Cubism and early abstraction: c. 1907 – 1935

The Spaniard Picasso changed the way we see the world. He could draw with academic perfection at a very young age but he gave it up in order to create a language of representation suited to the modern world. Together with the French artist George Braque, Picasso undertook an analysis of form and vision that would inspire radical new visual forms across Europe and in America. This tutorial explains the underlying principles of Cubism and the abstract experiments that followed including Italian Futurism, Russian Suprematism, and the Dutch movement, de Stijl.




Why are you looking at splashes on a canvas? Math, music, and WWI are just some of many possible answers.

The Case for Abstraction


Giacomo Balla, Street Light (detail), c. 1910-11 (dated on painting 1909), oil on canvas, 174.7 x 114.7 cm (The Museum of Modern Art, New York)
Rejecting traditional subject matter, Balla paints an object that is forthrightly modern and technological.

Giacomo Balla, Street Light



Can color just be color, rather than representing something else? Step into Mondrian’s studio to find out.

TateShots: Piet Mondrian







Pablo Picasso, Guitar (detail)
Picasso represents a guitar in three-dimensions, but he doesn’t actually make one.

Pablo Picasso, Guitar