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 basically threw out all of the traditional elements of perspective and depth and reverted to two dimensional renderings that could be regarded as regression, but in terms of Modern art was seen as tremendous progress.
The largest influences that led to the creation of Cubism were African sculpture and late period paintings by Paul Cezanne. These specific influences led to the works produced by Cubist artists, primarily Picasso and Braque, to share so many qualities that it is difficult at times to distinguish one painter's work from another. Juan Gris was another early adherent of Cubism, and was later joined by greats such as Leger and Delaunay.
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.