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https:/.../2020-07-13_arh303_braque-cubism.mp4

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    Okay, let's now take a look at
    the really first and very famous
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    face of abstraction that is known
    as Cubism. And this is George Braque's
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    "Violin and Palette."
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    A palette is, if you've ever seen
    the sort of stereotypical artist
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    holding a palette with all the colors.
    This is a palette up here, okay?
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    And so, it's "Violin and Palette."
    It's oil on canvas.
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    1909 to 1910. Sometimes we don't
    know exactly when artists paint this.
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    We are also in the period
    of time where artists go back
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    and sort of fiddle with their work.
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    Remember, this is oil and so it
    stays wet and you can --
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    You can play around with your work.
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    And notice that it's not really that big.
    Okay? It's fairly small.
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    You can clearly, I think, see
    see the violin in here and
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    some sheet music and then the palette
    and what looks like curtains here,
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    but I don't think you would argue with me
    that this is very abstract.
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    I mean we know it's something,
    we know it's got objects in it,
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    we know there's a subject here.
    But we -- It becomes increasingly
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    difficult to see this.
    So let's think a little bit about Braque
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    and sort of his process here.
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    Here are some lovely photos
    of Braque. Here he is in his studio
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    over on the left as a young man,
    sort of in his full Cubist phase.
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    And note that he's --
    Some of these that --
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    Instruments and other things
    that are on the wall,
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    these are his collections.
    And in many ways, you could go back
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    and look at "Violin and Palette,"
    and if you look at some of
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    these other Cubist works,
    the subject matter is very traditional.
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    It's kind of like a Dutch still life
    in which you have a bunch of things
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    piled on and the painters paint them.
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    In the Dutch still life, they are,
    of course, trying to make it
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    as naturalistic as it is possible.
    And what Braque is doing here
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    is making something that is very abstract.
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    But these are all objects in
    his studio that he would have used
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    to sort of -- He would have composed
    sort of a little still life and then
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    used that as a jumping off basis for
    his very abstract renderings of these.
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    Here he is later in life.
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    He kind of stuck with what he knew
    and he's now working with some
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    of these bigger geometric forms,
    but he still remains very much
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    an abstract artist all the way
    through his career.
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    You know, a lot of these artists,
    it's fascinating because they --
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    Several of the artists we'll talk
    about today, they go Paris.
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    It's like Van Gogh. You have to
    go to Paris because that's where it's at.
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    It's like everybody now wants to go
    to Brooklyn, you know?
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    Used to be Manhattan -- And now everybody
    wants to go Brooklyn and hang out.
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    But then it was Paris.
    And so, Braque, he went there and
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    he sort of goes through these
    sort of ontological stages.
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    And so, he sort of dabbles in kind of
    Impressionistic stuff, and then --
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    This is kind of post-Impressionist,
    very bright colors,
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    almost these large brushstrokes,
    like the painter Seurat.
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    And he has a sudden change in
    his style. And people have --
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    Scholars have suggested that
    this is because Braque goes down
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    to the south of France,
    and he becomes familiar with
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    the painting, in particular, of Cézanne.
    And we haven't really talked about
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    Cézanne in this course,
    but Cézanne is this
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    very important post-Impressionist
    painter. There have been several
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    retrospectives of his work.
    And he is really --
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    Cézanne is really the one who's really
    starting to take apart the landscape
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    and find this component geometry
    that is underlying this.
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    All the while also absolutely reinforcing
    the fact that the canvas
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    is two-dimensional and flat.
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    And so, it's this great sort of quixotic,
    impossible quest in many ways.
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    I mean, you want to show, you want
    to find the underlying geometry
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    and you also want to show that the canvas
    is flat, that it's two-dimensional.
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    So this is something that Cézanne works on
    and Cézanne works on it for a long time.
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    And he's incredibly wealthy. He doesn't
    have to worry about getting his --
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    Anybody buying his paintings.
    And Braque becomes interested in this,
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    but you can see he takes on a much --
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    Cézanne's got more of that sort of,
    you know, loose brushstroke
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    that we affiliate with Impressionism
    and post-Impressionism.
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    And here you can see we have
    a much more limited color palette.
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    It's not that sort of range of colors,
    it's just the green and the gold colors.
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    And it's much stronger geometries here.
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    So, you know, you think about this
    is 1907, he sees Cézanne --
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    And here is 1908, when he also goes
    down to the south of France.
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    So, there's a big change,
    so this is very important in his life.
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    And then from there, he goes on
    to reducing the color even more
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    and working more on, again,
    finding the underlying geometry.
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    In this case,
    in the "Houses at L'Estaque,"
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    he's using the geometry of the houses
    and the sort of mountainous
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    region for the geometry.
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    What he's now doing in this newer
    phase of what we call analytic Cubism
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    is he's taking something that
    you wouldn't necessarily think of
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    as being made of geometric shapes
    and solids,
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    and that is just a violin, a palette,
    some music,
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    maybe a newspaper, some curtains.
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    These are not things you think of as being
    cubes but he finds the geometry in these.
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    And you know, one of the things,
    just like with Impressionism,
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    that the term is taken --
    It was applied to
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    Monet's paintings as a pejorative term.
    The same thing happens with the Cubists.
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    There's a lot of apocryphal information
    about this,
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    and some people say it's metis.
    I don't know.
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    But somebody says Braque had
    reduced everything to cubes,
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    and in a very dismissive sort
    of way. So, of course,
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    what happens is this painting becomes
    known as Cubism.
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    And you know, you can sort of
    roughly, intuitively translate that
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    as finding the cube,
    finding the geometry in something.
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    Now, here's another Braque over here,
    and here's a Picasso,
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    and I dare you to figure out
    which is which, right?
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    It -- And I would never ask you
    to do that. But what happens is
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    we have one of the great artistic
    partnerships of the 20th century
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    that takes place in these few years when
    Braque and Picasso worked together.
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    Now Picasso, you remember,
    he has this sort of large ego,
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    he's coming off
    the "Demoiselles d'Avignon,"
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    which also had broken things up
    into its geometries.
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    And so, he and Braque, Picasso and Braque,
    were sort of arriving at the same place
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    at the same time, and they end up working
    together in their studios,
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    but working together and come up with,
    again, the style of painting
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    that is known as analytic Cubism.
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    And as you can see here,
    it becomes more and more abstract.
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    It's quite difficult
    in the later phases to see --
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    This is a street musician in Marseille,
    a Portuguese street musician here,
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    and you can only just sort of
    barely see his face here,
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    and little bits of guitar strings maybe.
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    This is Picasso's -- This is Picasso.
    "Ma Jolie" means "my beautiful one."
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    You know it's like, "Oh, I hope no one
    ever does a portrait of me like that."
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    But he has now totally broken up
    what would be a portrait into a series of,
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    you know, cubes and shapes
    and geometries. And so, again,
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    there's the sort of subject matter that is
    just the hanging, you know,
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    just the sort of frame, and then we have
    this exploration of space and form
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    going on in both of these.
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    So, here, --
    Very, very abstract, both of these.
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    Now, the "Violin and Palette" is
    a good one to look at in terms of
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    analytic Cubism because we can still see
    what's going on here, right?
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    We can still see, again, that there's
    the violin and the palette and the music.
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    And so, we can get a sense of how this
    is working for them.
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    This is a little bit earlier, this is
    a year or so before the "Portuguese"
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    and "Ma Jolie" in which they abstract
    things more and more and more.
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    And then Picasso, in particular, moves
    on to different kinds of art, but it is --
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    This is a little bit one of those moments
    like Caravaggio where this is --
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    This profoundly changes the way people
    think about art in Europe at this time.
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    This is an incredibly important milestone
    in terms of taking art that
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    was becoming sort of generally
    more abstract, and now really just
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    amping it up. And we end up with
    something that looks astonishingly
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    different from the art before it.
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    As I said, it's called analytic Cubism
    because there's this idea that it's --
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    You know, there's this analysis
    of the geometry.
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    And there's a couple of features
    I think that are helpful for you
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    to try to figure this out. Okay?
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    And one is the --
    There's very shallow pictorial space.
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    In fact, there's almost none. Okay?
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    So, we have this, again,
    this collapsing of space that
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    we've been talking about all
    the way along, with Japanese painting,
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    and then Japanese prints, and then,
    you know, later Impressionist painting.
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    So, we have this very shallow
    and collapsed pictorial space.
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    We have a limited palette. Okay?
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    And we talked about that
    when we talked about Caravaggio.
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    And that means there's very little color.
    It's not without color,
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    but the emphasis is on form here,
    it is not on color, and so there's
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    just little vestiges to sort of
    help you differentiate between
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    the different objects but there's
    very little color.
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    And then, very importantly,
    there's something called the Cubist grid.
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    And almost always, in particular
    with Braque and Picasso,
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    you can see a sort of grid here.
    And again, you can think about this
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    as a sort of template or skeleton
    or frame that all of this is hanging on.
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    And what happens with the Cubist grid
    is you have --
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    You have some objects that are sort of
    rendered three-dimensionally,
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    some that are completely flattened out,
    but they're all hanging on this grid.
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    And that grid also adds to the sense
    of the -- Overall sense of the geometry,
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    that this has been
    reduced to its geometry. Okay?
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    So, these are some of the features
    that are very important to think about
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    when you think about the Cubist grid.
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    I always think it's very helpful
    to think about this, in many ways,
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    as the opposite of what's
    happening in the Renaissance. Okay?
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    And so, we talked about the sort of --
    not discovery of perspective,
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    but the putting perspective into some sort
    of code with scientific perspective.
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    And Brunelleschi and Alberti, and this
    idea that you have a vanishing point,
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    and you have the orthogonals leading to
    that vanishing point,
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    and you have the transversals,
    and you create this grid so that
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    you can very carefully diminish
    figures along this grid. Okay?
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    So, we have figures getting smaller
    and smaller in the background.
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    And essentially what the Cubists do
    is they take that perspectival grid
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    that people worked so hard
    to figure out how to do (laughs),
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    and they just smash it back again, okay?
    Just (exhales) it back again.
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    And everything becomes collapsed
    in the picture plane, in that --
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    You know, sort of, very liminal space
    between us and the actual painting itself.
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    And so, again, I think these two ways
    of thinking about grids
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    nicely bracket the development of
    perspective, and the taking away
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    of perspective in this early abstract art.
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    One of the other things that's very
    important with this and it's --
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    I'm going to tell you, it's tricky, and
    so, just bear with me here a little bit,
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    is the fact that there's not a consistent
    system that is happening in Cubist work.
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    So, for instance, I don't know if it could
    be any more consistent Perugino,
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    if you could be more consistent than that.
    I mean, he has made this
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    so unbelievably clear.
    Literally, we have the transversals
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    and orthogonals plotted out here.
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    And people have said, suggested,
    in the past that this was made so clear
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    because this is such an important moment
    for the papacy, when Jesus basically
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    gives the keys of the church to Peter and
    therefore Peter then becomes
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    the first Pope and that's how
    the church acquires its power.
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    But it is absolutely crystal clear in
    a way that almost deadens the composition.
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    Right? It's so crystal clear. And so,
    we need about the Cubist grid
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    as not being like that, okay?
    And it's more variable.
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    And again, there's sort of things going
    in and out of three-dimensional space.
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    So, what do I mean by that?
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    Well, if you look at the side of
    the violin over here, you can see
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    that the violin has started to be formed
    into these cubes. And you know,
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    you can't take all these cubes and
    put them back and have them form a violin.
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    I mean, they're finding these underlying
    cubes, but it's not like you can put this
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    all together and, you know, put it back
    into place. It's not a jigsaw puzzle.
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    Okay? So -- But what he's done is Braque
    has found these forms,
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    but there are some places where he has
    rendered them almost with
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    fairly traditional modeling.
    And so, we get a sense here,
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    if you look over here at this corner,
    you know, that this is a line
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    that suggests that you have a face
    of this geometric feature that is
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    more or less parallel to the picture plane
    and that this one is receding away. Okay?
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    So there's that very sharp line.
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    But there are also elements in here
    that you can't see that, okay?
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    And there's just sort of a gradual merging
    along here.
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    And this is what we call passage,
    and this is -- This comes from --
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    This term was --
    Cézanne used this term.
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    And what it is is it's suggesting
    the way your eye really works.
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    You know, if you look at something very
    quickly and you get that first, you know,
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    snapshot and glance, you can see
    the sharp edges that form shapes.
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    But, in fact, the way we actually look at
    things is that we take time to look at
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    an object and we sort of look around
    the object and, you know,
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    we see all of the different aspects
    of it in our eye.
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    Again, that idea, like we talked about in
    Chinese art, of the cinematic eye.
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    The eyes are moving around here. And so,
    very importantly, what this does is this
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    adds in the element of time to
    the painting, because we are not
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    just seeing a snapshot of a frozen moment
    as you do in -- When you look through
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    the window into a Renaissance painting.
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    What the artist is saying is,
    "I understand you're going
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    "to stand in front of this and you're
    going to look at it and you're going to
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    "see all of these different aspects."
    And so, you've added in this element
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    of time. And there's been a lot
    of research, including by people
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    in our own department, about, you know,
    how much did people know about Einstein
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    and the fourth dimension and
    the inclusion of time.
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    And certainly, people like Braque
    and Picasso were --
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    They're artists, but they were aware of
    these ideas which were sort of floating
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    around Paris, you know? Paris was also
    the intellectual hub of Europe
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    at this time, and so, there may be some
    ties to the sort of popular science ideas
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    and this idea of time. But the idea of
    incorporating time, you know,
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    this is something fairly new
    in Western art. But, of course,
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    we've already seen this in Chinese art,
    if we think about something like
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    a hanging scroll and the way that
    your eye sort of moves up
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    as you take this visual pilgrimage
    through the space. Okay?
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    But this is something now very new and
    rendered in a very abstract manner. Okay?
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    So, this is all -- It's all a little
    difficult to get a handle on,
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    I realize that. But as I said,
    this particular painting by Braque
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    is one which I think is relatively easy
    to see these different aspects. Okay.
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    Alright. So, the next time, we are going
    to move from Braque
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    into Non-Objective painting.
Pavadinimas:
https:/.../2020-07-13_arh303_braque-cubism.mp4
Video Language:
English
Duration:
17:19

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