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Analytical and Synthetic Cubism

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Cubism refers to the style of art that defines abstract structure instead of the other forms of pictorial elements, particularly by displaying various aspects of similar objects through fragmenting the depicted object. It was an opposite reaction to the traditional representation modes and concerns of impressionism with color and light. Louis Vauxcelles first denominated the style in the year 1908. He was inspired by the work of African sculpture and Cezanne. It is considered as an early 20th century movement and a style of art where a single viewpoint perspective was abandoned and made up of simple interlocking planes, geometric shapes, collage, etc. This movement adopted the method of viewing objects through breaking down the subject of the matter and then redefining it by following multiple viewpoints at the same time. Artists were determined to develop new means of representing the reality enabling the movement popularity to advance (Adriana 1).

The first phase of the movement is referred to as the analytical phase, and it recreates objects depending on how they are seen by mind instead of the eyes. It is considered as a branch of artistic movement developed between the years 1908 and 1912. Color, such as blue, grey and ochre, was used only in monochromatic scheme. Analytical cubists focused on forms such as sphere, cone and cylinder instead of emphasizing the color. During this phase, the cubist palette was limited in a great extent to browns, blacks, off-whites and grays. Similarly, forms were geometric, and compositions were intricate and subtle. Most of the time, the work of the early cubists consisted of muted tones. During the process of analyzing, breaking down and imagining, they held visual realism vestige. Their paintings were more detailed and images were gathered towards the middle of the work thereby growing towards the edges. The muted colors attracted the subtle perspective shifting that embodied the viewpoint. This stage was perceived as ‘analyzed and fragmented’ (Adriana 1).

The second phase, referred to as the synthetic phase, aims at recreating objects in brighter colors and simple forms. A number of people including Juan, Picasso, Juan Gris, and Braque between the year 1912 and 1919 developed synthetic Cubism. Unlike in the first phase, in the synthetic phase, paintings displayed simpler and fewer forms that were less based on natural objects. Contrary to analytical Cubism, this form of Cubism entails introduction of different surfaces, textures, papier colle, collage element, and a wide variety of combined subject matter. In addition, as opposed to synthetic cubism, analytical cubism analyses the reduced and natural forms into geometric parts on a two-dimensional plane. In the second stage, newspapers and foreign materials including wood veneer and chair caring are collaged on the canvas surface for the depicted objects. Cubism is considered as a modern movement, because the developed styles attracted many adherents from Paris and abroad. It influenced Willem de Kooning and other abstract expressionists. This marked the commencement of collage materials introduced as crucial ingredients of quality artwork ( 1).

Unlike analytical, synthetic Cubism advanced the movement where the sense of three-dimensionality diminished. Instead of reassembling and breaking down facets from the original image, an entirely new image was synthesized to develop expansive structures. In some cases, the subject was considered as a unified structure, and in some cases, it was not legible. To realize the outcomes, artists used collage methods, which involved overlapping a number of media and included graphics, patterns and words. Through this, synthetic cubism achieved pleasant thematic results that were not possible in analytical cubism. The creation of Picasso’s painting Three Musicians is an example of boldness presented by synthetic cubism. The piece displays the achievements of capturing the bohemian culture spirit facilitated by cut and pasted pieces of paper ( 1).

It is crucial to note that analytical cubism deals with pictorial elements spread across the canvas through sharply angled shapes. On the other hand, synthetic cubism makes use of cut out paper in order to display the image. Analytical cubism is considered as a deconstructive part, which dismantles the representation of conventional codes and shatters the unities of time and space. On the other hand, synthetic cubism was considered as the reconstructive part that collects fragmented pieces and elements, and combines them back according to the multiple perspective logic and hybrid with conflicting realities. From a volumetric flatness form between the year 1908 and 1909, a complex grid network evolved by 1911 where mass illusions were continuously fragmented and flattened (Layton 1).

Cubism is considered as the first modern movement in art, because it emerged during the period of rapid innovation and time of George Braque and Pablo Picasso. Analytical cubism replaced the most traditional representation modes and abandoned the perspective that artists had applied to order space during the Renaissance. Cubism moved away from what was considered as a realistic figures’ modeling to a system that represented bodies in space through the employment of tilted small planes in a shallow space. As the innovations advanced, Braque and Picasso moved to the open form. During that time, they pierced the figures’ bodies to give a chance for space to flow through them. This enabled a blend of the background with the foreground. Historians argue that this innovation represents an answer to the improving experience of movement, time and space in the modern world. Synthetic cubism was equally crucial and influential to the later artists. Braque and Picasso explored the use of foreign objects in the form of abstract signs (Adriana 1). 

In conclusion, historians were made to believe that artists were not only concerned with forms but also aware of the current events. It is evident that cubism has created channels for geometric abstract art through emphasizing unity between the canvas surface and the depicted picture scene. The fact that cubism was explored by a successive chain of artists that had an influence on its current state makes it a modern movement. For instance, after Braque and Picasso, other artists such as Piet Mondrian continued exploring its shallow space and signs abstract system. To realize a better decorative effect, brighter colors were used where a number of artists continued using collage in their image composition (Layton 1). 

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