Times & Places

The Impact of Cubism on Art Deco and Streamlined Modern

Between 1908 and 1913, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and French painter Georges Braque developed a new style of painting now known as cubism. Breaking with traditional representations of space and perspective, cubist artists depicted objects from shifting points of view, as if seen from several markedly different angles at once. What resulted were images in which surfaces were fractured into different planes and overall forms were dismembered.

In the applied arts, the legacy of cubism took the form of objects featuring faceted shapes and angular patterning. While utilitarian objects could seldom be as abstract as the fine arts, some designs such as those for glassware were daring indeed. But items of this extreme cubist nature proved hard to use and were generally commercial failures. Those that mildly adopted the angles of cubism in the form of sunray lines and triangles proved more popular.

Adapted from

Charles Venable, wall text from the 11/18/2001 to 5/20/2002 exhibition Art Deco and Streamlined Modern Design, 1920-1950