Elusive Cubism…

I’m completely fascinated by Cubism lately.  When I look at paintings like Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending Staircase’ and Pablo Picasso’s ‘Demoiselles D’Avignon’ I am completely in awe of the genius required to create these images.  I try to study the technique of distilling an image to its simplest shapes and planes in space and it just ends up looking like a two year old’s drawing.  OK, so maybe some Cubist art looks, to the inexperienced eye, like toddler art, but, trust me, IT’S NOT.  The energy, vitality, fantasy and movement in these images is nearly impossible to imitate.   I am taking an Abstract Expressionism drawing class which is turning out to really be focused on Cubism rather than Abstract Expressionism, which is OK for now.  But, here’s the thing…I am obsessed with trying to understand what Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Duchamp and others did and how they did it, but even if I got REALLY good at it I would still be very reluctant to call it ‘Cubism.’  After everything I’ve read about what was going on in the art world at the time (early 20th century), Cubism (to me) is a term that is very specific to that period.  It was a HUGE time of change in the standards in art – what was ‘correct,’ what was art’s purpose, how was art defined, etc.  I…I…I just want to go back in time and have the opportunity to hang out with those guys and watch them work and experience the upheaval in the art world that was happening then.  How wonderful it must have been!

In my Abstract Expressionism class we made several drawings of a still life from different views and then cut up the drawings and put different slices of each drawing together and made a new drawing from them.  We then added some finishing touches to the pasted together piece.  It’s a representation of a form of Cubist art and I love it, but I still have a lot to learn about how to visualize an object or group of objects in this way in a single drawing.

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