Saturday, May 5, 2007

Cubism essay, update

I have now put the Cubism essay of the previous post into html which is much easier to access, approx. 50K vs. 1.6 MB, and I've removed the PDF file. The html file is at


JT said...

An interesting paper, and argued so clearly that even an ignoramus like me can follow it. (Incidentally, are you watching Simon Schama's "Power of Art" series on PBS, which began last night with Van Gogh and Picasso?)

The fact that you can sketch the representational outline behind an apparently abstract picture makes this ignoramus think:

1) So cubism was a true continuity, not really a radical change: it just hid things more thoroughly, it told you still more about how the painter "saw" things and still less about the things s/he saw? (Incidentally, why aren't there more women in this business?)

2) Since the invention of the camera, why didn't painters just leave representation behind for ever?

3) How much does it help to know the personal and political context of a painting? (As an extreme case: Schama was focusing last night on Guernica.)

4) What do you think, generally, about the art being made in TT these days? Do you see anything much happening that isn't generally "tourist art" — representational, with hackneyed subjects, concerned with real and imaginary pasts and idylls? Do you see anyone saying something true and powerful about the actual situation of T&T in 2007?

Mary said...

Thank you JT for those very welcome comments on the cubism paper.

About the PBS series which I would love to see, Flow switched us to digital last week and we're no longer getting PBS. I hope this is temporary but I hear there have been several letters to the paper and nothing has changed yet. So, no "Power of Art" and no Masterpiece Theatre.

The other questions -- I'll try the first part of the first one. I'd think cubism was both a continuity and a radical change, if that is possible. It made representation secondary and enabled the painter to focus on things like line, tone and colour for their own sake. In the case of cubism, the painter could do these things and the painting still had substance. By contrast, "pure" abstraction which followed on quite quickly after cubism often became merely decorative. By 1918 Malevich had done an all-black square or an all-white square, or was it both, and had realised that he'd reached a logical dead end.

jerome larken said...

cubism, like Pablo Picasso himself, was interesting because it was complex and full of contradictions! Pablo Picasso was a self avowed communist. However, Picasso was also one of the world's wealthiest artists, leaving his heirs an estate valued at $260 million ($1.5 billion in 2008 dollars) when he died in 1973. Pablo Picasso once remarked, 'I like to live like a poor man, except with lots of money'.

Mary said...

Thanks for commenting Jerome, any thoughts on the essay?