Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) by Pablo Picasso (The Beginning of Cubism)

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), Museum of Modern Art, New York

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painterdraughtsman, and sculptor who lived most of his life in France. He is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and Guernica (1937), a portrayal of the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence; during the first decade of the 20th century his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His revolutionary artistic accomplishments brought him universal renown and immense fortune, making him one of the best-known figures in 20th century art.

Picasso’s African-influenced Period (1907–1909) begins with the two figures on the right in his painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which were inspired by African artifacts. Formal ideas developed during this period lead directly into the Cubist period that follows.

Analytic cubism (1909–1912) is a style of painting Picasso developed along with Georges Braque using monochrome brownish and neutral colors. Both artists took apart objects and “analyzed” them in terms of their shapes. Picasso and Braque’s paintings at this time have many similarities. Synthetic cubism (1912–1919) was a further development of the genre, in which cut paper fragments—often wallpaper or portions of newspaper pages—were pasted into compositions, marking the first use of collage in fine art.

Click here for other periods of work by Picasso.

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4 Comments on “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) by Pablo Picasso (The Beginning of Cubism)”

  1. Travelling around southern Spain I realized where Picasso might have gotten his idea for cubism. It was the landscape. the sloping hills and farmer’s pastures are constantly turning on you seemingly given you a different view of the hill as you move.

  2. Jerry says:

    The BBC series “Private Life of a masterpiece” has an excellent episode providing an in depth look at the creation of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and its significance. — All available on Youtube course!


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