Cubist art emerged in Paris around 1907. The two main ‘inventors’ of Cubism were the French painter Georges Braque (1882–1963) and the Spaniard Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). The term ‘Cubism’ originated in a derogatory remark made by an art critic in 1908: he said that Braque reduced everything ‘to geometric outlines, to cubes’. The term ‘Cubism’ soon came into widespread use, although in fact Cubist paintings rarely feature cubes.
Many foreign artists visited Paris and became captivated by this new style. Instead of seeking a photographic likeness, or a fixed viewpoint, the Cubists would paint a motif as if seen simultaneously from different angles. This innovation implied that the artist had moved around the subject and that the relationship between an artist and the subject was a dynamic one linked to movement, speed and the modern world.
Russian artists – for example Lyubov Popova – were particularly drawn towards Cubism, seeing it as a new, revolutionary approach, which corresponded to the new, revolutionary ideas which were emerging in Russian society. Naum Gabo’s Column was conceived as a public sculpture while he was living in Russia in about 1921. His starting point may lie in the geometric, almost abstract nature of Cubism, but Gabo took things a stage further, calling his art Constructivist.
Image: Georges Braque, Le Bougeoir [The Candlestick], 1911
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016.
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is located 15 minutes’ walk from Princes Street. It includes two buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, set in a beautiful sculpture park.
Friends of the Galleries get free unlimited entry to all exhibitions, and enjoy a wide range of exclusive benefits including early exhibition access, special events and 10% discount in our cafes.
Browse what's on at the galleries below, or filter results to narrow your search.