Cubism is considered one of the most influential visual art styles of the early twentieth century and represented a revolutionary new approach to portraying reality. It was created by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in Paris between 1907 and 1914. The name “cubism” seems to have derived from a comment made by the critic Louis Vauxcelles after viewing some of Braque’s landscape paintings exhibited in Paris in 1908, describing them as reducing everything to “geometric outlines, to cubes.” It is generally agreed to have begun about 1907 with Picasso’s groundbreaking painting Demoiselles D’Avignon, which included elements of cubist technique, incorporating stylization and distortion from African art. Cubism merged different views of subjects, usually objects or figures, in the same picture, resulting in paintings that appear fragmented and abstracted.

The Cubist style was partially influenced by the late work of Paul Cezanne in which can be uncovered images from slightly different points of view. Picasso was also inspired by African tribal masks, which are non-naturalistic, but nevertheless present a vivid human image. Cubism developed in two distinct phases: the initial, more austere Analytical cubism and a later phase known as Synthetic cubism. Artworks for the first, 1908-12, are more severe, interweaving planes and lines in muted tones of blacks, greys and ochres. Those of the later period, 1912-14, are characterized by simpler shapes and brighter colors, often including collaged real elements such as newspapers. Incorporating real objects directly in art was the start of a major breakthrough in modern art.

While Picasso and Braque are credited with creating this new visual language, it was adopted and further developed by many painters, including Fernand LégerRobert and Sonia DelaunayJuan GrisRoger de la FresnayeMarcel DuchampAlbert Gleizes, and Jean Metzinger. Though primarily associated with painting, Cubism exerted a profound influence on 20th-century sculpture and architecture. The major Cubist sculptors were Alexander ArchipenkoRaymond Duchamp-Villon, and Jacques Lipchitz. The adoption of the Cubist aesthetic by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier is reflected in the shapes of the houses he designed during the 1920s. Also, Piet Mondrian explored the use of the grid, abstract system of sign, and shallow space. Finally, the liberating formal concepts initiated by Cubism also had far-reaching consequences for Dada and Surrealism, as well as for all artists pursuing abstraction in Germany, Holland, Italy, England, America, and Russia.

Sources about Cubism in The Dalí Museum Library:

Elder, R. Bruce. Cubism and Futurism. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2018.

This prodigious volume examines the similarity and differences between Cubism’s and Futurism’s engagement with the new science of energy. The thesis demonstrates that the notion of energy made central to the new artwork by the cinema assumed a spiritual dimension. Both art movements were influenced by the advent of cinema and the author analyzes the various aspects in depth and with rare insight.

  • Call Number: N 6494 .C8 E43 2018

Golding, Peter. Cubism: A History and an Analysis 1907-1914. Belknap Press, 1988.

This book has become a standard text for an understanding and appreciation of Cubism as it describes the way the movement evolved from the early experiments of Picasso and Braque to the contributions of Leger, Delaunay, and others. Illuminating readings of major works enhance the reader’s experience. Halftone reproductions of 160-works are presented in this third edition of the book with substantial changes in the text and an additional some twenty new illustrations.

  • Call Number: ND 196 .C8 G6 1988

Jeffett, William;  Lahuera, Juan Jose. Picasso/Dali Dali/Picasso. Dali Museum and Museu Picasso, 2014.

This companion volume to the Picasso/Dali Dali/Picasso exhibition, which was staged and organized jointly with the Dali Museum and the Museu Picasso in collaboration with the Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali, provides a historical survey of key stages in their relationship. The exhibition presents a unique opportunity to search beyond the conventional view of the relationship and to explore the formerly neglected ties that bound them. The exhibition includes works by both artists, some of them not widely known, from more than twenty-five art galleries and private collections.

  • Call Number: N 7113 .D3 A4 S36 2014

Lemaitre, Georges. From Cubism to Surrealism in French Literature. Oxford University Press, 1941.

This book is a comprehensive survey and discussion of the main modernistic tendencies of contemporary art and literature. The author presents these new conceptions as part of contemporary life, choosing literature rather than art as his point of departure. Specifically explored is the relationship of the various artistic movements to the general evolution of the society in which they have developed.

  • Call Number: PQ 305 .L4 1941

Martin, Richard. Cubism and Fashion. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.

This volume is offered in conjunction with the exhibition “Cubism and Fashion,” which was presented at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from December 10, 1998, through March 14, 1999. This exhibition demonstrates how the fundamental elements of Cubist art were translated into fashion during the critical years from 1908 to the early 1020s and how Cubism has continued to influence designers. This guide provides an unprecedented survey of the complete change of the fashion silhouette from three-dimensional and fixed shapes to two-dimensional and ephemeral forms.

  • Call Number: TT 502 .M3684 1998

Fer, Briony; Batchelor, David; Wood, Paul. Realism, Rationalism, Surrealism: Art between the Wars. Yale University Press, 1993.

This book’s journey begins with considering responses by French artists to World War I, showing how Purism, Dad, and early Surrealism are related to the principles of post-war reconstruction. Moving on to the language of construction in France, Germany, and the Soviet Union, the authors review the contrasting demands of utility and decoration in art and design, and the relationship of Surrealism to issues of sexuality and Freudian theory. Finally, the book concludes by addressing the widespread debate overf the question of Realism in art.

  • Call Number: N 6494 R4 F47 1994

Cowling, Elizabeth and Mundy, Jennifer. On Classic Ground: Picasso, Leger, de Chirico and the New Classicism 1910-1930. Tate Gallery, 1990.

This handsomely illustrated exhibition catalogue fully explores the resurgence of Classicism – “return to order” as the movement was called – in France, Italy and Spain, and the many similarities between artists in all three countries. Featuring paintings sculptures and drawings by more than forty artists, including Picasso, Braque, Miatisse, Leger, De Chirico and Miro, the volume traces the origins of the movement from the post-Impressionist period and biographies of the artists. It presents a stimulating evaluation of a neglected and important aspect of modern art.

  • Call Number: N 6758 .C68 1990

Apollinaire, Guillaume. The Cubist Painters: Aesthetic Meditations 1913 from The Documents of Modern Art: Director, Robert Motherwell. Wittenborn, Schultz, Inc., 1949.

This essential text in twentieth century art presents the poet and critic’s aesthetic meditations on nine painters: Picasso, Braque, Metzinger, Gleizes, Laurencin, Gris, Leger, Picabia, and Duchamp. As a collection of essays and reviews, it is a milestone in the history of art criticism, valued today as both a reference work and a classic example of modernist creative writing. The book captures the immediacy of life of these important painters.

  • Call Number: ND 1265 .A62 1949

Cubism: Picasso’s Contemporaries in African Art. Gallery J. Visser/Maison Frison, 2006.

The connection between African Art and Cubism has been long established. This catalogue is comprised of objects, that seem to have a relationship with both the visual and the formal perspective of cubism. Some of the pieces are very similar to the ones in Picasso’s collection and “feel” cubist.

  • Call Number:  NB 1080 .C83 2006

Rupf Collection. Benteli Verlag, 2005.

  • Call Number: N 6494 C8 R87 2005

Written by Ira Piller

About The Dalí Museum
The Dalí Museum, located in the heart of picturesque downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, is home to an unparalleled collection of over 2,400 Salvador Dalí works, including nearly 300 oil paintings, watercolors and drawings, as well as more than 2,100 prints, photographs, posters, textiles, sculptures and objets d’art. The Museum’s nonprofit mission, to care for and share its collection locally and internationally, is grounded by a commitment to education and sustained by a culture of philanthropy.

The Dalí is recognized internationally by the Michelin Guide with a three-star rating; has been deemed “one of the top buildings to see in your lifetime” by AOL Travel News; and named one of the ten most interesting museums in the world by Architectural Digest. The building itself is a work of art, including a geodesic glass bubble, nicknamed The Enigma, featuring 1,062 triangular glass panels, a fitting tribute to Salvador Dalí’s legacy of innovation and transformation. Explore The Dalí anytime with the free Dalí Museum App, available on Google Play and in the App Store. The Dalí Museum is located at One Dalí Boulevard, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701.