‘Still life with chair and caning’ is one of the first collages ever made by any artist; Picasso did this one. It opened up a whole new way of thinking and looking at art, before now most paintings were very realistic and had a meaning behind them, but this collage by Picasso shows a much lighter side to art as well as a different one.
The first strikingly different thing about the collage is the shape of it, most paintings before this were square, which gave a nice structure to the painting and a cut off point. On an oval shaped piece of art it’s harder to plan out where its best to crop, which worked for this artwork because of how sporadic it is. Everything in this painting is important, there’s not much negative space and because its oval means there isn’t really a centerpiece to look at which means you don’t know were to look, so your eye just works its way around the painting, which another reason why the circular canvas works well for this piece.
As well as it being oval shaped, it also has a piece of rope around the outside, which is odd, because most paintings of this time would have a nice frame surrounding it but instead it has a piece of old rope which adds to the uniqueness of the collage.
The text reference on the piece, ‘jou’, appears in a few of Picassos work, the letters are taken from the word journal and also ‘jouer’, which is French for play. Picasso is having fun with this painting, he is trying to make something new and be different and having these occurring messages in his work adds originality and a ‘fun’ to his work.
As well as the text in the artwork, there is also a chair caning, what looks like a piece of fruit cut in half and the rope on the out side of it. I think the chair caning is quite significant in this because it’s the only bit of the painting that is done in a lot of detail. For me its saying that its trying to get away from the realistic look of the old fashioned painting and go into this new era of shapes and randomness, this is shown by the fact that the chair caning is smudging and fading into the randomness, also the randomness this taking up most of the room in the image and is surrounding the caning which backs up my theory.
Another thing to mention is that the colours in the top half (and some of the bottom right) are taken from the colours in the caning as if they have been extracted from the caning itself and made into something different.
Although this painting seems like a mess, it actually has a solid structure, which divides things up in the image nicely. There’s the divide of realism and cubism which I explained, there is the divide of colours which splits up the grays and the orange and yellow bits and also there is a nice divide two dimensional work and three dimensional work. On the left hand side there is the caning and the text, which makes you think that you are looking down at the image, but then that is turned upside down by the left hand side which you don’t know which way your looking at it.
All these different things come together nicely in Picassos collage from the structure to the objects in the painting to make something totally different from what came before it and to start of a new period of art.