In what ways can Cubism be considered a 'realist' response to early twentieth century modernity?

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'Few can have guessed at the time it was made that the picture which Pablo Picasso worked on in the winter of 1906-1907, and which now is known as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, was destined to have so decisive an effect on all modern painting'.

The painting shows a group of female naked whores, two of them on the right hand side hideously deformed and two others staring, confronting the viewer. This image is disturbing 'both in its raw sexuality and in the violence it does to conventions of spatial illusion, figural integrity and compositional unity'. This painting was influenced by Iberian sculpture and African art. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon may show social struggles problematic in conditions of issues in gender and class. Georges Braque was extremely impressed by Picasso's accomplishment and influenced his work in many ways, and is clear to see in his painting Nude, which was produced in the winter of 1907-1908.The forms are simplified in this picture and the volumes are emphasized and are defined with heavy outlines, the shape is suggested by broad parallel brushstrokes. Braque entered six recent paintings into the Salon, and they rejected them all, he was extremely upset so he decided to exhibit his work with Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.

Kahnweiler opened a small gallery in Rue Vignon in 1907, and he bought a large amount of Picasso, Braque's and Derain's work. This shows how impressed he was with their paintings and the thought the style of cubism would be immense. The poet Apollnaire prefaced the catalogue for the exhibition, which was his debut as an art critic. In 1908, Braque started to paint landscapes in which he intended to longer reproduce more or less transient colour imitations, but to use the most secure elements of the landscape. He started to restrict his palette to just ochre's and different hues of green, brown and bluish grey. Braque's technique was very similar to that of Picasso's. In 1909, Picasso started to divide large volumes into series of smaller ones. After a while the cubists, started to have a change of interest towards planes instead of volumes. Louis Vauxcelles wrote in an article in Gil Blas, in November 1908, 'M.Braque is a very daring young man. He constructs metallic, distorted, outrageously simplified figures. He despises form and reduces everything - houses, landscapes, and figures- to geometrical designs, to cubes'.

The painters moved forward cautiously, sometimes stopping on the way and every so often going back to earlier methods. 1910 was considered as an important year in Cubism as this was a beginning of a new era. Picasso and Braque discontinued using the traditional way of seeing which had been used for over four centuries. They put an end to using the single viewpoint of perspective and they now viewed the object from a range of angles therefore attaining a new full, more effective vision. This was known as Analytical cubism.

In 1911, Picasso and Braque no longer conveyed the pure colour of the items represented and started to introduce lettering, occasionally stencilled onto the painting. Braque explained that the reason of including lettering was to 'demonstrate their purity and total absence of distortion that they were no longer governed by the laws of perspective'. And Braque explained that adding lettering gives a little more reality into the paintings. In 1912, the cubists took to replicating texture and during this time manufacturers were producing wallpaper that imitated woodwork, marble and textiles. And soon after they started to use pieces of newspaper, matchboxes and postage stamps pasted onto their work. This was known as 'papiers colles' or 'collage' as it's known today. This too gave the paintings more reality. Cubism wasn't all just about Picasso and Braque, however they were inspiration for other cubists such a Gris, Leger, Gleizes, Metzinger, and later on Delaunay and Marcel Duchamp. In 1913 -14 when all the most important findings had been made,...
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