Juan Gris - Still Life with a Guitar (1913)

Art History: Cubism (c. early 20th century)

Art has always been a reflection of the ever-evolving human experience, capturing the essence of different eras and their unique perspectives. Among the myriad art movements that have graced history, Cubism stands as a transformative and revolutionary style that emerged in the early 20th century. This avant-garde movement shattered traditional notions of representation and perspective, giving birth to a new visual language that challenged the very foundations of art.

The Essence of Cubism

Cubism, born around 1907, was a groundbreaking movement that sought to deconstruct and reconstruct the way we perceive reality. Artists involved in Cubism aimed to depict the world from multiple viewpoints simultaneously, breaking down objects and subjects into geometric shapes and planes. This radical departure from traditional artistic representation paved the way for a new level of abstraction and complexity.

Analytic Cubism

One of the primary phases of Cubism, Analytic Cubism, emerged between 1907 and 1912. During this period, artists delved deep into the essence of their subjects, breaking them down into fragments that were then reassembled to offer multiple perspectives. The color palette was often reduced to muted tones, emphasizing form and structure.

Synthetic Cubism

Following Analytic Cubism, Synthetic Cubism emerged around 1912 and persisted until roughly 1919. This phase introduced collages and mixed media elements, integrating different materials into artworks. The use of bold colors and fragmented forms became even more pronounced, giving artworks a dynamic and textured quality.

Pioneering Cubist Painters

Cubism produced several remarkable artists who pushed the boundaries of artistic expression. Here are five notable painters who left an indelible mark on the movement:

1. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

  • "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" (1907): Often considered a seminal work of early Cubism, this painting features distorted and fragmented figures in a brothel setting. Picasso's exploration of African art influences and geometric abstraction are evident in this groundbreaking piece.

2. Georges Braque (1882-1963)

  • "Violin and Candlestick" (1910): This artwork exemplifies the Analytic Cubist approach, depicting a violin and candlestick fragmented into geometric shapes. The juxtaposition of different angles challenges traditional representation.

3. Juan Gris (1887-1927)

  • "Still Life with Guitar" (1913): Gris's work often featured a more structured and organized approach to Cubism. "Still Life with Guitar" showcases his intricate use of shapes and colors to create a harmonious composition.

4. Fernand Léger (1881-1955)

  • "The City" (1919): Léger's interpretation of Cubism often incorporated elements of Futurism and abstraction. "The City" portrays the dynamism of modern urban life through fragmented forms and bold colors.

5. Robert Delaunay (1885-1941)

  • "Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon" (1913): Delaunay's Cubist style was heavily influenced by abstraction and color theory. This painting exemplifies his fascination with the interplay of light, color, and geometric shapes.


Cubism, with its Analytic and Synthetic phases, emerged as a radical departure from traditional artistic conventions. Its innovative approach to representation and perspective shattered the mold of artistic expression, giving birth to a new visual language that celebrated abstraction, geometry, and multiple viewpoints. Through the works of pioneers like Picasso, Braque, Gris, Léger, and Delaunay, Cubism continues to inspire and influence artists and art enthusiasts around the world, reminding us of the power of pushing boundaries and reimagining the familiar.


Shop with us

Back to blog