Overlapping with any number of other movements on the march towards total abstraction, Cubism, in some ways, was an extension of the Fauves blurring of reality.
In that earlier movement, ridiculously bright colors were utilized to create canvases depicting relatively traditional subjects. What made the Fauves unique, though, was their collective extension of Impressionism. But in referencing that approach to painting, the Fauves found it necessary to insert some sort of commentary on the subject and its surroundings – in part related through the apparent brushstrokes.
Much in the same way, the Cubists felt a desire to comment on the multiplicity of identities an object or person might have. Figured through the collaborative efforts of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, Cubism aped its perspective of perspective from elsewhere, but shifted its intent and color palette.
It’s odd to consider that efforts to reveal the totality of any figurative element by rendering it in simple geometric shapes was painted in drab, almost monochromatic tones. There wasn’t a wealth of color in any of the earliest examples of Cubism – referred to as Analytic Cubism, due to its philosophical bent.
But in the ensuing years as the approach became more widespread – although, not necessarily immediately embraced by the art cognoscenti – a sub-strain of Cubism emerged and became referred as Synthetic Cubism. Perhaps in part due to the fact that it was contrived from earlier works and found itself being practiced by any number of painters, the name, apt or not, entails a wider use of color as well as a conflagration of topical material.
At some point in the early teens – as an entrance into this extension of Cubism – Braque and Picasso began including collage elements in their works. Anything from newspapers on down to odd scraps of paper made its way into these new constructs. Granted, it wasn’t far detached from what the pair had been working on since the first decade of the twentieth century, but it does appear that in some ways, these actions could be looked upon as the proper antecedent for Xeroxed art that gained a modicum of popularity in the seventies and eighties as it functioned as advertisements for events – music and otherwise.
Getting bogged down in what it all meant and who it influenced is easy to do. But more important than any of that, Cubism reveals itself as a tremendous leap towards the dismissal of totally representational art.