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All things considered: Still Life with Glass and Lemon.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Still Life with Glass and Lemon, 1910. Oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 39 13/16" (74 x 101.3 cm). Cincinnati Art Museum, Bequest of Mary E. Johnston, 1967.1428.

About the Art

Composed of abstract, monochromatic shapes, this painting's original subject is surprisingly a glass and lemon. The artist, Pablo Picasso, developed this unique system of breaking down objects into their basic geometric parts with French painter Georges Braque. The two explored this concept, called Analytic Cubism, between 1907 and 1912.

In this work, the glass and lemon are barely discernable amidst the overlapping shapes. Analytic Cubism examined everyday three-dimensional objects from multiple viewpoints, broke them down into geometric shapes, and then reorganized the mass of forms into a two-dimensional composition. The work is unified through the use of a monochromatic color scheme. Cubism can trace its roots to Paul Cezanne's exploration of nontraditional spatial arrangements as well as Iberian and African sculpture, which fragmented forms into geometric shapes.

This new approach to seeing and painting is considered Picasso's most innovative contribution to the art world. The influence of Analytic Cubism and its subsequent movement, Synthetic Cubism, would permeate the twentieth century.

About the Artist

Arguably the twentieth century's most influential and prolific artist, Pablo Picasso developed an interest in art as a young child in Spain. After settling in Paris, he experimented with new styles of painting and went through a series of artistic phases, including Blue Period, Rose Period, Analytic Cubism, Synthetic Cubism, and classicism.

Picasso's early studies developed his natural abilities as a painter, and he became quite proficient at painting in a realistic vein. But perhaps Picasso's most important contribution to the world of art is his eschewal of painting's traditional attempt to replicate the world in a realistic manner. Instead, Picasso tried to see the ordinary world in new ways. Through Cubism, Picasso moved beyond the human eye's limiting ability to see objects from only one vantage point at any given time.

Picasso's career after his early experiments with Cubism flourished for another sixty-five years. At times, the artist was embroiled in the turbulent politics of his era. For a time, Picasso was a fervent member of the Communist Party. But his most influential political statement was Guernica, painted in 1937 as a protest to the bombing of a small Spanish town by Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

Things to Consider

Cubism attempted to represent the fourth dimension (movement of space and time) by representing multiple viewpoints of a particular object. As you move around an object, you see different angles and perspectives. Cubism combined these together into one painting to suggest the passage of time. Consider the different ways that art, film, and music suggest the passage of time.

GalleryCards submitted by the Cincinnati Museum of Art.
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Title Annotation:GalleryCard
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:467
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