Formerly a picture took possession of space now it reigns also in time In 1913

Formerly a picture took possession of space now it

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successive aspects. Formerly a picture took possession of space, now it reigns also in time."'° In 1913 Apollinaire commented that Cubists have followed scientists beyond the third dimension and "have been led quite naturally . . . to preoccupy themselves with new possibilities of spatial measurement which, in the language of the modern studies, are designated by the term: the fourth dimension."" There was a popular interest in the fourth dimension in France at that time, which might have inspired the Cubists.'Z In addition to rendering multiple points of view, the Cubists also revised the traditional concept of depth. Formerly artists conceived of painting as the representation of an object in three- dimensional space, but modern artists rejected the notion that art was supposed to represent anything. Rather it must be what it is-a composition of forms on a flat surface. In 1900 the art critic Maurice Denis announced this essential characteristic of modern art: "a picture-before being a war horse, a nude woman, or an anecdote-is essentially a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order."" This flattening was accomplished by the Cubists in part by multiple perspective but also by multiple light sources, the reduction of aerial perspective, and the breakdown of discrete forms and consistent overlapping. All of these techniques can be seen in Braque's Still Life with Violin and Pitcher (191o; Figure 6). The violin is broken up and shown from several points of view. Color is limited to shades of white, black, and brown, and there is no aerial perspective. The wild overlapping suggests forms and depth, but it is impossible to determine exactly what forms in what depths. The light source is ambiguous and casts shadows in different directions, but the fold of paper at the top throws a distinct shadow to the left while the illusionistic nail casts one to the right. This contradiction further interrupts a consistent sense of depth. There is another ambivalence about two- and three- dimensional space with the molding on the wall, which indicates depth clearly at one corner but then breaks into the flatter composition of the rest. The Cubists, like Cézanne, never entirely abandoned depth but reduced it, creating tensions between the world of three dimensions that was their inspiration and the two-dimensionality of painting that was their art. The frompe-l'oeil nail is a symbol of this creative tension. It is the most unambiguously three-dimensional object in the painting and is represented clearly with an identifiable light source, but it also contradicts the illusion of depth by proclaiming that the painting is flat and could be nailed to the wall like a piece of paper. It Is a stake in the heart of the third dimension of painting.

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