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Lesson Plans

Re: Cubism

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Robert Alexander Fromme (rfromme)
Wed, 20 Nov 1996 19:49:31 -0600

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At 04:08 PM 11/20/96 CST6CDT, Kathrine Walker wrote:
>My take on cubism is not trying to make things less realistic but
>looking at an object from multiple viewpoints at once - really sort of a

I find the association of Cubism with a search for Realism in this thread a
little hard to understand........

To my mind, Cubism seems to have been another step toward abstraction or non
objectivity. It followed the contributions of assorted Post Impressionists
and Impressionist artists.. The influences of flat and decorative Japanese
woodcut prints, stylized African ritual objects such as masks and the
effects which the invention of the camera had upon the traditional role of
realism in the visual art of the Western World are well documented. All of
these were working to encourage change and innovation. As a result the
tendency to reject Western tradition and its Academy in favor of
abstraction (or concerns of form rather then subject matter) were in the air
in the late 1800s and early 1900s.. Cubism was only one of several
movements which were to take us into this Century, with revolutionary
changes in the visual arts.

Some design devices of cubism involve.........

1. "multiple points of view" in the same picture plane mentioned by
Kathrine Walker

2. "shared edges" where the outside line of one shape also defines a second
shape, sometimes inverted, so that negative and positive spaces are
determined by your choice of dominant shape.

3. "part for whole" where only parts of objects are defined and your mind
fills in the rest of the object so it exists as a force or presence in the
composition without being presented as complete.

4. "continuity of line" where a line may be used to define the edge of a
dominant shape but then extend on out beyond
the edge of that shape to lock in and suggest the separation of the
adjoining negative area into other parts. This has the effect of creating a
unity between the positive and negative areas of the composition.

5. "transparent planes" where one object can be seen through or drawn into
another object. This device also adds to the unity of the formal composition.

6. a restricted, flat, "closet like" space which forces our attention to the
surface of the composition.

7. limited or "restricted color" which again forced attention to the
surfaces of the composition where line, value and shape carried the

8. Traditional spatial devices to aid in a sense of realism were rejected by
the cubists......[ such as a perspective of color (warm expands while cool
reseeds), relative size, linear perspective, and atmospheric (areal
perspective)] Instead, the Cubists chose overlap and the occasional use of
vertical placement to suggest a very limited sense of depth in most of their

9. volumetric concerns are expressed using "simplified shapes" such as the
cone, the cylinder, the cube as learned from Cezanne and African ritual
objects which were being imported and shown in Europe in the late 1800s and
early 1900s.

In every case, the Cubists were interested in formal concerns over subject
matter and, as a result, I find it hard to accept the suggestion that the
cubist were after issues of realism.

Bob Fromme

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