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Still Life with Chair and Caning
Pablo Picasso (1912)
Still Life with Chair and Caning appears to be a view of a glass table or breakfast table from a seated position on a chair therefore the canvas is ellipse shaped due to perspective. The piece is laid out in a grid like manner with the wicker like chair caning taking up most of the bottom half of the canvas and the heavily cubist style oil painting in the top half of the canvas. There is also a horizontal contrast between lighter and darker areas. The left of the canvas has dark shades of black smudges which appear to be shadows, whereas the right is a lot lighter almost unbalancing the image.
The shapes and items that you see in the piece taken from broken down elements that you would find on an average French breakfast table at the time it was made. Examples of such are the segmented “lemon-like” shapes in the top right of the piece, the caning of the chair under the opposite side of the table and what appears to be a rolled up newspaper with the letters “jou” on it.
The letters “jou” are most likely to be relating to “Le Journal” the French for newspaper, and newspapers are something that would likely find on a table when Picasso was creating this work. The letters “jou” could also related to the French words “jeu (game) or jouer (to play)”. This ties in with the purpose of this piece in my opinion, its colour range is bland using only greyscale colours, siennas and ochres, the composition could be described as chaotic and ill laid out meaning isn’t a very aesthetically pleasing piece of art. This backs up the fact that Picasso was merely playing around with art.
This piece was painted in the analytical cubist movement, analytical cubism was about breaking down forms into geometrical shapes then trying to reassemble them into a two dimensional painting. This piece was the start of the transition into synthetic cubism. Synthetic cubism is created using more of a construction process rather than analysing a form and deconstructing it. Synthetic cubism is also easier to interpret and generally is more decorative.
The Synthetic Cubism movement Challenged what was stealing in the art world and in doing so allowed artists to use textures and collage to save time rather than recreating exact painted copies of textures and objects.
“Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.”(Pablo Picasso)
Picasso started a huge turning point in what art can be and brought the element of art being a game into play. This concept was later taken the extreme by Marcel Duchamp with his ready-mades and “modern-art”. This piece and the beginning of collage could be related to being the earliest form of graphic design or the birth of graphic design, as it uses techniques used in design to this current date. Example of such techniques used today are the use of breaking down elements, experimenting with their placement and planning their final layout.