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Tony Grist

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Art And Artists [Jan. 31st, 2009|10:44 am]
Tony Grist
Ailz's course in 20th century art starts round about now. The first tutorial is next week; there are books full of pretty pictures all over the house and we lie in bed at night and talk about Cubism.
 
I don't get Cubism. I don't get why exactly it should be considered such a good idea to chop things into little cubes or shards or whatever those things are. I get Cezanne- who builds his paintings as if he were building a wall- and I get the primitivism of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon- and I get the pure abstraction of people like Mondriaan. But Cubism?  No. Even after 100 years there seems to be some uncertainty as to what it was all about - and I note that the artists who came up with the theory- or theories- were the second-raters like Whassisname and Whojamiflip. The guys who invented the brand- Braque and Picasso- said nothing. They just got on with it. I prefer to think of it as a transitional style, a bridge between primitivism and whatever comes next- dada or surrealism. Also rather academic and constricting- and it doesn't surprise me that Picasso got bored with it sooner rather later. Maybe Ailz, who thinks it's wonderful, will be able to persuade me otherwise.

The other artist in my life at the moment is Renoir. I'm working on a jig-saw of his Le Moulin de la Galette. It's tough. With most jigsaws you get lines and well-defined shapes,  but with Renoir it's all  blibs and blobs of colour that only resolve themselves into an image when you step a long way back. My old art teacher- Tom Griffiths- used to say that Renoir was the greatest of all painters because he painted joy. Myself, I think that Renoir is largely crap- he couldn't draw for starters- but I'll allow that a handful of his early paintings- the big compositions with lots of people having a hell of a good time- are really rather splendid. Le Moulin de la Galette is one of them.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2009-01-31 12:44 pm (UTC)
I think it's easier now to not get Cubism because we live in a machine/electronic age where it's common for everything to be broken down into discrete bits and rendered as series of chunks or bits. But when Cubism was around, it was still unnerving and intriguing to think that life might be able to be disassociated into parts that way.

Just my "before coffee and the baby kept me up all night so I'm tired" seat of the pants conjecture.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-31 01:29 pm (UTC)
No, that's good. I think you're onto something there.

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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-01-31 04:42 pm (UTC)
I do hope that Aliz will educate you about Cubism, which is not about cubes. And your Cezanne was actually a huge inspiration in the first part of the period. (There are several types of Cubism)

It's funny that some of my former students, who as members of my Artistically-Talented classes, sometimes had a difficult time with Cubism. Most of them ended up with it as one of their favorite art periods. It certainly had a HUGE role in turning art from the realistic and tightly controlled classicism to something that became more truly ART. (Come on Aliz... YOU CAN DO IT!)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-31 04:51 pm (UTC)
I hope she does too. I'd like to see the point of Cubism, I really would, because I love Picasso- only not, particularly, his Cubist period.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-01-31 05:24 pm (UTC)
That's interesting because his Cubist period strongly influenced all of his later art.

Picasso is okay. He did a lot of "stealing" from other artists and sometimes his work was very mediocre. He certainly traded on his fame. I do like many of his pieces, including the monumental sculpture that is in Chicago, but I prefer the work of many other artists.

As an example, the Demoiselle's painting(s) was created after he attended a display of African Art. (African being one of my favorite kinds of art.)

Put into a nutshell...
Cubism was meant to show many viewpoints combined into one piece. It was often quite ugly looking. That did not matter because true art does not need to be "beautiful". Early Cubism involved rejecting color, using only neutrals. It showed the most of Cezanne's influence. Later Cubism involved using color again, but was very limited. Braque (who really was more of the originator) and Picasso rejected classic perspective, working with very flat plains. It rejected realism. It even rejected individuality. If you see a lot of the Cubist works and don't know which artist painted which painting you won't be able to tell which belongs to Picasso, and which belongs to Braque. They also "invented" collage during that period by using "artificial texture" - meaning they added "fake" parts made from various materials, such as wallpaper, to the artworks.

That period was SO influential to modern art! I don't particularly love the works, but I do really appreciate them. It was one of the periods in art that marked a huge turning point in art history.

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. (Paul Cezanne)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-31 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, It's a bit screwy to adore Picasso and not like his cubist work. That's why I'm hoping to change. Mind you, I don't like the blue period either.

My take on Picasso is that he kept on getting better and better. I know that's an eccentric view. It comes out of stumbling across an exhibition of his late work in Avignon in 1970 and being knocked sideways by it.

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[User Picture]From: mummm
2009-02-01 08:04 am (UTC)
You know I appreciate anyone who appreciates art... any of it! :^)))

(My icon is a Picasso)
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2009-01-31 05:59 pm (UTC)
I don't get why exactly it should be considered such a good idea to chop things into little cubes or shards or whatever those things are.

Because if you're used to analog, digital is strange and fascinating as hell?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-31 07:49 pm (UTC)
So it wasn't Al Gore who invented the Internet- it was Picasso!
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2009-01-31 08:16 pm (UTC)
it was Picasso!

Dude. Picasso would have loved the internet.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-31 09:38 pm (UTC)
Too true. He'd have thought of all sorts of nifty, new ways to use it for art.
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[User Picture]From: petercampbell
2009-01-31 06:24 pm (UTC)
I tend to think of cubism as being part of many things that were happening around the same time - relativity and existentialism in particular. They shared the same idea that there wasn't one fixed viewpoint, or any one particular morality, and cubism can be seen as an artistic extension of that.

Picasso did indeed get bored with it very quickly, but he was one of those artists that picked and discarded at a huge number of different styles throughout his career. It's not an invalidation of it as a movement though, and it's been hugely influential, and not just in the field of painting and sculpture.

I agree about Renoir though. Fluffy and twee are two words that come to mind, though I know that I'm being unfair to the more innovative aspects of his work there.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-31 09:47 pm (UTC)
I think of cubism as a springboard.

Renoir can be shockingly bad. Tasteless, kitsch, sentimental. His son- the film maker- was a much greater artist.
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