Is the wallpaper meant to be seen as the representation of wallpaper or just a flat pattern?
Do we know that the bottle is a bottle because its round opening and tall shape are indicated or
only because of the label?
How is space created? Surely not through perspective or modeling; even simple overlapped
forms interlock in an illogical way.
In fully developed synthetic cubist works, like the Three Musicians, Picasso returned to painting, but the
areas of paint look like flat sheets of colored paper cut and locked together to create forms indistinguishable
from the space that surrounds them. Synthetic cubist works are brightly colored, simple, and hard edged,
as opposed to the monochromatic, complexly fragmented surfaces of analytic cubism. In both styles,
however, Picasso explored the same problems of illusionism.
Picasso continued to develop the ideas he explored in synthetic cubism through much of his long life
(although he also worked simultaneously in other styles). His Guernica was painted in 1937 to
commemorate the bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso used monochromatic
colors and patterns meant to resemble newsprint to recall the way the event was reported in the press.
The visual forms he developed in cubism are here used with great expressive force to show the anguished
victims of this senseless attack.
PICASSO, GUERNICA, 1937
ABSTRACTION
The simplified forms of synthetic cubism also fed into the wider current of pure abstraction that interested
many artists in the second and third decades of the twentieth century. We have already discussed
Kandinsky’s efforts to express pure feeling through color around 1913. In the same year, the Russian artist
Kazimir Malevich began to exhibit his paintings based on geometric shapes, including one that was simply
a solid black square on a white field. Only a bit more complex is Malevich’s Suprematist Painting (Eight Red
Rectangles). Any reference to objects in the real world has been removed, leaving only the formal
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