Pablo Picasso


Collage became an important landmark in the history of Cubism, and, therefore, the entire modern art of the 20th century. It is still unknown who invented it: Braque or Picasso. Both artists left a lot of works made between 1907 and 1914 which were not dated or signed. It is even more difficult to establish the authorship based on stylistic peculiarities when something new is born.

But this question is of much less importance that that of the motifs which made an artist glue a piece of carton into his painting. Contemporaries put it down to the increased need for contact with reality as opposed to the growing abstraction of the analytical Cubism. A picture overcoming flatness esthetically symbolized a reference to the real nature of things. But the idea of “reality” is always understood ambiguously when it deals with art because it is itself a way of interaction of a person’s inner world with it. So, the issue of the reasons and motifs is still open for researchers.

It all started with attempts of restoring volume of a painting which had been lost in the interweaving of edges and planes in analytical Cubism. Braque and Picasso began adding sand to paint to obtain a grain effect and texture of the surface. In other paintings the texture was modeled by paint. The moment in September 1912 when Braque decided not to imitate the texture of woodgrain wallpaper but just to stick a piece of the wallpaper to his painting instead, became the turning point. Picasso said that he had already glued a piece of buckram to canvas at the end of 1911. But let researchers argue about precedence. The important thing is that a step from illusion to reality (or its imitation?) was made.

The breakthrough to the third dimension and to the world of tangible materials provided great freedom of creativity for Picasso. He used everything: newspaper cuttings, parts of musical instruments, music score, tobacco boxes, fabrics, metal… Reality submerged into the space of a picture and became surrounded by the play of light and colour in order to show itself in its new capacity. It is hard to imagine what a Parisian viewer of the early 20th century could feel in the epicenter of those revolutionary transformations. But it should be mentioned that three years proved to be enough for Picasso’s passion for the new technique. After 1915 he almost stopped creating collages. Perhaps, the artist realized that powerful methods of self-expression were not on the surface and had to be searched for deep inside the painting.

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