
Okay, let's now take a look at
the really first and very famous

face of abstraction that is known
as Cubism. And this is George Braque's

"Violin and Palette."

A palette is, if you've ever seen
the sort of stereotypical artist

holding a palette with all the colors.
This is a palette up here, okay?

And so, it's "Violin and Palette."
It's oil on canvas.

1909 to 1910. Sometimes we don't
know exactly when artists paint this.

We are also in the period
of time where artists go back

and sort of fiddle with their work.

Remember, this is oil and so it
stays wet and you can 

You can play around with your work.

And notice that it's not really that big.
Okay? It's fairly small.

You can clearly, I think, see
see the violin in here and

some sheet music and then the palette
and what looks like curtains here,

but I don't think you would argue with me
that this is very abstract.

I mean we know it's something,
we know it's got objects in it,

we know there's a subject here.
But we  It becomes increasingly

difficult to see this.
So let's think a little bit about Braque

and sort of his process here.

Here are some lovely photos
of Braque. Here he is in his studio

over on the left as a young man,
sort of in his full Cubist phase.

And note that he's 
Some of these that 

Instruments and other things
that are on the wall,

these are his collections.
And in many ways, you could go back

and look at "Violin and Palette,"
and if you look at some of

these other Cubist works,
the subject matter is very traditional.

It's kind of like a Dutch still life
in which you have a bunch of things

piled on and the painters paint them.

In the Dutch still life, they are,
of course, trying to make it

as naturalistic as it is possible.
And what Braque is doing here

is making something that is very abstract.

But these are all objects in
his studio that he would have used

to sort of  He would have composed
sort of a little still life and then

used that as a jumping off basis for
his very abstract renderings of these.

Here he is later in life.

He kind of stuck with what he knew
and he's now working with some

of these bigger geometric forms,
but he still remains very much

an abstract artist all the way
through his career.

You know, a lot of these artists,
it's fascinating because they 

Several of the artists we'll talk
about today, they go Paris.

It's like Van Gogh. You have to
go to Paris because that's where it's at.

It's like everybody now wants to go
to Brooklyn, you know?

Used to be Manhattan  And now everybody
wants to go Brooklyn and hang out.

But then it was Paris.
And so, Braque, he went there and

he sort of goes through these
sort of ontological stages.

And so, he sort of dabbles in kind of
Impressionistic stuff, and then 

This is kind of postImpressionist,
very bright colors,

almost these large brushstrokes,
like the painter Seurat.

And he has a sudden change in
his style. And people have 

Scholars have suggested that
this is because Braque goes down

to the south of France,
and he becomes familiar with

the painting, in particular, of Cézanne.
And we haven't really talked about

Cézanne in this course,
but Cézanne is this

very important postImpressionist
painter. There have been several

retrospectives of his work.
And he is really 

Cézanne is really the one who's really
starting to take apart the landscape

and find this component geometry
that is underlying this.

All the while also absolutely reinforcing
the fact that the canvas

is twodimensional and flat.

And so, it's this great sort of quixotic,
impossible quest in many ways.

I mean, you want to show, you want
to find the underlying geometry

and you also want to show that the canvas
is flat, that it's twodimensional.

So this is something that Cézanne works on
and Cézanne works on it for a long time.

And he's incredibly wealthy. He doesn't
have to worry about getting his 

Anybody buying his paintings.
And Braque becomes interested in this,

but you can see he takes on a much 

Cézanne's got more of that sort of,
you know, loose brushstroke

that we affiliate with Impressionism
and postImpressionism.

And here you can see we have
a much more limited color palette.

It's not that sort of range of colors,
it's just the green and the gold colors.

And it's much stronger geometries here.

So, you know, you think about this
is 1907, he sees Cézanne 

And here is 1908, when he also goes
down to the south of France.

So, there's a big change,
so this is very important in his life.

And then from there, he goes on
to reducing the color even more

and working more on, again,
finding the underlying geometry.

In this case,
in the "Houses at L'Estaque,"

he's using the geometry of the houses
and the sort of mountainous

region for the geometry.

What he's now doing in this newer
phase of what we call analytic Cubism

is he's taking something that
you wouldn't necessarily think of

as being made of geometric shapes
and solids,

and that is just a violin, a palette,
some music,

maybe a newspaper, some curtains.

These are not things you think of as being
cubes but he finds the geometry in these.

And you know, one of the things,
just like with Impressionism,

that the term is taken 
It was applied to

Monet's paintings as a pejorative term.
The same thing happens with the Cubists.

There's a lot of apocryphal information
about this,

and some people say it's metis.
I don't know.

But somebody says Braque had
reduced everything to cubes,

and in a very dismissive sort
of way. So, of course,

what happens is this painting becomes
known as Cubism.

And you know, you can sort of
roughly, intuitively translate that

as finding the cube,
finding the geometry in something.

Now, here's another Braque over here,
and here's a Picasso,

and I dare you to figure out
which is which, right?

It  And I would never ask you
to do that. But what happens is

we have one of the great artistic
partnerships of the 20th century

that takes place in these few years when
Braque and Picasso worked together.

Now Picasso, you remember,
he has this sort of large ego,

he's coming off
the "Demoiselles d'Avignon,"

which also had broken things up
into its geometries.

And so, he and Braque, Picasso and Braque,
were sort of arriving at the same place

at the same time, and they end up working
together in their studios,

but working together and come up with,
again, the style of painting

that is known as analytic Cubism.

And as you can see here,
it becomes more and more abstract.

It's quite difficult
in the later phases to see 

This is a street musician in Marseille,
a Portuguese street musician here,

and you can only just sort of
barely see his face here,

and little bits of guitar strings maybe.

This is Picasso's  This is Picasso.
"Ma Jolie" means "my beautiful one."

You know it's like, "Oh, I hope no one
ever does a portrait of me like that."

But he has now totally broken up
what would be a portrait into a series of,

you know, cubes and shapes
and geometries. And so, again,

there's the sort of subject matter that is
just the hanging, you know,

just the sort of frame, and then we have
this exploration of space and form

going on in both of these.

So, here, 
Very, very abstract, both of these.

Now, the "Violin and Palette" is
a good one to look at in terms of

analytic Cubism because we can still see
what's going on here, right?

We can still see, again, that there's
the violin and the palette and the music.

And so, we can get a sense of how this
is working for them.

This is a little bit earlier, this is
a year or so before the "Portuguese"

and "Ma Jolie" in which they abstract
things more and more and more.

And then Picasso, in particular, moves
on to different kinds of art, but it is 

This is a little bit one of those moments
like Caravaggio where this is 

This profoundly changes the way people
think about art in Europe at this time.

This is an incredibly important milestone
in terms of taking art that

was becoming sort of generally
more abstract, and now really just

amping it up. And we end up with
something that looks astonishingly

different from the art before it.

As I said, it's called analytic Cubism
because there's this idea that it's 

You know, there's this analysis
of the geometry.

And there's a couple of features
I think that are helpful for you

to try to figure this out. Okay?

And one is the 
There's very shallow pictorial space.

In fact, there's almost none. Okay?

So, we have this, again,
this collapsing of space that

we've been talking about all
the way along, with Japanese painting,

and then Japanese prints, and then,
you know, later Impressionist painting.

So, we have this very shallow
and collapsed pictorial space.

We have a limited palette. Okay?

And we talked about that
when we talked about Caravaggio.

And that means there's very little color.
It's not without color,

but the emphasis is on form here,
it is not on color, and so there's

just little vestiges to sort of
help you differentiate between

the different objects but there's
very little color.

And then, very importantly,
there's something called the Cubist grid.

And almost always, in particular
with Braque and Picasso,

you can see a sort of grid here.
And again, you can think about this

as a sort of template or skeleton
or frame that all of this is hanging on.

And what happens with the Cubist grid
is you have 

You have some objects that are sort of
rendered threedimensionally,

some that are completely flattened out,
but they're all hanging on this grid.

And that grid also adds to the sense
of the  Overall sense of the geometry,

that this has been
reduced to its geometry. Okay?

So, these are some of the features
that are very important to think about

when you think about the Cubist grid.

I always think it's very helpful
to think about this, in many ways,

as the opposite of what's
happening in the Renaissance. Okay?

And so, we talked about the sort of 
not discovery of perspective,

but the putting perspective into some sort
of code with scientific perspective.

And Brunelleschi and Alberti, and this
idea that you have a vanishing point,

and you have the orthogonals leading to
that vanishing point,

and you have the transversals,
and you create this grid so that

you can very carefully diminish
figures along this grid. Okay?

So, we have figures getting smaller
and smaller in the background.

And essentially what the Cubists do
is they take that perspectival grid

that people worked so hard
to figure out how to do (laughs),

and they just smash it back again, okay?
Just (exhales) it back again.

And everything becomes collapsed
in the picture plane, in that 

You know, sort of, very liminal space
between us and the actual painting itself.

And so, again, I think these two ways
of thinking about grids

nicely bracket the development of
perspective, and the taking away

of perspective in this early abstract art.

One of the other things that's very
important with this and it's 

I'm going to tell you, it's tricky, and
so, just bear with me here a little bit,

is the fact that there's not a consistent
system that is happening in Cubist work.

So, for instance, I don't know if it could
be any more consistent Perugino,

if you could be more consistent than that.
I mean, he has made this

so unbelievably clear.
Literally, we have the transversals

and orthogonals plotted out here.

And people have said, suggested,
in the past that this was made so clear

because this is such an important moment
for the papacy, when Jesus basically

gives the keys of the church to Peter and
therefore Peter then becomes

the first Pope and that's how
the church acquires its power.

But it is absolutely crystal clear in
a way that almost deadens the composition.

Right? It's so crystal clear. And so,
we need about the Cubist grid

as not being like that, okay?
And it's more variable.

And again, there's sort of things going
in and out of threedimensional space.

So, what do I mean by that?

Well, if you look at the side of
the violin over here, you can see

that the violin has started to be formed
into these cubes. And you know,

you can't take all these cubes and
put them back and have them form a violin.

I mean, they're finding these underlying
cubes, but it's not like you can put this

all together and, you know, put it back
into place. It's not a jigsaw puzzle.

Okay? So  But what he's done is Braque
has found these forms,

but there are some places where he has
rendered them almost with

fairly traditional modeling.
And so, we get a sense here,

if you look over here at this corner,
you know, that this is a line

that suggests that you have a face
of this geometric feature that is

more or less parallel to the picture plane
and that this one is receding away. Okay?

So there's that very sharp line.

But there are also elements in here
that you can't see that, okay?

And there's just sort of a gradual merging
along here.

And this is what we call passage,
and this is  This comes from 

This term was 
Cézanne used this term.

And what it is is it's suggesting
the way your eye really works.

You know, if you look at something very
quickly and you get that first, you know,

snapshot and glance, you can see
the sharp edges that form shapes.

But, in fact, the way we actually look at
things is that we take time to look at

an object and we sort of look around
the object and, you know,

we see all of the different aspects
of it in our eye.

Again, that idea, like we talked about in
Chinese art, of the cinematic eye.

The eyes are moving around here. And so,
very importantly, what this does is this

adds in the element of time to
the painting, because we are not

just seeing a snapshot of a frozen moment
as you do in  When you look through

the window into a Renaissance painting.

What the artist is saying is,
"I understand you're going

"to stand in front of this and you're
going to look at it and you're going to

"see all of these different aspects."
And so, you've added in this element

of time. And there's been a lot
of research, including by people

in our own department, about, you know,
how much did people know about Einstein

and the fourth dimension and
the inclusion of time.

And certainly, people like Braque
and Picasso were 

They're artists, but they were aware of
these ideas which were sort of floating

around Paris, you know? Paris was also
the intellectual hub of Europe

at this time, and so, there may be some
ties to the sort of popular science ideas

and this idea of time. But the idea of
incorporating time, you know,

this is something fairly new
in Western art. But, of course,

we've already seen this in Chinese art,
if we think about something like

a hanging scroll and the way that
your eye sort of moves up

as you take this visual pilgrimage
through the space. Okay?

But this is something now very new and
rendered in a very abstract manner. Okay?

So, this is all  It's all a little
difficult to get a handle on,

I realize that. But as I said,
this particular painting by Braque

is one which I think is relatively easy
to see these different aspects. Okay.

Alright. So, the next time, we are going
to move from Braque

into NonObjective painting.