a history of western art

from the renaissance to the present

picasso and cubism


people, terms, and concepts: vanitas painting, primitivism, multiple perspectives, drawing what you know vs. drawing what you see


Know both the 'meaning' of the Demoiselles as a vanitas painting (be able to analyze this aspect of the work in terms of form and subject-matter and in relation to the preliminary sketch) and its art-historical significance as a precursor to Cubism (especially in the multiple perspectives of the squatting woman at the lower right and the semi-seated woman second from the left). Be able to discuss Picasso's use of African masks and primitivism to contribute to the meaning of the work, both in terms of its expressive content and in terms of the Cubist aim of drawing what you know, not what you see (an aim also shared by so-called primitive cultures and children). In the Braque below (or an 'unknown' analytic Cubist work), be able to discuss the use of multiple perspectives and other techniques to convey the conceptual truth of the object, rather than just its surface appearance.

Braque, Violin and Palette, Cubism, c. 1910

Picasso, Bottle of Wine and Dice, c. 1915

Picasso, Study for the Demoiselles, c. 1907

Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907