Cubist Still Lifes

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This lesson began with an indepth look at the work of Pablo Picasso. Students observed a variety of Picasso’s works and were asked to arrange, in chronological order, a series of  his paintings.  Many students were surprised to find that his more realistic works preceded his cubist and minimalst paintings. We discussed the movement of cubism and how those artists went “beyond realism” and sought to reduce the objects they painted to their most essential and minimalist forms.

We then began drawing a series of everyday objects on colored pieces of paper. We used a ruler to “cube-ize” the drawings by transforming some of the curved lines into straight lines. We inked over the drawings and cut them out. Students then created a collaged still life by assembling their drawn objects on a paper “table”. we discussed the importance of using overlapping to show that an object is in front or behind, and how placing objects at different levels on the “table” would give the illusion that some objects were closer or farther. Objects that went off the edge were trimmed or folded back. After gluing down our arrangements, we further fragmented the composition by extending the straight lines of our objects towards the edge of the paper. Students added smaller lines to fill in and further fragment the space. (The analogy I used was to imagine a cracked windshield.) Areas of blended colored pencil were added, in analogous colors, to each section to complete the cubist look!

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