor woodless graphite pencils in HB and 2B, a Staedtler eraser and a double hole metal sharpener.
I encourage all my Art Carter’s to watch Mrs Red complete the cubism portrait and then take a photo of a friend of family member or even a selfie and then break the portrait up into a cubism artwork. Both the Arto paper and the Derwent Coloursoft pencils are absolutely ideal for this kind of project and I know you will love the results.
For more information on the Red’s Art Carts, a monthly art subscription, please click here. The Carts are a surprise to you every month, not knowing what is inside and it feels like your birthday comes around every month! Mrs Red’s also uploads video’s to YouTube about the monthly Cart and we have a private group page on Facebook so you can show each other what you have been working on.