Although there were other exponents of Cubist art, Picasso developed his unique style. While Braque’s was l’esprit de geometrie, to use Pascal’s famous expression, Picasso’s was l’esprit de finesse. The former was driven by a “sense of order, reduction and simplification, for which geometry is a natural metaphor”, the latter was driven by “intuitive and visceral feelings of an almost uncontainable intensity” (Danto, 1989). Even after many decades of exercising the Cubist craft, Picasso was still experimenting and evolving his skill. Having said so, there were some common elements through all his Cubist paintings. For example, elements of primitive Iberian images, the works of Gauguin, American comic strip The Katzenjammer Kids have all contributed to Picasso’s notion of Cubist art. But the most interesting and intriguing influence on Picasso’s Cubism is aspects of Negro and Oceanic art, the exhibits of which he had seen in the Ethnographic Museum of the Palais de Trocadero. This assortment of creative inputs that went into Picasso’s Cubist works is best illustrated by the example of Les Demoiselles, in which,
“The females lie at the intersection of the primitive, the flat and the violent. Two of the demoiselles’ faces were modified into fierce and mask-like apparitions with, one feels, ritual strips of paint or symbolic scarifications. One gets the sense in the paintings that come afterward that Picasso is painting in an Africanistic mode–even the still lifes have heavy outlines and irregular shapes, as if given form under conditions too primitive for the potter’s wheel”. (Danto, 1989)
Danto, A. C. (1989, November 6)., Braque, Picasso and Early Cubism., The Nation, 249, 540+.
Danto, A. C. (1996, August 26). Picasso and the Portrait, The Nation, 263, 31+.
Hubbard, G. (2001, October)., Cubism, Arts & Activities, 130, 33.
Shaw-Eagle, J. (1997, March 30). Picasso: A Detailed Portrait of a Legendary Artist as a Young Man. The Washington Times, p. 1.