Arguably the most important art movement of the 20th century, Cubism marked the birth of abstract art in Western art history. Inspired by the simplified landscapes of Paul Cézanne, the painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque invented and pursued Cubism in Paris between 1907 and 1914. The artists took the revolutionary step of rejecting the 500-year-old idea that a painting should act like a window and needed to be ruled by a realistic sense of perspective. Instead, Picasso and Braque created more conceptual, subjective works that sought to represent the underlying structure of forms. The best-known Cubist works look like shattered glass in dim browns and yellows, composed of various sharp planes that allude to the shapes of figures or still life objects. Cubism originally took its name from an insult delivered by the critic Louis Vauxcelles, who commented that one of Braque’s paintings looked as if it were “full of little cubes.” After 1910, Cubism was quickly adopted by many other artists in Paris and beyond, such as Juan Gris, Fernand Léger, Jacques Lipchitz, Alexander Archipenko, Jacques Villon, and more.

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