Ashtead Art Lovers Monthly Talks

11 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.

£10 inc refreshments. The same price since 2007.

Tel: 01372 272235 to book, or email.

Friday 7th June: Picasso and Bracques: An Insight into Cubism

What is cubism?  How did it come about?  Who invented it?  This month’s talk will throw an insight into this early 20th century art movement that influenced sculpture, music, as well as art.

Picasso’s Desmoiselles d’Avignon, painted in 1907 and inspired by an exhibition of Benin bronzes and African masks caused a rumpus when it was exhibited.  But why?

Desmoisells d’Avignon. 1907.  Pablo Picasso.  Source Wikipedia.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Georges Bracque (1882-1962) were to take art in a completely new direction through their experimentation of the analysis of form.  At first it was in a two dimensional form, and this attracted many others to experiment, such as Marcel Duchamp.  However, Duchamp’s painting of Nude descending stairs No 2 was rejected by the Cubists in 1912 because they considered his work too Futurist.  When this painting was exhibited in New York in 1913, the viewing public found it highly amusing.  Not quite the effect that Duchamp was hoping for.

Nude descending Stairs No. 2. Marcel Duchamp. Source Wikipedia.

There are elements similarity to the effects seen in the photographic experiments of the late 19th century of Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey apparent in Duchamp’s painting.  For the general public, Duchamp is probably more familiar for his urinal exhibited in New York and received with much hilarity. Clearly Duchamp was a man with a sense of humour.

At the same time as the Cubists were experimenting with the analysis of the shape of everyday objects being reduced into rectangles, ovoid and cones there were the Italian Futurists and the English Vorticists movements that, on initial consideration, appear to be influenced by cubism.  The Cubists would deny this, but there were many exhibitions where the work of these three movements  were hung side by side, suggesting that the curators judged that in their opinion, there were many similarities.

Picasso and Bracque began to experiment with collage, taking cubism into a three dimensional format.  Some of this form of cubism can be seen in Farley Farm, which was the home of Lee Miller and Roland Penrose, with whom Picasso had a lifelong friendship.

We will explore the lives of Picasso, Bracque and his contemporaries and how cubism came about.  Hopefully, by the end of two hours or so, we will all have a better understanding of what cubism is and the influence of the life and work of these two monumental artistic talents of the 20th century.

The featured painting at the top is Picasso’s Girl with a Mandolin of 1910, now in MOMA, New York.  Source Wikipedia.

Friday 7th June at 11 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.

01372 272235 or email  to book.

£10 inc refreshments. The same price since 2007.


19th July: Natalia Goncharova: star of the Russian Avant Garde.

Details to follow