Pithy History p. IV / The Modernist Era / Cubism

In this post I summarize the beginning of chapter 13 from Megg’s History of Graphic Design.

Find a summary of chapters 9 – 12 here.

Megg’s states that the first two decades of the twentieth century were full of upheaval. Monarchies fell, and socialist, communist, and democratic societies emerged all over the world. The fallout from WWI shook the foundations of Western thinking, and from this tumultuous time, politically intense art movements such as Dadaism and surrealism gained momentum. Cubism, futurism, suprematism, constructivism, and expressionism also distinguished themselves during this time period, and continue to influence art today.


Cubism began with Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, who drew influence from ancient Iberian and African tribal art. Later, French postimpressionist Paul Cézanne, another important figure from the movement, said artists should “treat nature in terms of the cylinder and the sphere and the cone.” Cubism plays with geometric planes and perspective, and often depicts one subject from multiple viewpoints at the same time. Other characteristics include purposely shifting between 2D and 3D perspective in one painting. Cubist techniques pushed geometric abstraction and embraced new attitudes towards pictorial space.


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