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Cubism was a revolutionary movement that is commonly seen as as a monumental shift in Western art. The movement, founded by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, was based on analytical visions and fragmented compositions that would sometimes include multiple perspectives of the same object. Where traditional western art had imitated nature and objects realistically for centuries, the Cubists essentially threw out all of the traditional elements of perspective and depth and reverted to two dimensional renderings. While this could be regarded as regressive to some, in terms of Modern art, this was seen as tremendous progress.

The largest influences that led to the creation of Cubism were certain types of African sculpture and figuration, ancient Aegean sculpture, and late period paintings by Paul Cezanne.

Cubist artworks presented objects from multiple perspectives simultaneously, challenging the viewer to actively piece together the whole. This resulted in dynamic, faceted compositions that emphasized the flatness of the canvas while simultaneously suggesting three-dimensionality.

Cubism is one of the few movements which can mark its genesis on the completion of one work. Picasso's reknowned "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" is the painting that started it all. This early style of Cubism is called "Analytical" with more subdued colors and softer shapes. "Synthetic" Cubism arrived around 1912 and led to the uses of much more vivid colors, more abstract and decorative shapes and the introduction of collage.

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Did You Know?

Did you know that art critic Louis Vauxcelles inadvertently named the Fauves by poking fun at the "wild beast" nature of the paintings? He also inadvertently named Cubism. In a conversation with Henri Matisse after viewing a Juan Gris exhibition in 1908, he spoke of the "bizarre cubiques (cubes)."

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