14 September 2009

Cubists Go Shopping

If one measure of acceptance for avant-garde art is the time it takes for it to become the lingua franca of advertising and illustration, then Cubism was a great success. From 1907 when Picasso caused a furor with Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and 1908 when Georges Braque's Houses at L'Estaques provoked a critic to respond with "bizarre cubiques!" (translation unnecessary) to the images you see here was a short time indeed. Cezanne had been experimenting with fractured perspectives even sooner, to be sure.

For those of us who were born with binocular vision, Ernst Gombrich's complaint that Cubism is a radical human construct elicits a smile. The childhood game of staring at an object, first with one eye and then the other to watch it move and change color, can fill hours. Who knew that Rene Magritte made advertisements for Alfa Romeo or that they look at home with paintigs by Auguste Macke and Lyonel Feininger? And why not?

1. Rene Magritte - Alpha Romeo Ad, Englebert Magazine (Liege, Belgium), January-February, 1925, Bibliotheque de la Ville, La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
2. Auguste Macke - Big Bright Shop Window, 1912, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany.
3. Lyonel Feininger - Lady In Mauve, 1922, Thyssen-Boromisza Museum, Switzerland.
4. Jean-Emile Laboureur - The Magazine Kiosk, 1920s, Laboureur Prints.com.

5. Auguste Macke - Woman With An Umbrella, 1920, Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany.



Hels said...

Every advertising company borrowed images from the artists who were cutting edge at the time. I loved soft French Impressionist images on women's soap, Toulouse Lautrec and the Belle Epoque on brandy bottles, Art Nouveau cruiser advertisements etc.

But you found something even more sleek, sexy and modern in cubism. A style that lent itself beautifully to two-dimensional advertising.

Even Sonia Delauny's matching coat and car started to LOOK like an advertisement.

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Jane,
I found your wonderful blog this evening and felt compelled to post something on my blog to reference The Blue Lantern...straight away!
I do hope this impulse is fine with you as i hope to visit often in future.
Best wishes,

Art said...

How quickly the avant garde get recycled into advertising...I wouldn't have guessed.

Jane said...

Hels, isn't it interesting how Cubism went so quickly from shock to acceptance? Similarly to black and white photography, it has a basis in how we see. On May 31, I did an article on art that tries to mimic how birds see, but is really how humans with wings would perceive things. Also, one August 30, 2008 "How Does It Feel To Be A Bat?" Funny how we keep repeating ourselves. I'm glad you mentioned Sonia Delaunay. Her work is outstanding.

Jane said...

Welcome, Sophie and thank you so much. I'm glad you like it. I always wonder how people find this site among all that are out there.

Jane said...

Art,sometimes artists are not so misunderstood as they would like to think.

Anonymous said...

Is advertising an art form? Does propaganda means art-form-spreading? Is propaganda a kind of applied-art? What are the differences between art and common day-life? What's trangression ?
Oh! Please... don't ask... Just delight your eyes...

Jane said...

Thanks for your comments, A. I'm inclined to think that art finds its way into advertising in spite of the advertisers. In point of fact, the Magritte work is the only here that is an ad.

Neil said...

The Magritte is a fantastic find. Considering how long it took the Impressionists to gain popular acceptance, it's amazing how quickly Cubism caught on. Artists like Laboureur and Chas Laborde were illustrating books in Cubist styles by the early 20s. Of course the shock of WWI had shaken everything up and inclined people towards accepting the new as better than the old.

Jane said...

When I stumbled on the Magritte image I promptly sat on it for months while searching for more, but didn't find any. Engelbert Magazine is a mystery to me, but that's why I'm so grateful to museums for digitizing their collections.

Anonymous said...

So great!!